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Has Population Growth Reversed?
The world’s human population may be imminently poised at the inflection point of reversal from growth to decline. We may have even arrived there 3 years ago.
A reversal of population growth would be the first decline in human population since the 14th century plague, and before that, the last ice age, 27,000 to 19,000 years ago, when it is estimated that the world human population declined by about 61%.
Dr. Meryl Nass has written a very important article today, being among the first (perhaps the first) to discuss that the curve of human population growth has likely changed course and has now likely reversed to decline, and may have turned that corner in 2020.
Fertility rates are calculated as number of children per woman. Replacement value is greater than 2.0. This equals the sum of the exact 2.0 people (needed to replace the mortal parenting couple), plus an added margin, due to child mortality (those children who did not survive to their own reproductive age). Even a fertility rate of exactly 2.0 therefore results in population reduction. A 2.1 fertility rate is estimated to result in an overall stable population level.
Dr. Nass cites fertility rates, including from the world’s four largest countries by population, China, India, United States and Indonesia, in that order. Among those four, only India and Indonesia still show fertility rates of above 2.0. All of the four largest countries’ fertility rates have been in precipitous decline as in her graphic below.
The source of the above data is the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, (OECD).
In the above graph, notice the vast majority of the world’s countries have now arrived, by 2020, below the replacement line of 2.0 (really 2.1; see above).
I count only eight countries, as of 2020, above the 2.0 fertility rate line, in the following order of fertility: Israel, South Africa, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Peru, India and Mexico, in that order. On the above site’s chart, please take your browser to at least 250% zoom, in order to sort out the tightly packed curves in this graph. Then there is a gap, from there downward, to the next highest fertility countries, topped by Turkey at 1.88, with the rest of us falling below those numbers.
Those eight countries of > 2.0 fertility are in this order of size by population: 100th, 25th, 4th, 41st, 32nd, 43rd, 2nd and 10th. So of the largest ten countries in the world, only three remain above replacement fertility level, India, Indonesia and Mexico, although all are significantly declining in fertility rates. The other seven of the top ten by population are already below replacement level fertility, and still going down.
The fertility rate needed for a stable population level is predicated on other assumptions. The OECD assumption of that number being 2.1 holds that deaths remain at a constant rate. But there is no assurance of such constant mortality in our new ‘died suddenly’ environment, at least not here in the heavily COVID-vaccinated countries of the northern hemisphere, everywhere except Africa really. I wrote about steep declines in birth rates in Europe following peak COVID vaccine uptake here.
Once a fertility rate gets into < 2.0 territory, the average parenting couple is no longer replacing all of itself. At that point, net population unavoidably declines, again with assumption of a constant mortality rate.
Vital statistics are notoriously hard to obtain in the COVID era. In the US, the following four states, for example, have neglected to report births since 2019 and 2020 respectively, Massachusetts and New York, Illinois and Washington state.
But are the scanty vital statistics that the public is allowed to see even true?
The relentless population counter at Worldometers marches ever upward past 8 billion people on the planet: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ Perhaps their algorithm for such counting could be made available to the public. Clicking on the “Worldometer’s RTS algorithm” from this page https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/ currently leads to a blank page at the time of this writing. Clicking on “populations estimates and projections methodology” on this page https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ goes to a page at the US Census Bureau, where world populations data and projections are not sourced to external pages. Such circular “we said so, because they said so, and take our word for it” does not inspire confidence.
Whom to believe about population? So I asked Google . . .
The first ten Google search results I saw alleged a still-growing population. Among those ten, there was one naysayer: Elon Musk projecting a future population collapse. But Musk is not alone. Stein Emil Vollset, writing as lead author of a study in Lancet forecasts a future population decline before the year 2100, with a turning point at mid-century. He says, “If our forecast is correct, it will be the first time population decline is driven by fertility decline, as opposed to events such as a pandemic or famine.”
However, as OECD data shows, this decline looks like it has already started.
Has Meryl Nass MD thrown down the gauntlet to the Malthusians to prove their allegations of ongoing vigorous population growth, or any net growth at all? If so, I join her in making this challenge to them.
Colleen Huber, NMD is the author of The Defeat Of COVID and Neither Safe Nor Effective: The Evidence Against the COVID Vaccines.
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