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The SpaceX and Tesla CEO has encouraged people to have more babies in a bid to ensure the survival of the human race. Speaking at a Monday event hosted by the Wall Street Journal, the South African billionaire claimed “there are not enough people” to keep humanity ticking along. Elon Musk’s dire warning came amid reports that the world’s population is set to decline for the very first time in centuries.
According to a new report published in the journal The Lancet, the global population will peak at 9.7 billion before dropping to 8.8 billion by 2100.
The study warned changing population size and “age structure” might have a profound economic, social and geopolitical impact on the globe.
Earlier this summer, the World Economic Forum claimed birthrates all over the globe are falling, with the decline attributed in part to the Covid pandemic.
However, even before the world was brought to a grinding halt, the WE Forum claimed urbanisation was driving population decline.
Mr Musk, who himself has six children, has now claimed declining population rate growth is “one of the biggest risks to civilisation”.
He said: “There are not enough people. I can’t emphasize this enough, there are not enough people.”
Recent years have seen many people opt out of having children, fearing the impact child-rearing will have on climate change.
A 2019 survey by Business Insider found, for example, that 38 percent of 18-to-29-year-old respondents believed couples should consider the climate crisis before thinking about having children.
Another survey conducted for The New York Times in 2018 found 33 percent of respondents cited climate change as a reason for having fewer children than ideal.
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Mr Musk, however, claimed this week that “it’s completely the opposite” and that more people are needed to prevent the planet from collapsing.
He was quoted by CNBC: “If people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble. Mark my words.”
According to Stein Emil Vollset, Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the last time the global population declined was in the mid-14th century, due to the Black Plague.
Professor Vollset was the lead author of the study published in The Lancet.
At present, the world’s population is estimated to be about 7.8 billion people.
For comparison, it was about 6.1 billion in the year 2000.
Professor Vollset told IFL Science: “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.”
According to the study’s forecasts, the population of up to 23 countries could shrink by more than half.
These include Japan, Spain, South Korea, Thailand, Portugal and Italy.
Tow key factors, Professor Vollset argued, are improved access to contraception and education of women and girls.
Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, said in a statement: “The 21st century will see a revolution in the story of our human civilisation.
“Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence.
“By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the US the dominant powers.
“This will truly be a new world, one we should be preparing for today.”
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