The Washington Post

Pop- goes the –ulation

It’s hard to know what to make of this.

A story about smaller population growth than expected. While the story is presented more-or-less as fact-of-the-matterly, there is still the residual feeling that we are disappointed. “From a demographic perspective, we’re not going full throttle yet.”

I know we’re long past the zero-population days, after Julian Simon won his famous resources bet with Paul Ehrlich, and the conventional wisdom has veered back to We Need More Young Workers To Care For The Geezers, but not so fast, I say. We may have proven adept at resource replacement, to the extent that we will never run out of Manganese or Cobalt or whatever, but we sure seem to be running out of healthy ecosystems, including the Earth one, as we encase ourselves in a bubblewrap of climate destruction.

As for the geezers, whose ranks I will eventually be joining, my plan is for the robots to take care of this, and me, and everything else. We all cheer technological advances, but when they actually promise to solve something, like the NEED FOR WORKERS, everybody shuffles their feet and changes the subject. My personal robot will be called Bertram, and he will bring my wine and slippers and tilt his waggly metal head and ask if there will be anything else.

Countries everywhere are experiencing slowing or negative population growth because people are now able to choose how many kids they want and the answer as of now is Not So Many. I’ll raise my glass in a New Year’s toast to that, and I will instruct good Bertram to do likewise.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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