For crying out loud!

Babies are creeping back into the global conversation. And a few things have changed, and I guess I have to acknowledge the lurking diaper analogy in this sentence.

Population was a growing issue some decades back, crowding out other subjects, and I will TRY to stop the punning now. Then the subject bombed. Boom! Baby boom! Boomer echo! I am lost here.Let start over, all puns banished.

Last time around population was about using up resources. This fizzled because people turned out to be pretty inventive resource adapters. So the issue of population went away. Except the problem never really did. Because one of the resources we weren’t so clever about replacing was habitat for other actual species. Negotiating with other species over their habitat was simple. Our position was we’d take half of whatever was left. Next round we’d take half of the remaining and so on. This seemed reasonable to us. Negotiating! Just like in Washington. And animals turned out to be pretty inept at articulation any opposition. Had they not heard of lobbyists?? And then there was population and CLIMATE, the subject we are not allowed to discuss as though it really means anything. Population has a very significant impact there, but only if you think about it, which we don’t.

But population is back as a subject, in a slightly different configuration, and I’ll take it any way I can get it. Now it is three-pronged, like a pitchfork. Most important is that family planning turns out to empower women. This is good for women. Empowering women turns out to be good for nations, in terms of society, poverty and education. And in turn, healthy nations are good for the world!

The big red-herring worry about shrinking populations has centered around quite short-term and short-sighted Ponzi-like worries about retirement financing for an aging population. While this is not a non-issue, again, it was advocating a short-term solution at longer-term cost. But now we have technology eliminating the need for so many bodies to do labor. If we manage to structure the economics of that correctly, we will have all the indicators pointing in the same direction of smaller population and greater prosperity for all, including our wild animal friends. Win-win-win. Let that pitchfork prod us!

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.

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