Friday, October 21, 2016

Spain's population to drop by 11% by 2050

Happily retired, no plan to conquer any New World
Without unexpected events, Spain is on course to lose 11% of its current population come the year 2050. In 34 years, its population will be much smaller and older. The Catholic family, full of kids, is no longer the rule in places like Spain or Italy. They now have, instead, among the lowest fertility rates on Earth.

Spain by 2050 will be a depopulated nation dominated by elderly and single people, according to a report that predicts the country will have lost 5.3 million inhabitants, or 11% of the current population, by the middle of the century.

Spain’s low birth rate and high life expectancy are seen as a demographic problem that the report, released by the national statistics office on Thursday, expects to become more entrenched.
While the fertility rate is predicted to rise slightly, from 1.33 to 1.38, births will fall overall because there will be fewer women of childbearing age. The average age at which Spanish women have their first child is expected to rise from 31.9 to 33 years.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

China's new 2-child rule won't lead to demographic boom

Did they fight for fewer and fewer descendants?
China's 2-child policy, introduced in 2015, is not likely to bring big changes to its population trajectory. Under the new policy, China's population is now projected to peak at 1.45 billion in 2029, instead of a 2023 peak of 1.4 billion if the one-child rule remained. Afterwards, at an estimated birthrate of 1.81 babies/woman, similar to that of the U.S. or Denmark, China will begin a slow and long demographic decline, like other East Asian nations. Although it was forced upon them at first, the Chinese have over time come to embrace the one-child family. Now that they are free to have two children, many will still deliberately choose to have only one, similarly to their Korean or Japanese neighbors. With China and India converging demographically with Western nations, the global demographic picture will be very different in 2116.

With 1.37 billion people, China currently has the world's largest population. It will peak at 1.45 billion in 2029, compared with a peak of 1.4 billion in 2023 if the "one-child" policy that restricted most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two if their first was a girl had continued, according to the study, published in the medical journal Lancet.
The study says it assumes that the total fertility rate, or births per woman, will rise from the current 2.01 in rural areas and 1.24 in urban areas to 2.15 and 1.67, respectively, in the next decade. That takes into account a lower socioeconomic level in rural areas and the fact that ethnic minorities are allowed three or more children. It estimates a combined total fertility rate of 1.81 in 2030.

Cai Yong, a demographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who wasn't involved in the study, said he thought its total fertility rate projection of 1.81 in 2030 was "overly optimistic."

Lower fertility in China "is no longer a depressed result of restrictive policy," Cai said, adding that Chinese are likely to opt to pour their resources into just one "high quality" child instead of multiple children. They are also increasingly postponing or forgoing marriage and childbearing, he said.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The extremely low odds of us being the only civilization mean we are likely not alone.

How would the Kryptonians view this alien from Earth?
"The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space." by Carl Sagan.

If there was only us in the whole history of the universe, the probability would be less than one in 10 billion trillion. That is less than 1/1000000000000000000000000. Billions of trillions of stars exist only for us to follow the Kardashians? Seems like a pretty weird plan from the Big (wo)man upstairs. Or there's no such plan at all? And civilizations are all around us, in both space and time? Blooming and fading like wildflowers?

Using this method, Frank and Sullivan calculated how unlikely life would be if there has never been another example of intelligent life among the universe’s twenty billion trillion stars, or even among just our own Milky Way galaxy’s hundred billion.

The results? Less than one in ten billion trillion. "To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology producing species very likely have evolved before us," said Frank. And when the equation is scaled down to include just our galaxy, the numbers are not as extreme.

However, the universe is more than 13 billion years old. "That means that even if there have been a thousand civilizations in our own galaxy, if they live only as long as we have been around -- roughly ten thousand years — then all of them are likely already extinct," explained Sullivan. "And others won't evolve until we are long gone."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

One million immigrants are still not enough to turn Germany's demography around.

If only more could sing the Internationale!
Welcoming a number of refugees like in 2015 and prime minister Merkel is now close to losing her seat. Yet that many may still, technically, not be enough to turn Germany's demography around. Can many more be realistically brought in under a democratic regime, where a big part of the already present population will use votes to defend their interests? And immigration would only delay the aging problem for a while, until the immigrants' children become locals, with local reproductive patterns. Or should Germany go the way of Japan where, instead of immigration, they are building robotic exo-skeletons to help 70-years-olds jogging around? Immigration could be a good idea for individual nations, yet it won't work on the planetary scale half a century from now, when the likes of Mexico, India... will have also aged. Unless we allow in some E.T. immigrants?

While the record number of migrants entering the country will slightly increase the population, not even a million migrants will reverse Germany’s long-term population decline. Olga Poetzsch, a spokesperson for the Federal Statistics Office, said that a look at the past shows that phases of high net immigration to Germany are usually followed by sharp drops.
The latest population projections still predict a long-term shrinkage, for two reasons, says Poetzsch. The large cohort of “baby boomers” (those born between 1955 and 1965, approximately) will start to die off, pushing annual deaths above one million. At the same time, the number of women of child-bearing age will decrease. Even if the birth rate jumped from 1.4 to 1.6 children per woman, overall births would still decline in the long term.

“Developments in fertility and mortality that might prevent such high numbers for the deficit of births are currently not in sight,” Poetzsch adds.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Iran's supreme leader Khamenei thinks population aging may be unsolvable

It does look as evil as Houston by night
Remember Bush's Axis of Evil, those savage little countries hell-bent on destroying Western civilization...? Well, at least one of them, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is facing a baby drought so severe that its supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has to admit that the population aging problem may not be easily fixed. The fact of the matter is, at 1.8 babies/woman, Iran's birth rate is equal to that of the US. At the same fertility level, both countries may have more in common than they want to recognize. And there might be lots of misunderstanding in this world? It's just too easy to forget that, beyond everything, all countries are made up of human beings.

“The issue of ageing population is an unsolvable problem and nowadays the developed countries even have no solutions to the problem,” IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying at a meeting with the members of the country’s supreme statistics council Sep. 13.

He added that the country’s officials should have stopped policies aimed at controlling population growth.

Earth-like planet discovered around Proxima Centauri, the Sun's nearest neighbor

So close, yet so far. 4.24 light years = 10,000s of years of current-tech travel 
The banalization of our place in the Cosmos continues with the latest discovery of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun at 4.2 light years away. A short 500 years ago, Galileo went to jail for questioning Earth's place at the center of the whole universe. We have gone a long way since then. Since the first exoplanet found in 1992, we have discovered thousands more around stars far from the Sun. Yet we didn't know for sure, not until now, that even our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, also has a rocky planet of its own. It looks like rocky planets, a category to which Earth belongs, are dime-a-dozen in the universe.

Observations made with a telescope in Chile have indeed revealed a planet about as massive as Earth that orbits Proxima Centauri, which is a cosmic walk to the corner store at just 4.24 light-years away. And if conditions are right, the planet is in an orbit that’s warm enough for liquid water to survive on its surface.
The Alpha Centauri system, long a wonderland for science fiction authors, is often considered a destination for humanity’s first leap into interstellar space—as well as a potential haven for future civilizations fleeing the inevitable destruction of Earth as we know it.

“A habitable, rocky planet around Proxima would be the most natural location to where our civilization could aspire to move after the sun will die, five billion years from now,” says Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an adviser to the Breakthrough Starshot project.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

U.S. fertility falls to lowest on record

More benefits, not more babies than those backward Yankees
In the latest news, the US birthrate is making a new historical low. To put things in perspective, however, America is at the same level of fertility as Scandinavian countries, despite huge differences in welfare benefits, paid parental leaves...

Economics, therefore, may not be the reason behind low birthrates on both sides of the Atlantic. On a worldwide basis, the opposite tends to be true: the poorer a country, the higher its birthrate. The cause of low fertility must be something else, something more fundamental.

The US fertility rate fell to the lowest point since record keeping started more than a century ago, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1909, the government began keeping track of what's called the fertility rate. The general fertility rate is the number of births out of 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44.

In the first three months of 2016, the fertility rate in the US fell to the lowest level. The rate was 59.8 births per 1,000 women.

Friday, October 2, 2015

S.Hawking thinks nomadic ETs may conquer our world... Well, not if they're too old to care.

Are we exercising for cosmic conquests? Yeah, you bet!
Fantasies about "colonial conquests" may reveal more about our youthful and barbaric past than about our future. After all, western nations only dismantled their colonial empires a short 60 years ago. When they conquered the colonies in the 19th century, western median ages were very low. 

What will we want collectively when our society reaches median age 64? We don't know because historically we have never had such a society. Given the current aging trend, we will find out soon enough. Then we might know, 2 billion light year from us, what the old aliens really want. Just some quiet Tai-chi in the morning, perhaps.

Now, in his latest dire warning, the physicist claims that if AI doesn't conquer humanity, an advanced alien civilisation may do so instead.
'If aliens visit us, the outcome could be much like when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans,' Professor Hawking said in a recent interview.
'Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach,' Hawking told El Pais.
'To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,' said Hawking.
'The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.'
But Hawking says if aliens don't kill off the human race, then climate change or AI could do so instead.
'I think the survival of the human race will depend on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe, because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy Earth,' he said.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Germany now has the world's lowest birthrate, below Japan's

A few Syrian friends might make it more fun
In light of the ongoing immigration events in Europe, it's worth knowing this data point: Germany's birthrate has lately dropped below Japan's, making it the lowest in the world. An influx of younger blood, if well managed, may be beneficial for the aging host countries.

Another point: Germany and Japan have very different histories, religious backgrounds, cultural heritages... yet their birthrates are similar, which shows how low fertility may be a human, universal phenomenon, not particular to some cultures or religions. The modern living conditions these nations share matter much more than where they came from.

Germany’s birth rate has fallen to the lowest in the world, according to a study by an auditing firm.

The country has dropped below Japan to take the lowest birth rate globally, according to the study by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), prompting fears that labour market shortages could damage the economy.
Germany saw an average of 8.2 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the past five years.
Japan saw 8.4 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the same time period, whereas Portugal and Italy saw 9.0 and 9.3, respectively. France and the UK both had an average of 12.7 births per 1,000 inhabitants.

Meanwhile, the highest birth rates were in Africa, with Niger at the top of the list with 50 births per 1,000 people.

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