Wednesday, October 20, 2021

For the first time, humanity is on the verge of long-term decline

Those were the days
The date of the forecast population peak keeps being revised closer and closer, from around year 2100 to 2064 now. The human number at the peak is also marked down to 9.4 billion in a 2021 study, from the 11 billion of previous UN forecasts. And the demographic "Japanese disease" is now seen on all continents, from rich to not-so-rich societies.

From, "The new population bomb":


For the past 200 years, a rapidly rising population has consumed the earth's resources, ruined the environment, and started wars. But humanity is about to trade one population bomb for another, and now scientists and policymakers are waking up to a new reality: The world is on the precipice of decline, and possible extinction.


By 2050, 151 of the world's 195 countries and regions will experience depopulation.

Ultimately, the study forecasts that the global population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and then start declining.


Over the approximately 300,000 years of human history, cold-weather periods and epidemics have caused temporary drops in population. But now humanity will enter a period of sustained decline for the first time ever, according to Hiroshi Kito, a historical demographer and former president of the University of Shizuoka.


The University of Washington study comes as a corrective to previous estimates that saw the global population continuing to grow through this century. "World Population Prospects" in 2019 estimated that the population is likely to continue to grow, reaching 10.9 billion by 2100. But new projections show the birthrate in developing countries falling faster than expected.

Murray believes global fertility will converge at around 1.5, and likely lower in some countries. "This also means that humanity will eventually disappear in the next hundreds of years," he said.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Why don't ETs contact us, if they're out there?

Hidden oases of the great cosmic desert

Perhaps like a person who survives youthful accidents but still has to grow old, intelligent species that survive environmental disasters may still follow a natural life cycle that ends in demographic old age and extinction. And jaded old aliens, much like the ones in your family, may not be that curious about the cosmos.

From the Guardian, "Can we talk to aliens? And should we colonise space? We ask the expert":


Maybe they’re observing us, too. Maybe they don’t like what they hear. War. Hunger. Mumford & Sons.

There’s a theory that the reason we don’t know of other advanced civilisations is because they don’t stick around. A natural outcome is that they become destructive and disappear. Maybe aliens see us and think: “They won’t last long,” and keep away. Or they’re waiting to discover who else is out there before they make themselves known.

I feel seen – I also quietly wait to see who else is going before accepting an invitation.

It’s good to be cautious. We know from Earth exploration that there are risks – from aggressive migration, or carrying diseases into new countries.


43.9% of the South Korean population may be 65 and older in 2050, up from 16.5% in 2021

They will still sing in 2050

Imagine a society where close to half of the population is 65 and older. Given this 2050 projection, South Korea will have to make radical changes or face big economic trouble at such a high level of retirees.

From the Korea Herald, "16.5% of S. Korea’s population aged 65 and older in 2021: report":


People aged 65 and older made up 16.5 percent of South Korea’s population this year, a report showed


By 2050, the number of elderly people could account for 43.9 percent of the country’s population, according to the report.


Iran creates Islamic dating app to counter below-2.1 fertility

Change is in the air
Given the fundamentals of human nature behind the birth dearth, Iran's ayatollahs may soon find it easier to skirt Western sanctions and make nuclear weapons than to push fertility back above the replacement level of 2.1.

From Reuters, "Iran launches matchmaking app as fertility rates fall":


Hamdam (Companion), developed by a state-affiliated Islamic cultural body, requires users to verify their identity and carries out psychological compatibility tests and gives advice for young singles seeking a marriage partner.


Officials have expressed concern that Iran's population could be among the oldest in the world in two decades after the fertility rate among Iranian women dropped 25% over the past four years, according to Iranian media reports. The fertility rate is about 1.7 children per woman.


U.S. Birthrate Hits Another Record Low in 2020

Fewer and fewer Captains America

Covid may have played a part in 2020's record-low birthrate, yet this number has been falling for six years in a row. The U.S. birthrate has been continuously below the 2.1 babies per woman replacement level since 2007. 

From the NPR, "U.S. Birthrate Fell By 4% In 2020, Hitting Another Record Low":


"This is the sixth consecutive year that the number of births has declined after an increase in 2014, down an average of 2% per year, and the lowest number of births since 1979," the National Center for Health Statistics said.

The U.S. total fertility rate, which estimates how many babies a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have during their life based on data from a given year, remains far "below replacement" – meaning there wouldn't be enough babies born for a generation to exactly replace itself.

"The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and has consistently been below replacement since 2007," according to the agency, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The statistical replacement rate is 2,100 births per 1,000 women. But in 2020, the U.S. total fertility rate fell to 1,637.5 births per 1,000 women. One year earlier, it was just over 1,700 births.

Just over 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, according to the agency. Demographically, the number of births fell across all ethnicities and origins, according to the report, which relied on U.S. Census Bureau population estimates that were derived in July.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Humankind is unlikely to be the universe's first civilization

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 demographics around.

If only more could sing the Internationale!
Welcoming a big group of refugees like in 2015 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. Some countries may choose the Japanese path where, instead of immigration, they are building robotic exo-skeletons to help 70-years-olds jogging around? Immigration may 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 allowed 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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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.

Thursday, October 1, 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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

More Earth-like planets across the universe than grains of sand on Earth's beaches?

Earth as a grain of sand
We used to think of Earth as the center of the universe, with the Sun circling around it... Turned out it's the other way around, the solar system has 7 other planets beside ours. 30 years ago, we knew no other star with planets apart from our Sun. Now we have identified hundreds in just a tiny corner of our Milky Way galaxy. Given the estimated size of the observable universe - 200 billion galaxies times 200 billion stars per galaxy, it's possible that there might be more Earthy planets out there than sands on our beaches. Could we really be alone?

A new study combines exoplanet data from the Kepler Space Telescope with a new version of a 250-year-old method for determining orbital periods and positions of planets. The research calculates that in our galaxy alone, there could be billions of planets hosting liquid water, habitable conditions and perhaps even life.
Digging deeper into the data, the researchers looked at how many planets were likely to be in the habitable zone where conditions to support liquid water and life might exist. They found an average of one to three planets in the habitable zone in each planetary system. Extrapolate those calculations further, and you arrive at the conclusion that if the math holds, there may be billions of habitable planets in the Milky Way, which is itself just one of billions of galaxies.
Should these calculations hold up -- and the researchers behind them encourage astronomers to check to see whether the planets they predict are actually there to help bolster their case -- it means that the chances of our planet being the universe's only potentially habitable rock that actually hosts life would be not one in a million, one in a billion or even one in a trillion -- but one in a sextillion. (In case this is your first time seeing that word, a sextillion is a one with 21 zeroes behind it.)

Actually, if the estimates of 40 billion Earth-sized planets in habitable zones of sun-like or red dwarf stars in the Milky Way and the estimate of the 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies in the universe are accurate -- and if the average galaxy has roughly the same number of Earth cousins as the Milky Way, then the chances that we are the only planet with life are more like one in 6 sextillion.
Jason Marshall, aka "The Math Dude," has calculated that there are roughly 5 sextillion grains of sand on all our planet's beaches combined. So take every grain of sand on every beach on Earth and you can begin to be able to actually visualize how many planets we're talking about.