The Defining Event of the 21st Century: Underpopulation

Drastic global population shrinkage, not eco fairy tales, is the pressing problem for humanity in our century

A new trend is for self-absorbed celebs and a fraction of the youths to do what they would have done anyway and forego having children but frame it as a sacrifice “for the planet” and claim moral superiority on the account of it

There are apocalyptic books that alter the course of history.  The Bible, for one.  Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, published in 1968, another.  Since Ehrlich’s book predicted hundreds of millions of people would starve to death because of overpopulation, modern populations have groveled with family planning, birth control, abortion, forced population control (China) and imagined threats of famines and resultant environmental and climate disasters.  Then this book:

EMPTY PLANET, The Shock Of Global Population Decline, by Canadian researchers Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (Little Brown Book Group, 2019)

According to its authors, young women won’t need to forgo having babies to save the planet, they have already instinctively delayed or foregone childbirth for reasons of career, pursuit of wealth and autonomy, no covert or overt population control plans needed.

The postulation of the book is that in countries where urbanization is a trend and the standard of living and incomes are high, women are having so few babies as to imperil the required growth in their country’s future. Cultural changes, not any religious dictums or government regulations, are responsible for this monumental change.   

But wait, outmoded ideas sometimes never fade away.  Old ideas remain indelibly in the minds of people, particularly the doomsday ideas of Paul Ehrlich.  If what EMPTY PLANET book says is true, then many are still mired in the past (notice the dates on these proclamations).

  • Joe Pfeifer, in his October 5, 2019 missive posted at, says: “We should focus on the one root cause for all these catastrophes. Our planet cannot sustain the doubling of our global population that occurs ever 61 years… we have too many people.”
  • The world clearly can’t support 10 billion people living like Americans do today. – Science Magazine, July 1, 2005
  • “Consider adoption if you want children.”
    – Sean Dennison, Oct. 9, 2019
  • Calls to have few or no children to fight climate change are common. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Prince Harry have become advocates for limited birthing. – Vox, August 20, 2019
  • Kevin Casey writing at com (November 20, 2019) says: “Climate changes is not the biggest threat to the world’s environment – we are… Now our numbers are out of control, and that presents us with limited options… Stop getting sidetracked by the climate change industry and recognize that the problem is our sheer numbers and blatant disregard for the planet’s health – not the climate… We need more global promotion of family planning, more female empowerment and government incentive to have fewer children—not more.”

In the quintessential argument over whether the planet is half-empty/half-full, the overpopulation mantra is paused by these startling recent headlines:

  • “Everyone knows that the world is overpopulated, or soon will be. But what if everyone is wrong.” — Steven Mosher, Population Research Institute, Feb. 8, 2019
  • “We’ve worried about overpopulation for centuries. And we’ve always been wrong.” — Vox 20, 2019
  • “The biggest problem the world will face is population collapse.”
    — Elon Musk, Jack Ma, Aug. 30, 2019

There are some over-population prophets who are going to have to eat their words.

Ehrlich wrote: “The battle to feed humanity is over.  In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now.”  Who could have imagined what would come next?  While human populations more than doubled between 1950 and 2010, food production tripled with only a 30% increase in land under cultivation.  The dire predictions of famines of Malthusian proportions were belied, say the EMPTY PLANET authors.  They now say only 14% of the world’s population is in the search-for-the-next-meal poor.

The simple fact is: In 1900 the average woman in the U.S. had 3.85 children.  Today the average is 1.9 children.  No society has ever recovered its population once its birthrate reached 2.1 children per couple or lower.

As Bricker and Ibbitson state in EMPTY PLANET, “All of this (talk about the end of plenty on our planet) is utterly wrong.”

Now, not tomorrow

Bricker and Ibbitson travelled the world to find out if the overpopulation is real or a myth.  They didn’t come up with the hypothesis of their book from the confines of a library.  The book is a narrative of modern history as much as it presents facts, and it looks back at something that is already underway – underpopulation in western Europe, Italy, Japan and North America already having birth rates below replaceability.  But also, unexpectedly, in China and India as well.

In Japan, women are not just forgoing birth, they aren’t even getting married or having sex!  Women completely avoiding their biological destiny to procreate (share in creation of life with God).  Will a sub-class of “uneducated” women arise who have all the babies?  A large population of women now have no compunction to do what they were created for.  Women in the 3rd world are having most of the babies now.  [For now, but they’re on the same trajectory.] And how does all this fly in the face of the Biblical unction to be “fruitful and multiply?” (Genesis 1:28) Bricker and Ibbitson say there will be no turning back.  Women are changing the world and running and ruling over whole economies in a demonstrable way, for better or worse, like no despot could ever imagine.

Bricker & Ibbitson: “We won’t have to wait thirty or forty years to feel the impact of population decline.  We’re feeling it today… We see it in every household where the children take longer to move out because they’re in no rush to settle down and haven’t the slightest intention of having a baby before they are thirty.”

Governments didn’t curb birth rates, women did

As women become more educated and urbanization progresses, birth rates decline.  Gone is the allegory created by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) of his Malthusian pond, that goes something like this:

A farmer’s pond had two lily pads but were doubling in number and size every day. The farmer was warned that it would choke the pond in 30 days. He didn’t worry about it for 28 days because it seemed so small. On the 29th day it covered half the pond. Then he only had one day to solve the problem.  The pond is the earth.  The lilies are human populations.  But Malthusian predictions are not happening.

Lilies in ponds are programmed to incessantly grow given the right circumstances.  Women are not mindless like lilies.  Females, provided with education, food, housing and a career, have changed their minds and reversed the once thought-to-be-inevitable course of history.

The overpopulation apocalypse has become the unimaginable diminishing population flopocalypse. Ehrlich’s population bomb imploded rather than exploded.

This decline in birth rate is accompanied by a prolongation in human life expectancy, not accomplished by a decline in childbirth mortality but an extension of the end years of life.  We suddenly find ourselves with a shrinking supply of youth to take care of a burgeoning population of sickly, fragile elderly.

Imagined population control

Ehrlich proposed that idea of introducing sterilants into water supplies and food staples to curb overpopulation.  Britain’s Prince Philip is said to have suggested maybe a deadly virus be introduced to cull the human population.

The movie Soylent Green, portrayed events predicted to occur in the year 2022, went one step better – create a food from “people” who would voluntarily line up to die on time but unwittingly contribute themelves to the betterment of the planet by heading off food shortages at the same time.

EMPTY PLANET confirmed by others

Others back up Bricker and Ibbitson’s claims:

Steven W. Mosher, author of Population Control: Real Cists and Illusory Benefits, points to the The United Nations which “continues to beat the overpopulation drum… Our present problem is not too many babies; it’s too few babies… The rapid aging of the population, by reducing the amount of human capital available, will dramatically darken humanity’s prospects in countless ways… Try selling cars, houses, refrigerators – or anything else, for that matter – in a depopulating country.  When millions of elders start liquidating their IRAs and 401(d)s to survive, the investment world crumbles… Stop telling us that we are having too many children already.  Our long-term problem, which is now upon us, is too few children.”

EMPTY PLANET cites this data: the world’s ratio of younger workers to older retirees is 6.3 to 1.0.  But by 2050 it will be 3.4 to 1.0.  Several countries in Europe are close to 2.0 to 1.0.

What was once implausible is now possible.  As an example of our rapidly changing world, Bricker and Ibbitson note that an 80-year old woman has a likelihood of out-living her 55-year old son who has a 17% risk of having a mortal accident.

Even liberal writer Daniel Kolitz, who is an advocate of less consumption, in his “Is The World Really Overpopulated?” treatise, posted at, says: “The richer a society that fewer children it produces… we expect increasing global wealth to manifest as slowed population growth and eventually population shrinkage.”

Elon Musk: “Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually, this is an outdated view.  The biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse. Not explosion. Collapse.”

If you want to hear Darrell Bricker and Darrell Ibbitson talk about the findings in their landmark book EMPTY PLANET you can tune in on YouTube, and what they call the defining event of the 21st century.


  1. Mary E says

    If there are less people, by millions, who will be using all the oil that the US plans to steal from Venezuela over the next two decades?? My my, what a major problem for Criminal Washington! The corporations won’t be able to sell all their wares (made in China of course) to as many people as they thought they would! Tough. Then the energy companies like PG&E in California won’t make as much money- or be the responsible party for all of the wildfires that have taken place over the past many many years .. they would have less people to power up so would have the ‘time’ to keep up with the required maintenance .Pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t make the obscene profits any longer because with less people on the earth, there would be less sickness..and thus, the lack of need for their overpriced products. Industrial farming would turn into old fashioned pasture raised beef and cows…and slaughter houses wouldn’t maim and torture those animals prior to their deaths there…because they wouldn’t have ‘produce’ more meat than can be safely done… On and on, those poor corporations and their wealty owners won’t be able to double their incomes every year…Then with less people, we can perhaps get back to breathing clean air and drinking clear water! Now we can see why the politicians of a certain ilk want women to bear children of incest and rape: keep the population UP….WRONG!!!!
    Less people, less problems!!
    Those jokers who wrote that book assailing lower populations are just that, jokers…
    and certainly not fooling the smart people.

  2. thomas malthaus says

    Why not use the word depopulation. Depending on what analysis one accepts, global fossil fuel supplies will be largely depleted in 20 years.

    A rapid population drop over time might alter that scenario to 25 years or so.

    The nagging question relates to what magical energy source hidden away for decades may replace fossil fuels. Solar and wind aren’t energy intensive.

    Some think Nikolai Tesla had the answer, but that his research papers were stolen shortly after his death. It has been referred to as “free energy” from what I read years ago.

    Other RI posters may be privy to what’s beyond fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

  3. Canosin says

    what’s the solution? starting in which countries? who’s deciding? who’s carrying out the onslaught….. and when it’s gonna be?

  4. Rilme Hakonen says

    What a rubbish argument. Just about every sentence is dead wrong. Here’s what depopulation looks like:

    And then there are people. Everywhere. Millions of them.
    Rome had a population of 1 million in 210 AD.

    The sudden appearance of 7,500,000,000 people. That’s 6,500,000,000 more people than there were in 1896.

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