Monday, February 18, 2019

Empty Planet (Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson)

The United Nations estimates that the world could have around 11 billion inhabitants by the year 2100, an increase of over three billion from our current tally. In Empty Planet, authors Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson argue a much lower peak in population and predict a decline in the world’s population occurring sooner rather than later.

In a globetrotting book that takes readers from Africa to America to Asia to Atlantic Canada, the authors argue that those who reside in greater numbers in cities often yield fewer children compared to those who live in rural areas. Add to our increasing urbanization a better educated and more affluent world (two other factors that often yield fewer children per family), and the authors theorize that our world will likely not reach the aggressive population predictions that the UN has pegged for the coming decades.

According to Bricker and Ibbitson, such a scenario offers several distinct positives and risks for various parts of the world. The book breezily brushes through some potential impacts without delivering any distinct predictions, simply listing a few scenarios that could come to pass over the next hundred or so years in areas ranging from the climate to military to food.

The theory the authors put forth is certainly interesting and has factual backing. However, adding “what may happen if” scenarios without any substantive discussion or simply breezing through a few scenarios hurt what is a relatively interesting demographic book.