Can you imagine, for one horrifying second, a world with no sushi and no vodka? We can’t. We can imagine a Hell of such description, yes. A fire and brimstone purgatory of infinite and unbearable pain. But not a world…at least not one in which we’d choose to live.
Well, get used to it anyway, say demographic trends.
By 2050, according to an ambitiously speculative forecast by TIME Magazine, “declining birth rates in two of the world’s most economically and politically influential countries, Japan and Russia, will cause them to fall from their current positions as the 9th and 10th most populous nations, respectively, to 16th and 17th.”
The Russian population, 142 million souls strong, will collapse by some 40 million people by the middle of this century if current demographic trends continue. The Japanese population, it is well known, has been shrinking (in numbers, not height…although that may also be true) since the middle of the last decade, when it topped out around 125 million.
By 2050, assuming again that current trends continue, that number will fall to around 100 million. Apparently, the Russians and the Japanese have better things to do with their time than to reproduce.
“But…but…who’s going to make our robots?” we hear some Reckoners wondering.
“And from where will we order our matryoshka dolls?” whines another.
Obviously we won’t have to go without these things…especially now that the rather populous Chinese can make knockoffs for half the price.
Of course populations rise and fall. That’s what they do. Indigenous tribes succumb to the aspirations of conquering marauders. Then, when looters turn incumbents, when foreigners set up camp and become “locals,” they in turn open themselves up for conquest from abroad…or from within. Such is the natural course of events.
That’s not to say politicians won’t try to stop it. The political class never met a situation they didn’t perceive as a problem…one in desperate need of their own unique and priceless solution.
This time it’s Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The newly “re-elected” Russian president has pledged to “reinvigorate” the Russian population by coaxing young couples into having more sex…or at least, more babies.
We were considering all this when we returned to the sparsely populated country of our own birth. With just over 20 million souls spread over her 7,682,300 square kilometers, Australia has one of the lowest population densities in the world.
Compare those figures with Hong Kong, for example, which has 6,349 people per square kilometre…or Monaco, which jams 16,923 men, woman and children into the same tiny area.
Before Russians stopped having little Vlads and Natashas, the Motherland experienced many an attack from resource-hungry powers abroad…Bonaparte and Hitler being only the last two in a long line of would-be conquerors. Thus far, Australia has avoided serious challenges to her claim on golden soil and wealth for toil, on nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare.
Australia “suffers” from an enticing embarrassment of riches. Flying over this vast land, we wonder for how long she’ll be able to hold onto these gifts of abundant natural resources …and who might try to make them their own.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
The “After America” Archives…
Debt-onomics and the Coming Debt-ocalypse
2012-03-17 – Nick Hubble
The End of Empires
2012-03-16 – Nick Hubble
Are Investment Ideas Useful?
2012-03-15 – Nick Hubble
A Chinese Mini Communist Revolution
2012-03-14 – Nick Hubble
The Final Countdown
2012-03-13 – Nick Hubble