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Elon Musk thinks the population will collapse. Demographers say it’s not happening

By Jen Christensen

Billionaire Elon Musk tweeted, not for the first time, that “population collapse due to low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming.” Climate change is a serious problem facing the planet and experts say it’s difficult to compare problems.
What is clear, demographers say, is that the global population is growing, despite declines in some parts of the world, and it shouldn’t be collapsing any time soon — even with birth rates at lower levels than in the past.


The amazing ‘spike maps’ that will change the way you see Earth

By Christopher Carbone

Eye-opening population density spike maps have revealed the true scale of how jam-packed America's coastal areas are compared to its interior – and the staggering detail that New York City's five boroughs could hold all the people on Earth if they stood shoulder-to-shoulder.


World population will reach 8 billion by November, U.N. says

By Derek Saul Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

The world population will surpass eight billion people on November 15, according to projections from a United Nations report released Monday – though population growth is at its lowest level in decades.


Why American Women Everywhere Are Delaying Motherhood

By Sabrina Tavernise Photo: Stephen Speranza

Luz Portillo, the oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, has many plans. She is studying to be a skin care expert. She has also applied to nursing school. She works full time, too — as a nurse’s aide and doing eyelash extensions, a business she would like to grow.


Op-Ed: The complex link between population decline and a warming planet

By Jade S. Sasser Photo: Associated Press

It’s time to stop blaming overpopulation for our environmental woes and start looking at the factors that really matter — resource consumption and toxic exposure as population growth and fertility rates show downward trends. U.S. and global populations are both growing at slower rates. In the period between July 2019 and July 2020 alone, the growth rate in the U.S. had slowed to just 0.35%, the slowest recorded since at least 1900. And this isn’t just because of a COVID-19 baby bust. Rather, this is a part of a long-term trend, decades in the making.


An unexpected side effect of climate change? More stillbirths

By Matthew Rozsa Photo: Salon/Getty Images

Climate change is perhaps the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced — and as environmental research accumulates, we keep discovering unexpected side effects of making industrial civilization reliant on fossil fuels. The latest one: a likely link between global warming and increased numbers of stillbirths.

Climate change is perhaps the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced — and as environmental research accumulates, we keep discovering unexpected side effects of making industrial civilization reliant on fossil fuels. The latest one: a likely link between global warming and increased numbers of stillbirths.


It’s wrong to blame ‘overpopulation’ for climate change

By Sarah Kaplan Photo: Michael Parkin for The Washington Post

When the Census Bureau released data recently showing that the United States population is growing at its slowest rate in almost a century, an old question reappeared in environmental reporters’ inboxes: Do we need a smaller population to save our warming planet?


Should We Worry About Population Decline?

By Robert Kunzig Photo: Yang Bo, Vcg/getty Images

Which are you more worried about, population growth or population decline? Or do you prefer to freak out about both at the same time?
The recent Census Bureau report that the U.S. population grew in the last decade at the slowest pace since the Great Depression triggered a slew of concerned stories. China, the world’s most populous country for now, just reported even slower growth than the U.S. All this and more (including decades of low fertility in Europe, South Korea, and Japan) caused the New York Times to make the looming social and economic dangers of population decline its lead story on Sunday—even though global population is likely to keep growing into the second half of this century, maxing out somewhere around 10 billion.


Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications

By Damien Cave, Emma Bubola and Choe Sang-Hun Photo: Gilles Sabrié

All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore.


Shrinking Population in China Brightens the Climate Outlook

By Peter R. Orszag Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

The world has yet to apprehend the tectonic shift that will occur as China’s population starts to decline. That long-anticipated event did not occur in 2020, according to official data, but it will probably occur soon. From a climate perspective, the population decline is good news, since fewer people means lower emissions. As with many of the uncertainties surrounding the planet’s future, it’s hard to foresee the exact carbon impact from population decline.