The Coming Age of Age
Suppose that the world reaches the apocalyptic year of 2000 with society intact, with humanity secure, and with the future bright.
This is by no means a foregone conclusion. Though the year 2000 is not very far in the future, the various and assorted scourges of a rising population and declining resources, of growing pollution and the worsening quality of the environment, of increasing hunger and the diminution of available energy, all seem to make it appear that mankind is on a collision course with catastrophe and that the worst cannot be long delayed.
But suppose, nevertheless, that we make it. If we begin with that assumption, we can argue backward from that and determine what some of the characteristics of the world at the opening of the twenty-first century would then have to be.
We must, for instance, suppose that the population problem will, in 2000, have come near enough to a solution to allow the survival of our society.
At the present moment it seems that, barring unbearable catastrophe, the inertia of the current pattern of population dynamics will bring us to the year 2000 with 6 billion people on Earth.By then (we can hope) the growing weight of misery will have taught the world, in the harsh school of despair, that population must not rise further. Indeed, it must fall.
In that case, the year 2000 (the one we are imagining, the one in which mankind will be facing a bright future) will have to see a world in which the birth rate is everywhere falling, in which zero population growth is within reach, and in which negative population growth is the at least temporary goal being striven for.