A social researcher and a journalist critique diagnoses of a coming overpopulation of Earth and counter it with the opposite conclusion—that birth rates are declining and will lead to a significant dip in the human population over the next century.
Their book is a vital warning to the world that the risks associated with population have been catastrophically misread: Governments and activists have spent decades fighting the specter of overpopulation, but now face the looming demographic calamity of global population collapse ... the authors combine a mastery of social-science research with enough journalistic flair to convince fair-minded readers of a simple fact: Fertility is falling faster than most experts can readily explain, driven by persistent forces ... Empty Planet succeeds as a long-overdue skewering of population-explosion fearmongers. But the book seems more confused about what should be done ... Population decline is a new problem, and not well understood: Western societies have not faced its effects since the bubonic plague. Messrs. Bricker and Ibbitson can perhaps be forgiven, then, for their inconsistency on what to do about low fertility. They have done crucial work to start a conversation. Let’s hope it goes somewhere before it’s too late.
This is a popular guide to modern demography, by two Canadian journalists, with a very strong point of view about the direction of travel. It is full of fascinating speculation and written with an energy that degenerates only occasionally into jauntiness ... wielding a mix of data, argument and reportage, the authors do a decent job of explaining why [population decline] is probably going to happen ... their proselytising for the Canadian ideology of the citizens of nowhere—economism, individualism, androgynous feminism, multiculturalism—is rather charmingly undermined by their own acknowledgement that Canada is a historical one-off and a somewhat colorless one at that.
Empty Planet is not a book about statistics so much as it is about what’s driving the choices people are making during the fastest period of change in human history. Ibbitson and Bricker take their readers inside the Indian slums of Delhi and the operating rooms of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to eavesdrop on the conversations young professionals have at dinner parties in Brussels and over drinks at a young professionals’ club in Nairobi. The end result is a compelling challenge to long-entrenched demography dogma, Trojan Horse-d inside an accessible, vivid portrait of modern families from every walk of life.