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Japan's Ageing Population Could Actually be Good News

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Yesterday our Wall of Shame spotlighted a story by The Week’s Sarah Eberspacher headlined Everything You Need to Know About Japan’s Population Crisis. The real crisis is that our world today is overpopulated. Anyone fully informed about the state of our full planet would not characterize a naturally declining population as a crisis.

Imagine my delight to discover a piece of enlightened journalism about Japan’s shrinking population. The publication of Japan’s Ageing Population Could Actually be Good News is actually good news in itself, especially because it was penned by overpopulation denier Fred Pearce.

In pieces such as The Population Myth and On World Population Day, Take Note: Population Isn’t The Problem Pearce has previously advised us to relax about the world's growing population. He is of the opinion the problem is solving itself, and doing so at an acceptable rate. He’s attempted to convince readers we have to choose to either focus on overpopulation or on overconsumption in our efforts to bring human civilization into sustainable balance on the planet. That’s nonsense. 

On the plus side, Pearce wrote today’s Wall of Fame honoree (I suppose that’s why it’s so frustrating when he writes nonsense about overpopulation).

“Japan has the world's oldest population, with a median age of 46 years, an average lifespan of 84, and a quarter of the population over 65. But this doesn't have to mean a gloomy future. What happens in the coming years might even point the way for other countries.”

Words like this offer the outside-the-box thinking required if we are to break free of the chains of our Paleozoic worship of growth. It’s not 100% clear that Pearce buys what he is writing here, because some of the best thinking comes when he quotes others:

“The proportion of Japan's population that is dependent on those of working age isn't unusual, he says, it's just that it has almost twice as many over-65s as children. Consequently Japan spends less on education.”  (quoting demographer Nicholas Eberstadt)

This is the kind of information busting the "aging population" scare I shared yesterday in the video portion of my critique of Everything You Need to Know About Japan’s Population Crisis. Today I salute Fred Pearce and New Scientist for this breath of fresh air in population reporting. There is much more brilliance in Pearce's story, which is quite brief. Check it out; you may learn something!

This critique was updated at 9:53 a.m. MST on January 21 to correct the error attributing this salute to the wrong author, with apologies to both Fred Pearce and George Monbiot. Vote to reflect your applause (for Pearce and New Scientist), scroll down to join the conversation, and show your appreciation for our work here by making a tax-deductible donation to keep this project alive. Thank you.

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Guest Thursday, 11 February 2016

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