Demographic Doom
Why the World is Falling Apart


A book in Progress by Glenn Campbell
Read it free here!

The greatest threat to humanity is not climate change, nuclear war or Donald Trump.
It is disruptive changes in the structure of human populations.

 

“I donít mean to sound hysterical, but Iím starting to get hysterical. Demography has opened my eyes to a looming set of inevitable disasters that my brain doesnít have a solution for. The world is heading for a crash like it has never seen in modern times. I canít tell you when, where or how it will occur. I can only tell you why.”

The Manuscript

Introduction

Repent now! The end is near!

A massive worldwide economic crash is coming. When it happens, many institutions, utilities and government structures will stop functioning. After the initial shock, humanity will face a long chaotic period—maybe even a new dark age—where nothing seems to work. Many of the foundations modern society has been built on will crumble. Politics will descend into chaos as governments struggle to provide even the most basic services. People who once saw themselves as middle class will scramble to stay alive. With local economies in shambles, vast waves of desperate refugees will overwhelm the few islands of safety. All of these things are preordained. There is little we can do to stop them.

Iím not the first to make such claims. Crackpots have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world, so why should you listen to me? Maybe Iím a different kind of crackpot, backed up by a credible system of data and logic. I could be delusional, but at least itís a well-constructed delusion. If nothing else, you can see my theories as an intellectual challenge: ďFigure out how this guy is wrong.Ē

To be clear, Iím not actually predicting the end of the world. Planet Earth will not stop spinning and humans will not vanish from it. Instead, I foresee a massive economic catastrophe I call the Great Reversal. It will be like the Great Depression but much, much worse. Millions will starve. (I mean millions more than are starving now.) Many previously solid assumptions will crumble beneath our feet, like the value of the U.S. dollar or Germanyís ability to prop up Europe. Around the world, economic growth will be a thing of the past. ďContractionĒ will describe the world far into the future.

In simplest terms, the world will be brought down by a debt crisis. Governments, corporations and individuals have accumulated too much debt, which probably isnít news to you. What might surprise you is a different kind of crisis unfolding quietly in the background that is colliding with the debt crisis to guarantee a truly cataclysmic collapse.

The hidden crisis is this: Most countries of the developed world are on the cusp of dramatic population decline, thanks to a decades-long fall in birth rates. When these countries start losing population, as some already have, or their workforce merely stabilizes, economic growth cannot be sustained and any illusion of paying down their debt will vanish. When investors realize the paper they hold is dubious, interest rates will rise, increasing the cost of the debt and making it even less supportable. The crisis will accelerate; panic will set in, and the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.

ďBut wait!Ē you say, ďWhat population loss?Ē Isnít the world suffering from a population explosion? In the 20th Century, the total world census rose from about 1.6 billion to over 6 billion, and it is now on the road to 8 and 9 billion. How can I claim populations will shrink?

The population explosion is an illusion. It no longer exists. Only a handful of underdeveloped countries can still claim to be exploding. They are mostly in Africa, largely isolated from the rest of the world, and even their birth rates are slowing. Most developed countries are suffering from a baby shortage. Since the 1960s, their birth rates have plummeted, to the point where they are chronically below the number of babies needed to sustain their populations.

The total population of most of these countries continues to grow due to a statistical phenomenon known as demographic momentum, which introduces a time lag into the process. When the birth rate falls, the total population doesnít necessarily fall until the people from the previous high-birth period start dying of old age. As the boom generation retires and eventually passes on, the total population will stabilize and then drop, like reaching the top of a roller coaster. Once a population starts falling, it will do so at an ever-accelerating rate until the downward trajectory roughly matches the upward trend in the population explosion years.

And the decline will continue for the rest of the 21st Century! Even if birth rates were to suddenly rise, it will be decades before the total population starts to recover from its downward plunge. Thatís the other side of demographic momentum.

As the population of a country falls, especially the number of working-age people, total economic output must also fall. Quite simply, you canít have the same level of business activity if you donít have as many workers producing things and consumers buying things. Total tax revenues will drop, but the outstanding debts of the country will not decline accordingly. Those debt numbers are already fixed, like expenses already charged to your credit card. If a countryís high debt load was dubious even in the boom times, it will be absolutely unsustainable when the economy shrinks.

Voilŗ! There you have it. The perfect storm. Since population is certain to decline in most developed countries, government default on national debt is inevitable. Not every government has unsupportable debt right now, but when the big ones fall, especially the United States and Japan, the economic vortex will take everyone else down with them.

I contend this worldwide default is non-negotiable. It will happen regardless of what we do today. Even if the political will could be found to pay down national debts, it canít be done fast enough to match the loss of productive taxpaying workers. Although lack of babies is the core problem, it would not stave off collapse if every developed country suddenly produced a lot of them, because those babies wonít generate any significant tax revenue for at least twenty years. Until then, children are a burden to the economy, not a benefit.

And thatís not the end of it. Other processes are exacerbating the worldís demographic decline: Weaker countries are being drained of life by the flight of their talent. Stronger countries, although benefitting from this flight, are nonetheless being crushed by the pension and medical burdens of their aging populations. Many countries in Africa continue their population explosion, pumping instability into the rest of the world. Meanwhile, human procreation worldwide continues to favor the least successful members of society, who are likely to have more babies than the most successful. These issues are longer-term concerns than the debt crisis, but they won't go away. They will have to be dealt with if humanity is going to survive.

If governments collapse under their obligations and the worldwide economy dramatically contracts, much of our current civilization is under threat. Most of the infrastructure we now rely on is incredibly complex and depends on a high level of economic activity, technical expertise and government support, which all hinge on a presumption of unlimited growth.

For example, do you know where your data is? All those videos, family photos and business records you have uploaded to the ďcloudĒ might not survive if revenues dry up and providers of those services canít afford their electricity bills. Electric utilities, in turn, canít function if big clients shut down and income falls below the threshold needed to maintain their complex systems and service their own high debt. When a natural disaster strikes, like an earthquake or hurricane, many weakened systems will never be restored because they have no resiliency left.

For lack of a better analogy, the Great Reversal will be like the collapse of the Western Roman Empire but a whole lot faster. When Rome fell, life on Earth didnít cease, but Europeís underlying structure disintegrated. There was no one to maintain the roads, aqueducts or public order. A lot of investorsóor the ancient version of themólost everything. After the fall, the exercise of power became more brutal as local tribes vied to fill the vacuum the Romans left behind. In the end, Europeans built new societies even more sophisticated than Romeís, but it was a long, painful road getting there.

Iíve never seen myself as a Prophet of Doom, and I hope Iím wrong. I rather enjoy our current empire, and I would never wish upon the world the turmoil and outright starvation the Great Reversal implies. Still, when I run the numbers and walk through the logic, I see what I see, and I havenít found a way to discount my conclusions. I am writing this book to give you the opportunity to refute me, and I certainly hope you can.

I may be delusional or a crackpot, but one thing I am not is a conspiracy theorist. There are no conspiracies in the collapse of populations, except perhaps when one ethnic group tries to exterminate another. There are only individuals pursuing their own interests, multiplied by millions. Intentional malice is no more significant here than in the rise and fall of the tides. Itís just water molecules doing their thing under the influence of the moonís gravity with no intelligent control or sinister intent. A lot of foolish government decisions may have led us to the Great Reversal, but there was never any deliberate plan to screw things up.

I am also no salesman. Iím not peddling doom to try to get you to buy gold or Bitcoin or invest in my Ponzi scheme. At the moment, Iím not even asking you to buy this book. (Itís free to read while under construction.) Iím peddling doom because I think itís true. If Iím wrong and my theories don't pan out, Iíll be happy to play the fool to save the planet. If Iím right, I have no reason to be happy, because no one would wish this catastrophe on anyone.

I canít tell you when, where or how the Great Reversal will occur. I can only tell you why. It has to do with numbers. A major portion of the worldís destiny is determined by the raw number of people in the various countries and subcultures of our planet, along with their age and gender distributions and how these groups are changing. The study of these numbers is called demography. Itís a seemingly dull field mainly concerned with counting people and sorting them into categories.

I used to have little interest in demography. Now I think itís the most important field in the world.

  Continue reading in the PDF File  

 




The Author

Demographic Doom: Why the World is Falling Apart - cover image

Partial Table of Contents

         Introduction
1.       The Horror
2.       Doomsday Apologies
3.       The Debt Bomb
4.       The Great Reversal
5.       Structure of this Book

Section I: Touring the World
6.       Nine Destabilizing Processes
7.       Demographic Statistics 101
8.       Economic Statistics 101
9.       Vanishing Japan
10.    Five Axioms
11.    The Baby Boomer Bomb
12.    Dependency Ratio
13.    The Breaking Point
14.    Venezuela
15.    China and the One-Child Policy
16.    Can China be Saved?
17.    Nature Thwarted
18.    Greece and Puerto Rico
19.    Positive Feedback Loops
20.    The Rise of Separatism
21.    Sri Lanka
22.    Africa
23.    The World

Section II: The Great Reversal
24.    The Coming Earthquake
25.    Breaking News: The Trump Tax Cut
26.    The Case for Catastrophe
27.    The Great Rupture
28.    The Set-Up: 2008

Thereís no rocket science here. No gazing into a crystal ball. It is more like counting ping-pong balls where each has a limited lifespan. Because the production of new balls has been greatly reduced over the past half-century, there is no mystery about the eventual outcome. First, the developed countries will start losing population, then the whole planet will start losing population. All the while, the proportion of old ping-pong balls will grow ever larger relative to young ones. As the old ones lose their bounce, the young ones will find it impossible to support them. This deteriorating pattern is all but certain over the next half-century no matter what we do now. In coming decades, wars and pandemics may prematurely kill adult ping-pong balls, and migration may move them around, but nothing can magically create them if they were never born.










Other Books by Glenn Campbell


The Case Against Marriage

Harper Junction
(novel)
Area 51 Viewer's Guide
Area 51 Viewers Guide

Limbo
(novel)
Witch-Hunt in Norway
Witch-Hunt in Norway

Kilroy Cafe
(essays)

Timeline

I am actively working on the Demographic Doom manuscript and usually upload a new PDF every day. The timeline below records unusual or transitional events, latest first.

Pre-History

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