The Underpopulation Bomb

What are you most worried about?  Kevin Kelly, the editor at Wired, weights in on this question with many other thinkers at  Kelly took a twist on the title of Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book, Population Bomb, which spread paranoia about over-population.  That obviously didn't pan out the way Ehrlich predicted.  Kelly argues that the bigger problem now confronting us might be under-population.  

Here is Kelly:

Here is the challenge: this is a world where every year there is a smaller audience than the year before, a smaller market for your goods or services, fewer workers to choose from, and a ballooning elder population that must be cared for. We've never seen this in modern times; our progress has always paralleled rising populations, bigger audiences, larger markets and bigger pools of workers. It is hard to see how a declining yet aging population functions as an engine for increasing the standard of living every year. To do so would require a completely different economic system, one that we are not prepared for at all right now.

His response comes at the same time as a story in Slate that discusses a prediction that the world population may actually fall in the future.  

Perhaps it is my optimistic nature, but I'm not too worried about under (or over) population.  We humans are amazingly adaptable.  We seemed to have staved off the Malthusian nightmare predicated by pressures caused by a growing population.  I suspect we'll find our way around this dilemma too.  

This is especially true in light of the fact that we are less dependent than we once were on nature.  As argued in a recent issue of Policy Analysis by Indur Goklany:

By lowering humanity’s reliance on living nature, fossil fuels not only saved humanity from nature’s whims, but nature from humanity’s demands.