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Can the population implosion be stopped?


“And when I die / and when I’m gone / there’ll be one child born, in this world / to carry on / to carry on.”
The song written by Laura Nyro and most famously performed by Blood, Sweat & Tears may have been overly optimistic.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the world is rapidly approaching a tipping point at which the birth rate won’t be enough to keep the population constant.
Climate-change prophets are probably jumping for joy (“Darn! I expelled more carbon dioxide. I should’ve settled for the wry smile!”), but demographics experts envision a multitude of problems in coming decades.
The economic impact of an aging population is obvious. With fewer consumers, who will maintain factory output by purchasing all the junk that keeps our landfills filled? All the messages we transmit into outer space in hopes of contacting aliens will have to include “We (heart) litterbugs!”
Nations will experience more and more difficulty meeting military enlistment goals. It’s like the Sixties slogan “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came – because they were all playing bingo.”
With fewer wage earners paying into Social Security, Medicare and pension funds, seniors will need to be increasingly inventive at making ends meet. (“Glad I still have my Daisy Red Ryder BB rifle. Them drones is good eatin’!”)
Don’t get me started on the inevitable theological dilemmas. (“How can I be holier than thou when there’s a shortage of ‘thous’?”)
Analysts also worry that having fewer siblings and cousins will leave future generations socially stunted. Well, in this case, AI can probably tell you all the same information as siblings and cousins. Just ask, “Who did Grandma really leave the heirloom jewelry to?” and get ready for an earful.
Infertility issues play a role in the declining birthrate, but the WSJ story focused on other factors. Bless the couples with the time, money and patience to produce large broods. But there is also a growing global recognition that (a) uteruses aren’t meant to be T-shirt cannons and (b) there’s something creepy about moms confiding, “Don’t tell the others, but you were always one of my three favorite backup children.”
The governments of various nations are encouraging childbirth with tactics such as tax deductions, extended maternity leave and expanded daycare; but so far, it’s difficult to reverse the downward trend.
Sure, parents would love to pitch in and honor a social compact; but they are hesitant to make a lifetime commitment when they have flashbacks to their childhood “best friend” cajoling them, “Hey, let’s both make a funny face during the class photograph. *Snicker* *Snicker*”
Perhaps Uncle Sam could make multiple rugrats more appealing by dispatching the Secret Service to clear the carpet of all those LEGO bricks, the Army Corps of Engineers to assemble swing sets or the Department of Transportation to reconfigure all GPS devices to declare, “Yes, we’re there yet!”
“Existential threats” are a dime a dozen; but unchecked, the population trend could be a genuine one.
If our species does become extinct, perhaps it would open opportunities for some enterprising cicada cinematographer.
I can see it now: inspired by the works of Michael Crichton, a double bill of “Trailer Park” and “Trailer World.” Cloned humans menace unsuspecting cockroaches! No blood, sweat or tears; but lots of clones thundering, “My nonexistent grandchildren never bother to call! I’m stomping mad!”

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.