Jan 25, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Billionaire genius Elon Musk is pursuing his dream of populating Mars but in a recent statement, he made it clear that his efforts are not due to a fear of the Earth becoming overcrowded.

“Not enough people”

“There are not enough people. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are not enough people. I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birthrate,” Musk said at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council. “And yet, so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control. It’s completely the opposite. Please look at the numbers. If people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”

Decreasing world population

As usual, the numbers support Musk’s assertion. The global growth rate in absolute numbers accelerated to a peak of 92.9 million in 1988 but has declined to 81.3 million in 2020. Long-term projections indicate that the growth rate of the human population of this planet will continue to decline and that by the end of the 21st century, it will reach zero.

The main driver of this trend is a decreasing fertility rate from 5.0 in 1960 to 2.3 in 2020.In order to maintain its population, ignoring migration, a country requires a minimum fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. In a counterintuitive manner, fertility drops drastically in almost all societies to well below this level as they grow more wealthy.

This is especially true in the US. This year, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the American birth rate fell for the sixth consecutive year in 2020, with the lowest number of babies born since 1979. In 2020, the general fertility rate in the US was about 56 births per 1,000 women – the lowest rate on record and about half of what it was in the early 1960s. The decline in birth rates was seen across all measured racial and ethnic groups. According to the CDC, this rate has generally been “below replacement” since 1971 and has consistently been below replacement since 2007. Today, the US total fertility rate sits at 1.6 – another record low. One of the factors driving this trend is the rising average age of mothers.

Population decline has severely deleterious effects on society including a rise in the dependency ratio which would increase the economic pressure on the workforce. Aging populations would require more care and would result in economic deflation. Technological innovation would alsi decline as would militaries. Sociologists claim that underpopulation results in ethnic conflict, forced refugee flows, and hyper-nationalism.

Israel: Increasing population

One of the few exceptions to this is Israel which has displayed population growth since its inception in 1948. Israel’s annual population growth rate stood at 2.0% in 2015, more than three times faster than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of around 0.6%. With an average of three children per woman, Israel also has the highest fertility rate in the OECD by a considerable margin and much higher than the OECD average of 1.7.

Rabbi Berger: Having children brings Messiah

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, praised Musk’s statement.

“The Messiah will not come until all the souls that God wanted in the world are born,” Rabbi Berger said. “Any effort to prevent births, to prevent the first mitzvah in the Torah, are working to delay the Final Redemption. In Egypt, Pharaoh tried to prevent the Jews from leaving by killing the babies and trying to dissuade the Jews from having more children. But God performed a miracle and the Jewish mothers had six babies with each birth, lessening the enslavement of the Jews from 400 years to 210 years.”

“When a person decides not to have children, he is rejecting the first mitzvah, rejecting his role in partnering with God in filling the world with life. This comes from a person wanting to replace God as master of the world. It is the basis of idolatry.”

Musk has certainly put his money where his mouth is and is currently the father of six children (his first child died of sudden infant death syndrome at the age of 10 weeks).

Despite his grand visions of science and technology, Musk’s vision does not include a God-like eternal life.

“I think it is important for us to die because most of the time, people don’t change their mind, they just die,” he said in the interview. “If they live forever, then we might become a very ossified society where new ideas cannot succeed.”

Rabbi Berger was unfamiliar with Musk before being interviewed about the high-tech billionaire but he noted that Elon was a Hebrew name meaning ‘tree’. In an unprecedented manner, Rabbi Berger blessed Musk.

“May God bless him in his personal life and in his business endeavors,” Rabbi Berger said. “May his efforts be strengthened in the merit of his statements that are directed at bringing good to the world and bringing the time closer when all nations will praise God.”