Skip to main content

Tomorrow’s world

Elon’s right, we need to have more babies

Elon Musk with his youngest child, X AE A-Xii Musk. Twitter/Elon Musk

Father-of-six Elon Musk claims we need to follow his example, says Catherine Bennett in The Observer. “If people don’t have more children, civilisation is going to crumble,” the Tesla founder observed. “Mark my words.” He’s right about the numbers – birth rates in the UK and US are already below “replacement level” and falling. The problem is what to do about it. Programmes to boost birth rates clash with those for educating girls: “The more educated women are, the fewer children they have.” And as much as Musk sets a good example “insemination-wise”, you can’t help wondering who’s doing all the actual parenting. His ex-wife mentions a child-rearing staff of five – a luxury few can afford.

Despite what some people say, having babies is good for the planet, says Rémy Verlyck in Le Figaro. By 2050 Europe will have only a third of the young people it has today. The world’s population is predicted to peak in 2064, at an estimated 9.7 billion people, then fall to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. By then 23 countries will have seen their populations halve, including Italy, Japan and Thailand. As the working-age population shrinks, economic growth will be hampered, as will our capacity to pay for the innovation necessary for the ecological transition. It’s like investing in a company: not doing it might be more comfortable in the short term, but it leads to serious problems down the line.

We may not like him, but we need him

🏆🕺🏻People are furious that Time magazine has named Musk as 2021’s person of the year, says Finn McRedmond in The Irish Times. The 50-year-old is tricky to work for, a nightmare to be married to and enviably rich. But he clearly deserves the accolade. “There are few people – perhaps ever – who have had such an impact on the planet.” Besides, I think the main reason people hate Musk is that they find him and his bold ideas – colonising other planets, hyperloop transport systems and so on – too confusing. When threatened with “something new or hard to understand”, it’s easy to be negative. Humans like the idea of progress, but when we actually meet the strange characters who create change, our instinct is to shut them down. It’s a natural impulse, but also “the quickest way to put a cork in progress”. So raise a glass to him. “We do not have to like him, but we should know the world would be better off for more, not fewer, Musks in it.”

Get our daily newsletter in your inbox

We cut through the noise to give you a fresh take on the world – in just five minutes a day. Sign up for the newsletter here.