Elon Musk warned that civilization will “crumble” unless people begin having more children.
The comments were made during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, during which the Tesla and SpaceX chief executive also slammed President Joe Biden’s domestic spending agenda.
“I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate,” Musk explained on Monday evening, as recorded by the New York Post.
“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,” Musk continued. “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.”
Following COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown measures, American birth rates have plummeted to their lowest levels in nearly a century.
“The U.S. birth rate fell 4% last year, the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years,” the Associated Press reported in May. “The rate dropped for moms of every major race and ethnicity, and in nearly every age group, falling to the lowest point since federal health officials started tracking it more than a century ago.”
“About 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, down from about 3.75 million in 2019,” the outlet continued. “When births were booming in 2007, the U.S. recorded 4.3 million births.”
Accordingly, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that deaths exceeded births in half of all states during 2020. Among the states with more deaths than births were Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Some northeastern states — including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts — saw deaths exceed births in both 2019 and 2020.
Beyond falling marriage rates among younger Americans, anxiety over climate change may be leading to lower fertility. An August investor note from Morgan Stanley economists explained that the “movement to not have children owing to fears over climate change is growing and impacting fertility rates quicker than any preceding trend in the field of fertility decline.”
Several thousand young people have signed the “No Future Pledge” — which encourages the avoidance of reproduction in the interest of cutting carbon emissions.
“Even though I want to have children more than almost anything, I am pledging not to, until the government takes the climate crisis seriously,” wrote one organizer in an opinion piece. “My generation is facing a future of economic instability, food scarcity and extreme weather events. With climate change forcing millions of people out of their homes, poverty and violence will inevitably rise. Who wants their children to face the worst that humanity has to offer? We can turn the tide, but this requires political will.”
“Until our government begins to act like the grown-ups they’re supposed to be, we will make uncomfortably grown-up decisions of our own and refuse to carry on as though all is fine.”
Meanwhile, China — which is facing significant demographic pressures due to its longstanding “one-child policy” — announced earlier this year that it will permit couples to have up to three children.
“The announcement by the ruling Communist Party represents an acknowledgment that its limits on reproduction, the world’s toughest, have jeopardized the country’s future,” The New York Times reported. “The labor pool is shrinking and the population is graying, threatening the industrial strategy that China has used for decades to emerge from poverty to become an economic powerhouse.”