This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Are We Still Alive?

The latest US population projections assume that the death rate won't suddenly reach 100% today. Even the latest UN probabilistic projections don't offer a chance that this will happen. As NASA has prominently displayed on its website:
Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then -- just as your calendar begins again on January 1 -- another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.
And the Economist reminds us that over the centuries there have been plenty of people who have wanted to scare other people to death with predictions of the end of the world. I assume that there is some psychological explanation for that kind of behavior. But what always amazes me is that some people really believe that they can somehow survive the end of the world by burying themselves in caves, or something like that. That just doesn't make sense. If the world is really going to end, I can't see how it would end for most, but not all. What really happens, of course, is that every minute of the day the world as we know it does end for 105 people, although they are more than replaced by the 254 babies born in that same minute, moving the population forward.

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