Welcome to the Pale Gray Dot
April 26, 2016
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
– Robert Frost
“It's paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn't appeal to anyone.”
– Andy Rooney
“Deng Xiaoping made a calculation. He bet on demographics. What he knew was that China had this enormous population of young, underemployed people, people who he could move from the farms to the coast and put them to work in factories, and that would be the lifeblood of China's economy.”
– Evan Osnos
(My comment on that quote: He launched this policy after he went to Singapore in 1978 and saw what Lee Kuan Yew had done and then went back home to duplicate that effort, albeit in a manner that would work within the Chinese system. But he did ride the tidal crest of demographics.)
In February 1990, the Voyager 1 space probe reached the outer edge of our solar system. NASA commanded it to take a last image of Earth from 3.7 billion miles away. The planet is only a small speck from that distance.
Seeing that image, Carl Sagan profoundly called our home a “pale blue dot” in the vastness of space. Since then, we inhabitants of that pale blue dot have been turning gray at a rapid pace. The resulting demographic changes may appear insignificant against the backdrop of the cosmos, but they are increasingly visible here at ground level.
The aging of the world’s population is already having profound effects on the global economy, and it is only getting started. Today...