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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS

Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598x, 25th November, 2016. 18.00 GMT

ANTHRPOCENE FEATURE | 21

average fertility rate is now below 2.5 children per woman, compared to
five half a century ago. The world has passed the point of "peak child".
There are fewer children on the planet today than ten years ago. As
fertility rates continue to fall to below replacement levels, it is likely that
peak population is only a few decades away.

The population boom, it now seems, was a temporary phenomenon. It
arose because for the first time in the history of our species most kids
got to grow up. Thanks to medical science. We no longer needed five
or six kids to ensure the next generation. But by the time we'd figured it
out, the world's population had quadrupled. Now we are adjusting.

I believe this is a big tipping point for humanity. The moment we can
contemplate a future in the anthropocene with, if not total confidence,
then at least without a sense of doom. If our numbers can be re- stabilised within a few decades, and if our individual ecological impact
can continue to be brought down by improved technology, then we have
a fighting chance of creating a good anthropocene.

Bring it on. FP

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FURTHER READING
Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester in the UK, who
is chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Union
on Geological sciences, has provided the magazine's editor with the
following list for further reading.

Jan Zalasiewicz et al (2008): Are we Now in the Anthropocene.
GSA Today. February, 2008.

Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Will Steffen and Paul Crutzen (2010):
The New World of the Anthropocene.
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, 2228-2231

Colin N. Waters et al (2015): Can nuclear weapons fallout mark the
beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2015, Vol. 71(3) 46-57

Will Steffen et al (2016):Stratigraphic and Earth System approaches to
defining the Anthropocene. AGU Publications.
Published online 12 August, 2016.

Issue 4 (October - December), 2016. Volume VII. Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598x.

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A print version would additionally have two blank pages, so this version is not routinely for sale as print, unless really wanted.

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