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Danica Camacho is cuddled by her mother, Camille, as her father... (BULLIT MARQUEZ/Associated Press)
On this crowded, hot, trampled planet, one of the most vexing trends is something countless of us see when we look in the mirror: We're going gray.
The United Nations has declared that the human population will hit 7 billion Monday, and an expanding percentage of those people are in the market for reading glasses.
The aging of the human race has been faster than anyone could have imagined a few decades ago. Fertility rates have plunged globally and, simultaneously, life spans have increased. The result is a recontoured age graph: The pyramid, once with a tiny number of old folks at the peak and a broad foundation of children, is inverting. In wealthy countries, the graph already has a pronounced middle-age spread.
This is, in many respects, very good news. Longer life is a blessing of modern medicine and improvements in nutrition. Lower fertility corresponds to greater prosperity and education. Women have gained more control over their reproductive lives.
But the unexpectedly abrupt demographic transition has created economic upheaval. For the countries that hit the fertility brakes the hardest, the graying of society has become a full-blown crisis. They're suddenly desperate for babies. They need more workers to provide goods and services to huge numbers of pensioners.
The fertility rate in Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece and many other nations is less than 1.5 children per woman, dramatically lower than the "replacement" rate of 2.1 children (the extra


.1 accounts for children who do not survive to adulthood). Japan (fertility rate 1.4) is already the oldest country in the history of the world; South Korea (1.2) is not far behind. China (1.5) is racing to get rich before it becomes old. In far better shape demographically is the United States, with a fertility rate just slightly below replacement level. Immigration boosts the workforce. But the baby-boom generation is storming the higher age brackets; the number of Americans 60 to 64 jumped from 11 million to 17 million in the most recent census. When Social Security was established in 1935, life expectancy in the United States was just under 62 years at birth. Today it is 78 and still rising.end quote from Washington Post.

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And America is a juvenile country compared with Japan, where, by mid-century, the 65-plus cohort will reach 40 percent of the population. There will be, if trends hold, just one-working-age person per Japanese retiree.
"It's a big, big social change. Lots of things are going to be disrupted," said Ted C. Fishman, author of "Shock of Gray," a 2010 book whose subtitle frames the issue comprehensively: "The Aging of the World's Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation."
Fishman points out that this isn't all bad but rather is a challenge:
"Longer life is what humans beings have wanted ever since we started talking to spirits and mixing herbs in bowls. And we worked at the top of our intelligence to get to this point of our life. It took almost the sum total of human history to get it. And now we have to work at the top of our intelligence to solve the social challenges that come with longer life and aging societies."end quote.

It's a real change for us all and most people aren't aware fully of all the implications. In the developed world likely the birthrate will continue dropping. And in the developing world infant mortality might continue to increase as well as starvation. So, with 154 of 158 children being born every minute beyond those who are dying every minute to only the developing world, that means that only 4 children are born in the developed world for every 154 children born into the developing world every minute beyond the amount of people who die every minute. This is indeed something to think about wherever you live on earth. My wife was telling me the birth rate is this high mostly because of how many of those children in the developing world will die before age 30. This is also something that we should be thinking about. And paradoxically, into this world will also start to be people who theoretically at least may never die just due to medical and technical and psychological science expanding towards the singularity predicted to occur on or before 2045 AD at least in the most developed nations on earth.

I was also interested in how the author put it in the book "Shock of Gray" as "The Aging of the World's Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation."

For example, "Occupy Wall Street" is a part of this because it is primarily college age youth against the  old system that has accidentally disenfranchised them from their futures. So, I think it is obvious to everyone that some kind of new system that works will be created one way or another. It is my hope that this new system works within a democratic structure so everyone's needs can be better met.

Note: Also, even though the life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years at present this hides the fact that most schoolchildren are told by their teachers in the U.S. now, "If you live to be 30 you likely will see 90". This is a more realistic way to look at all of this if you live in the U.S."

But because of the changing world we all live in here is a Koan given to me by one of my teachers that might be relevant if you are 50 to 90 years of age:

"If you live to be 100 you will see 500
  If you live to be 500 you will see 1000
  If you live to be 1000 you will see 5000
  If you live to be 5000 you will see 10,000"

This is the potential reality for those already 50 to 90 or who reach 50 to 90 or above during the rest of the next few centuries and who already live in the developed world.