Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes the biggest threat to humanity is the declining birthrate, warning that civilization will “crumble” if people don’t start having more kids.
“I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate,” the father of six said at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council Monday evening.
“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.”
The billionaire’s remarks came in response to a question about how his company’s not-yet-released Tesla Bot could solve labor issues.
At an unveiling event in August, Musk said the 5-foot-8-inch, 125-pound robot could be ready as soon as next year and it will have a “profound” impact on the economy by driving down labor costs.
On Monday, he added that the Tesla Bot could be a “generalized substitute for human labor over time” — which will become increasingly critical for businesses if the human labor supply falls.
The global birthrate has been steadily declining since 1960, according to data from the World Bank.
It’s not the first time Musk has warned about the declining birthrate of the global population. In 2017, he responded to a New Scientist article that explored the question of whether “the population bomb” could soon go off.
“The world’s population is accelerating towards collapse, but few seem to notice or care,” Musk said at the time.
In July of this year, analysts at Morgan Stanley attributed the declining birthrate to concerns related to climate change.
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,” they said at the time.
“Having a child is 7-times worse for the climate in CO2 emissions annually than the next 10 most discussed mitigants that individuals can do,” the analysts at Morgan Stanley said, adding that many would-be parents are forgoing family in an effort to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Despite research that has suggested having fewer kids would reduce a household’s impact on climate change, scientists have said population control isn’t a practical way to respond to climate change since it would be too late anyway.
Kimberley Nicholas, a sustainability science researcher in Sweden, said in an interview with Vox earlier this year that “it is true that more people will consume more resources and cause more greenhouse gas emissions.”
“But that’s not really the relevant timeframe for actually stabilizing the climate, given that we have this decade to cut emissions in half.”