A Museum for the Nation: Publics and Politics at the by Kristina Kate Phillips

By Kristina Kate Phillips

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The European Union, and especially the single-currency block within it, also happens to be an area of remarkably low fertility by historic standards. If I had to put money on any one projection, I would put it on the 2003/2004 central projection of the UN. This is because I think we are currently experiencing a small global baby boom, an echo of earlier larger booms, but projecting forward as if that boom is not going to end soon, as the 2011 report does, is foolhardy. 3 billion a century later, in 2175.

John Wilmoth is no idiot. A professor in the Department of Demography at Berkeley, University of California, he was seconded to the Population Division of the United Nations from 2005 until 2007. Wilmoth’s main interests are in longevity, and how long all of us may one day get to live. At the foot of his web page is a tribute to Christian Mortensen, 1882–1998, the Danish American who appeared to enjoy smoking (Danish) cigars almost up to the point of his death, at age 115. 43 34 Mortenson may have lived a long time, but Danes in western Europe generally die a little earlier than their neighbours, it is thought most probably due to their smoking a little more.

After today, we are already in ‘debt’ towards nature and planet Earth and this is where the other name of the day (Ecological Debt Day) comes from. 27 Debt is scary; debts have to be repaid if you are not to become a pariah. Stories about Earth Overshoot/ Ecological Debt Day are the stick; stories about the potential reliability of wind power are the carrot, but between these buffetings of doom and optimism it is easy to lose hope and interest, or to think that this is all too much to comprehend.

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