That’s how you spell “aging” in the UK, and that’s Guardian columnist Zoe Williams’s take on this week’s US Census Bureau report on the unprecedented aging of the world population. Calling out an alarmist press for presenting this demographic shift as either a crisis or a burden, she exposes the standard fallacies, pointing out that people will continue to work well past traditional retirement ages and be healthy enough to do so. Turning global wrinkling and global warming into bookends, Williams also points out that a decline in human fertility will give the planet a bit of much-needed breathing space.
“The rise in the number of the old (and, according to this report, the "oldest old", classified as the over-80s) is a massive success story,” Williams writes. “Life expectancy increases with better education, greater wealth, lower infant mortality, better health care, less disease, the reduction of armed conflict, and the development of technology and its application in pursuit of good. It is, frankly, insane to look at an ageing population and not rejoice.” How long will it take for the media’s appetite for conflict and crisis to catch up with the facts?