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Quarter of U.S. Residents Will Be Over Age 65 by 2060: Census

Cropped shot of a group of seniors sitting on a bench outside

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — By 2060, almost a quarter of all U.S. residents will be over age 65, and life expectancy will reach an all-time high of 85 years, according to new reports the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.

The growth in life expectancy in the U.S. over the next four decades is expected to be slower than it was in the four previous decades.

Between 1970 and 2015, life expectancy rose by almost 8 years, but it’s only predicted to rise about 6 years between 2017 and 2060. That’s because in the latter half of the 20th century, there were decreases in infectious diseases and cardiovascular deaths, increases in vaccinations as well as the promotion of exercise and anti-smoking campaigns.

Looking forward, “the prevalence of preventable health risks — such as smoking, obesity, and, more recently, opioid-related overdoses — hinders overall population health and contributes to slowed gains in life expectancy,” according to the report which uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections.

Although women are still projected to live longer than men by 2060, as they do now, life expectancy is expected to grow larger for men than woman. While all racial and ethnic groups are expected to have gains in life expectancy, the biggest ones are projected to be for black men, American Indian men and Alaska native men, according to the report.

The U.S. is expected to grow by almost a quarter in the next four decades, from about 332 million people today to 404 million people by 2060. By 2028, the percentage of foreign-born people will be 14.9%, the highest level since 1850, according to the Census Bureau.

But growth hinges on U.S. immigration policy, according to the Census Bureau.

With high levels of immigration, defined as an increase of 50% above last decade’s levels, the U.S. population could grow to 447 million people by 2060. With no immigration, the United States would lose population after 2035, and the country’s population would decline to 320 million by 2060, according to the Census Bureau.

Immigration also will determine the nation’s diversity by 2060, said demographer William Frey of The Brookings Institution.

By 2045, whites will represent less than half of the U.S. population under current projections, but that could speed up to 2040 under the high immigration scenario, he said.

“If immigration was stopped, then we will stay majority white until 2060 but barely at 51.1 percent,” Frey said in an email. “But the story is different for the young under age 30 population.”

For those under age 30, the population becomes “minority white” in 2022 with the high immigration scenario. Under current projections, it crosses that threshold in 2024. Without immigration, whites under age 30 will be in the minority by 2032, Frey said.

Starting in 2030, international migration will be the biggest driver of population growth in the U.S., exceeding natural increases.

The country’s population growth will slow down over the next four decades, growing by about 2.3 million people a year through 2030. But it will then decrease to about 1.8 million a year from 2030 to 2040, and even further to about 1.5 million people a year from 2040 to 2060, according to the projections.

By Associated Press 9:57 PM EST

Source: Quarter of U.S. Residents Will Be Over Age 65 by 2060: Census

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How Eating Less Meat Could Help Protect the Planet From Climate Change

A view of herd of cows grazing in the valley of Campo Imperatore. Abruzzo. Italy. Europe. (Photo by: Daniele Orsi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

By dramatically changing the food we eat as well as the way it is grown and produced, humans can help stop the devastating impacts of climate change according to the latest report by the United Nations body on climate science.

More than 100 scientists from 52 countries put together the report, which was published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It takes a look at how land-use practices have impacted the planet and finds that deforestation, agriculture and other human activities threaten the world’s ability to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius, the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

However, the report is not all bad news and finds that if more of the world’s population shifts toward plant-based diets and reduces their meat consumption, it could significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change.

“Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said in a statement on Thursday.

The IPCC report says that if people eat more plant-based foods and sustainably produced foods from animals, that will “present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health.”

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Much of the world already eats very little meat, notes Timothy Searchinger, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute. Only about 25% of the world, mostly wealthy countries such as the United States, eat lots of meat, he says. But as countries with historically low meat consumption get wealthier, they will eat more meat and put even more strain on the environment — unless something changes.

“The big beef eaters need to eat less,” Searchinger says.

Meat such as beef and lamb is particularly inefficient to produce, because livestock need lots of space to graze, and that land is often space that used to be covered with forests. Lowering the amount of meat people eat would also decrease emissions from livestock and the amount of fertilizer raising them requires.

Adopting these kinds of changes for people around the world could free up several million square kilometers of land and reduce carbon emissions by up to 8 gigatonnes annually by 2050, according to the report. Food waste is also a major issue, with more than one quarter of food going to waste right now.

Not only do humans need to reduce the amount of land used to produce meat, but they also need to use that land more efficiently. Sustainable farming practices are necessary to ensure that land remains usable as the planet heats up.

This is particularly important because the report raises serious concerns about how climate change will harm food security. Parts of Africa, high mountain regions of Asia and South America are already experiencing these issues, according to the report.

“Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines — especially in the tropics — increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The countries that are likely to be most severely impacted by climate change are often low-income places that have not been the leading contributors to global warming, researchers said. Farmers in these places will have to adapt to more intense weather patterns, droughts and floods, as well as their land decreasing in yield.

Searchinger says this will require global help, from agronomic improvements to economic investments in communities experiencing food insecurity.

“We also need social security systems for these farmers. We have social security systems so relatively few people starve here,” he said. “There, if you’re a poor small farmer, you starve and have to sell off all your equipment, and then you’re stuck.”

The IPCC report offers some ideas about how to mitigate the impact that agriculture has on climate change and how to help vulnerable areas keep producing food. But one of its most important features is serving as a call to action, experts said.

“I’m thrilled to see the IPCC making some bold statements on the need to focus on land, food and agriculture,” Ruth Richardson, executive director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, told TIME. “It’s so important because food and agriculture systems are a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, so they’re a part of the problem and yet they’re also a critical part of the solution.”

There are plenty of obstacles to adopting the report’s suggestions around food. Not every country is going to stop eating meat, of course, but Searchinger of the World Resources Institute points to the rise in popularity of meatless products such as the Impossible Burger as a promising sign. He hopes that when the public and politicians see reports like this one they remember that food and agriculture are key factors in the fight against climate change.

“When people think about solving climate change and what governments can do, they have to think about agriculture,” he said.

By Abigail Abrams

Source: How Eating Less Meat Could Help Protect the Planet From Climate Change

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