Phil Lawler is nobody’s fool. He is an author, speaker and founding editor of Catholic Culture, the first online English-language Catholic news service.
Mr Lawler is not an alarmist, though he has prudently sounded an alarm: a population implosion is on the way. In a cogent and concise article, “The Coming Population Implosion,” he cuts to the chase:
“For the first time in world history, there are now more living human beings above the age of 65 than below the age of 5.”
The appearance of this article is significant because his readership is a culturally conservative one, folks who tend to be more socially responsible in their choices, familial and otherwise. Such people are more inclined to plan and prepare for the future.
“For the first time in world history.” Let that sink in. If anyone is left out there who still thinks that the world is muddling along as usual, take note:
- Native populations in Global North countries are declining. In the West, population numbers are propped up only by immigration.
- Fertility is also falling throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa. Only in sub-Saharan Africa are people still replacing themselves.
- Europe is headed into depression from spiralling energy costs. While these added costs are entirely avoidable, European politicians lack the spine to chart their own course.
- The world order is changing before our eyes to a multipolar one. The US dollar’s role as the dominant reserve currency is receding.
- Climate change, a continual process, is now affecting the world’s most productive agricultural regions. How much of this is man-made (anthropogenic) is unknown.
- Secularism dominates the industrialised world.
On the latter point, for 2000 years, Christendom expanded. Now Christianity is contracting in the West, losing its foothold in the Middle East and on the defensive elsewhere. In a few decades there will be more Muslims than Christians worldwide.
Mass conditioning and compulsive behaviour are endemic. Addiction, if not to drugs and alcohol, then to devices and PC virtue-signalling, is prevalent in the industrialised world. All this causes a lack of faith in the future, an emphasis on the now, and falling fertility.
As Mr Lawler notes:
So the doomsday prophets who warned against the dire consequences of overpopulation were wrong. Paul Ehrlich, the celebrated author of The Population Bomb, who predicted worldwide famines in the 1970s “in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now,” was wrong. Even Pope Paul VI, insofar as he incorporated worries about overpopulation into Humanae Vitae, was wrong. The problem that the world must soon face is underpopulation.
Back then we had no idea. Today Pope Francis and a good many religious leaders of all stripes are hectoring their flocks about having children. There will be those that get the message.
With boomers dying out and not being replaced, there is a smaller cohort of up-and-comers. And given the PC culture in which they are coming of age, large families will be few. It goes without saying that population contraction means economic contraction. The fewer creative young people, producers and workers there are, the less of an economy there is. Artificial intelligence and mechanisation can mitigate this only to a limited extent, just slowing things down.
We’d best face up to what is on the horizon. Without enough younger workers to support the huge retiree population, social welfare systems in the Global North will either collapse or be radically overhauled. Reliance on the state for old-age security may become a thing of the past. Radical change is inevitable, though it could possibly come about incrementally. But don’t bet on it. Governments cannot go on printing new money forever.
Now doom and gloom is one thing. Putting us on notice is something else again. There are reasons to be optimistic. There will always be a population of conscientious and intelligent traditionalists and religious conservatives. While the first world may well descend into a dark age, stunting development elsewhere, there will be a significant element that resists.
These people of faith and practicality will find themselves, wittingly or not, acting in concert to preserve faith, folk and family. In doing so they will preserve, improve and build civilisational enclaves that will serve as an example for the rest of humanity. In The Past is a Future Country, authors Edward Dutton and J. O. A. Rayner-Hilles refer to these enclaves as “Neo-Byzantium.”
So the future underpopulation of which Mr Lawler and others speak is already kicking in, though population continues to increase. Per Mr Lawler:
Right now the world’s population is at an all-time high, allowing the mythmakers to continue peddling fear about overpopulation. But the ominous trend is easy to spot, for anyone willing to see the signs of the times.
“Willing to see the signs of the times.” Mr Lawler nails it.
So the likeminded among us should begin preparing for a civilisational winter. Make a virtue of necessity, band together, put religious and ethnic quibbling behind us, and prepare for a future “Neo-Byzantium.” Yes, this is decades in the making, so we should consciously and conscientiously start now.
By at least beginning to cooperate, we’ll be better able to weather whatever crises present themselves in the interim, be they world war, pandemic or depression. The wisdom of this is as old as time, once summed up by Albert Einstein:
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”
Just being realistic, folks. What we begin doing now will secure a brighter future for ensuing generations. Such an endeavour provides no instant gratification, to which culture carriers through the millennia can attest.
As the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.”