The pages of the New York Times are holy writ to the chattering classes – de rigueur reading for woke folk. For once, that is a good thing.
Huh? Yes – America’s nomenklatura now know about the global fertility crisis. Wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t made NYT. For the PC set it ain’t news unless NYT says it’s news. Late to the party or not, NYT’s article “Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications” lets it all hang out. Previously pigeon-holed to the periphery of public discourse, concern about falling fertility has finally gone mainstream!
Now whenever something shows up in NYT, I always wonder – as they say back home – how come? I learned to question why anything appears in the media back in the days of toiling away in the epicentre of the Empire to make ends meet.
Here’s the scoop: It all started with The Lancet’s groundbreaking study (published July 14, 2020) “Fertility, mortality, migration and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study“. The study’s authors characterised their findings as “jaw-dropping:” that global population would peak at 9.73 billion in 2064 and drop to 8.79 billion by 2100. They also projected an almost 50% drop in China’s population by century’s end (from 1.4 billion to 732 million).
The US population, even with continued mass immigration, would be 336 million by 2100, close to the 2020 Census. Of course relying on immigration to sustain population means that the US will be a new people by then, but that’s another story. The Lancet study projected that 183 of 195 countries and territories will have fewer people by 2100.
The Lancet let the genie out of the bottle. Then it percolated through the academy and seeped into the popular press. Thus the venerable Grey Lady (NYT), America’s “newspaper of record” (as the old saw goes, edited for those who think they should run the world) decided to cover it. The article is a veritable set piece:
Maternity wards are already shutting down in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in northeastern China. Universities in South Korea can’t find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks.
Germany’s situation is especially stunning. In September 2015, colonisation of the country by well over a million unskilled “Syrian refugees” began (which made no sense). Yet the retirement age (for those born in 1964 or later) has been raised to 67, and they’re talking about bumping it up to 69. Also, 330,000 housing units have been demolished due to deflated demand – a sure sign of societal shrinkage.
All the while, cities in Nigeria are teeming with people.
While industrialised East Asia and Europe are on the cusp of a population implosion, the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa have rapidly expanding populations. Current projections are that by 2100, there will be more Nigerians than Chinese. The times they are a-changin’!
It didn’t used to be that way. In 1900 there were 1.6 billion souls on the planet. By 2000 there were 6 billion. Infant mortality was in retreat, while life expectancy rose.
Things are really different now. For the first time in history, there is a sustained, long-term global population decline. That means unprecedented. Think about it – in all of history this has never happened, at least to humans.
Get the hint about what’s ahead? Apparently NYT does. Many countries are already seeing more retirees and fewer workers to support them. Crunch time is on the horizon. This could, as NYT says:
…upend how societies are organized… It may also require a reconceptualization of family and nation. Imagine entire regions where everyone is 70 or older. Imagine governments laying out huge bonuses for immigrants and mothers with lots of children. Imagine a gig economy filled with grandparents and Super Bowl ads promoting procreation.
Reconceptualisation is right. Time to face reality. Experts have been wrong time and again. Remember Thomas Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) and his “Malthusian Trap” where humanity would outrun food supplies? How about Paul Ehrlich’s best-selling The Population Bomb (1968) where he warned “…in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
Malthus missed the boat with his theory, and Ehrlich was dead wrong, but that didn’t ding his career in the slightest, with speaking appearances and awards coming his way for decades – not to mention his secure sinecure in academia.
So here’s the future:
The change may take decades, but once it starts, decline (just like growth) spirals exponentially. With fewer births, fewer girls grow up to have children, and if they have smaller families than their parents did — which is happening in dozens of countries — the drop starts to look like a rock thrown off a cliff.
“It becomes a cyclical mechanism,” said Stuart Gietel Basten, an expert on Asian demographics and a professor of social science and public policy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “It’s demographic momentum.”
The NYT, whose masthead says “All the news that’s fit to print” has (as they occasionally do) posted an article eminently fit to print. Again, a Grey Lady debut makes it official to the chattering classes that – let’s cut to the chase – humanity is on the way out. Following NYT’s lead, expect the entirety of the lamestream media to glom onto this.
I’m so glad to see that the world’s most pressing crisis made NYT front and centre – about time! A scholarly colleague familiar with these issues, upon reading NYT’s piece, remarked: “Finally the penny has dropped. Perhaps they have been reading MercatorNet.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.