Skip to comments.Lessons of Russia's Depopulation Disaster
Posted on 02/06/2003 7:44:17 PM PST by friendly
If Russia's sharply declining birth rate is any indication, depopulation, and not an overabundance of humans straining Earth's resources, is the real threat humanity faces.
Russia, writes Dr. Herbert London, president of Hudson Institute and the John M. Olin Professor of Humanities at New York University, is providing a lesson for the world of the dangers of depopulation.
And the problem of depopulation isn't merely Russia's - the whole Western world is facing a crisis of declining populations. Canada's National Post columnist Mark Steyn recently wrote that Italy's population decline matches Russia's.
"Because the state needs a birth rate of 2.1 children to maintain a stable population," Steyn revealed. "In Italy, it's now 1.2. Twenty years ago, a million babies were born there each year. Now it's half a million. And the fewer babies you have today, the fewer babies are around to have babies in 20 years.
"Once you're as far down the death spiral as Italy is, it's hard to reverse. Most European races are going to be out of business in a couple more generations."
Noting the Wall Street Journal's prediction Jan. 24 that "The world's population could decline by nearly 500 million people by 2075," London wrote in the Hudson Institutes American Outlook, "As notable as this statistic is, it pales in comparison to the demographic condition in Russia at the moment.
"The most recent predictions indicate a decline in the Russian population of twenty million people in the next decade due to an excessively low birthrate of 1.2 children per family (well below replacement level) and a rise in the death rate because of widespread alcoholism and the spread of disease.
"According to one Professor Antonov, 'Two thirds of Russian territory is settled now as sparsely as it was in the Neolithic Age: less than one person per square kilometer. In other words, east of the Urals, a demographic wasteland is superimposed on the geographic wasteland.'"
London blames "a dramatic decline in the desire for reproduction among the younger generation," explaining that "the prevalence of one-child families, the decline in the number of recorded marriages, the increase in cohabitation, and the rise in divorce are all symptoms of this condition."
London ascribes much of the problem to "the virtual breakdown of the traditional family." Another source, he warns, is an emerging belief "virtually unchallenged in social science that divorce and 'only-children families' are actually desirable conditions that must be protected. An undeclared war is being conducted against those who identify a crisis in the family and a resulting demographic implosion."
As a result of all of this, "if nothing dramatic occurs in Russia, to encourage larger families, the retreat from childbearing will continue and accelerate. Two children in a family will certainly no longer be the norm and, as a consequence, Russia could become a nation of only one hundred million in thirty years (it is about 149 million today)."
This sharp decline, London predicts, "could decide Russia's geopolitical fate. A decline of fifty million people could undermine the territorial integrity of that vast nation." The decline could also "undermine any effort to create industrial market capitalism, which depends on mass production and mass markets."
Accompanying the collapse of the family, London said, is a social atmosphere that produces "a revision in cultural perspectives has led to an unprecedented level of prestige bestowed on homosexual behavior as well as evidence of an increased rate of suicide."
Such conditions, he warned "not only threaten the familial foundation of civilization, but human self-preservation itself."
Russia, along with much of the West, "is in the midst of an historic revolution that is weakening the family, devaluing the role of children, and threatening depopulation ... It is no exaggeration to contend that Russia's future, and perhaps the fate of other nations, depends on the restoration of family- and child- centered lives. A relentless drive for consumer gratification and self-fulfillment have taken us down a path that threatens societal well being," he wrote.
Steyn's outlook is even gloomier, and he blames abortion as on of the prime causes of depopulation. "A society whose political class elevates 'a woman's right to choose' above 'go forth and multiply' is a society with a death wish," he wrote. And "today we're the endangered species, not the spotted owl. We're the dwindling resource, not the oil."
Steyn recommends: "Next time you're in a rundown diner and the 17-year-old waitress is eight months pregnant, don't tut "What a tragedy" and point her to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic. Leave her a large tip instead. She's doing the right thing, not just for her, but for all of us."
I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to prove, as many of the Russians living east of the Urals were forced by the Soviets to move there. I would imagine many of them returned back west the first chance they got.
Do you really want to go back to the way the world was 100 years ago?
There is nothing the other billions can do except get in my way and irritate me.
I'm not a lover of big crowds myself, but there are still plenty of places one can go to "get away from it all."
They are surplus population. The whole planet could use a good case of Ebola Zaire.
You've got to be yanking our chains here, because this is starting to sound downright Stalinesque. You are yanking our chains, right?
Why wasn't this posted in Breaking News -- AMAZING DISCOVERY: SCIENTIST FIGURES OUT THAT HARDLY ANYBODY WANTS TO LIVE ON ARCTIC TUNDRA!
I've already been flamed once on this supposedly conservative forum for pointing out the stupidity of actively rewarding such behavior. I'm not sure if it's because "conservatives" don't think that getting knocked up at 17 is irresponsible, or because they think that personal irresponsibility should be subsidized in general.
We have lots of wombs (imprisoned behind birth control). With proper incentives and authentic pro-family political reforms, those wombs could bear beautiful children.
I count Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Egypt as predominately Moslem. Now we understand a little more of Israel's concerns about the future.
I am amazed that Pakistan and Bangladesh are already as big as Russia, people-wise. I also didn't realize how large Indonesia has become.
Ehrlich would look at a patient catching a fever and predict spontaneous human combustion. London would look at a patient recovering from a fever and predict a corpsicle.
Close. How about governments just getting the heck out of the way?
They do seem to have that talent...
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