We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Immigration Declines in USA
I have generally stayed away from
the broad immigration debate that has ragged for decades because it has been
traditionally wrong headed.Now we are
finally seeing the broad picture change with the present recession.
There is one basic fact always
ignored by pundits.Nations export
immigrants because their local economies are mismanaged due to government
failure or war.Who today worries about
excessive German or Italian immigration?
These numbers indicate that even Mexico
is beginning to get its act together.
In fact, both India and China are close to leaving the mass
immigration market.The only significant
exporter is the Islamic world and the advent of the Arab spring strongly
indicates that reforms are on the way there also.
History has shown that immigrants
are available only for a brief period of time from any given source in our
developing world.Recall that a necessary
prerequisite for immigration is an already acquired education. That becomes
possible when the sending country invests in education.That is why we qar4e starting to see Africans
now.Yet a generation later the tap
turns off because local growth retains the young.
The other huge unrecognized factor
is that the developed world has opted for much older maternity.We have transitioned from an average age of
say twenty one to a new average of thirty one.There may be some loss because of this but I am hesitant to proclaim a
real fertility problem at this time when minor policy changes can quickly
support a restoration of fertility.
I also expect a radical advance
inside the next decade or so in the whole process of birthing in which the
embryo will be carried only for three months and then incubated instead.At the same time aging reduction will allow
women to have children for at least an additional decade or even two decades.
In short, the apparent loss of
fertility may be a postponement rationally considered and ultimately beneficial.It is way too soon to jump to conclusions and
the only certainty is that the whole picture will look different again in a
decade or so.
Sharp decline in legal and illegal immigration could be a big problem
for the United States
The number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined
from more than 1 million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010 — a 60% reduction. Since
2008 naturalizations have dropped by 65% from North America, 24% from Asia and
28% for Europe. In fact the only place from
which naturalizations are on the rise appears to be Africa,
with an 18% increase.
The US could join Europe as a rapidly aging society with low birthrates and
little immigration to offset the demographics.
If current trends hold by 2050, Europe,
currently 730 million people, will shrink by 75 million to 100 million and its
workforce will be 25% smaller than in 2000.
By 2030 Germany will
have about 53 retirees for every 100 people in its workforce; by comparison the
ratio will be closer to 30. As a result, Germany will face a giant debt
crisis, as social costs for the aging eat away its currently frugal and
productive economy. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s Nick
Eberstadt, by 2020 Germany
debt service compared to GDP will rise to twice that currently suffered by Greece.
Europe, of course, is not alone in the hyper-aging phenomena. Japan, South
Korea, Taiwan and Singapore face a similar scenario of rapid aging, a declining
workforce and gradual depopulation.
Declining Birthrates, Expanded Bureaucracy: Is U.S. Going
I cover demographic, social and economic trends around the world. I am
a distinguished presidential fellow at ChapmanUniversity in California
and an adjunct Fellow at the Legatum Institute in London. I have published seven books,
including The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (Penguin 2010) and
The City: A Global History (Modern Library: 2005). I am also the executive
editor of www.newgeography.com.
To President Barack Obama and many other Democrats, Europe
continues to exercise something of a fatal attraction. The “European dream” embraced by
these politicians — as well as by manypundits, academics and policy analysts— usually consists of
an America governed by an expanded bureaucracy, connected by high-speed trains
and following a tough green energy policy.
One hopes that the current crisis gripping the E.U. will give even the
most devoted Europhiles pause about the wisdom of such mimicry. Yet the
deadliest European disease the U.S.
must avoid is that of persistent demographic decline.
The gravity of Europe’s demographic situation became clear at a
conference I attended in Singapore
last year. Dieter Salomon, the green mayor of the environmentally
correct Freiburg, Germany, was speaking about the
future of cities. When asked what Germany’s future would be like in
30 years, he answered, with a little smile, ”There won’t be a future.”
Herr Mayor was not exaggerating. For decades, Europe
has experienced some of the world’s slowest population growth rates. Fertility
rates have dropped well below replacement rates, and are roughly 50% lower than
those in the U.S.
Over time these demographic trends will have catastrophic economic
consequences. By 2050, Europe, now home to 730
million people, will shrink by 75 million to 100 million and its workforce will
be 25% smaller than in 2000.
The fiscal costs of this process are already evident. Countries like Spain, Italy
which rank among the most rapidly aging populations in the world, are teetering
on the verge of bankruptcy. One reason has to do with the lack enough
productive workers to pay for generous pensions and other welfare-state
Germany, the über-economy of the continent, has
little hope of avoiding the demographic winter either. By 2030 Germany will have about 53 retirees for every
100 people in its workforce; by comparison the U.S. ratio will be closer to 30. As
a result, Germany
will face a giant debt crisis, as social costs for the aging eat away its
currently frugal and productive economy. According to the American Enterprise
Institute’s Nick Eberstadt, by 2020 Germany
debt service compared to GDP will rise to twicethat currently suffered by Greece.
Europe, of course, is not alone in the hyper-aging phenomena. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and
Singapore face a similar scenario of rapid aging, a declining workforce and
In the past, it seemed likely America would be spared the worst
of this mass aging. But there are worrisome signs that our demographic
exceptionalism could be threatened. One cause for concern is rapid
decline in immigration, both legal and illegal. Although few
nativist firebrands have noticed, the number of unauthorized immigrants living
in the U.S.
has decreased by 1 million from 2007. Legal immigration is also
down. Meanwhile, the number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the
U.S. declined from more than 1 million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010 — a 60%
More troubling still, fewer immigrants are becoming naturalized
residents. In 2008, there were over 1 million naturalizations; last
year there were barely 600,000, a remarkable 40% drop.
The drop-off includes most key sending countries, including Mexico,
which accounts for 30% of all immigrants. Since 2008 naturalizations have
dropped by 65% from North America, 24% from Asia and 28% for Europe.
In fact the only place from which naturalizations are on the rise appears
to be Africa, with an 18% increase.
This drop off, if continued, will have severe consequences. Since 1990
immigrants have accounted for some 45% of all our labor force growth and have
increased their share from 9.3% to 15.7% of all workers. These immigrants, and
their children, have been one key reason why the U.S.
has avoided the deadly demography of Europe
and much of east Asia.
This decline can be traced, in part, by rapid decreases in birthrates
among such traditional sources of immigrants such as China,
India, Mexico and the rest of Latin
America. Mexico’s birthrate, for example, has declined from 6.8
children per woman in 1970 to roughly 2 children per woman in 2011. This
drop-off has reduced the number of Mexicans entering the workforce from 1
million annually in the 1990s to about 800,000 today. By 2030, that number will
drop to 300,000.
A second major cause lies with the improved economy in many developing
countries like Mexico.
According to economist Robert Newell, per-capita Mexico’s GDP and family income have
both climbed by more than 45% over the last 10 years . Not only are there
less children to emigrate, but there’s more opportunity for those who chose to
Asia not only has lower birthrates, and, for the most part, better
performing economies. As a result, immigrants — many of them well educated and
entrepreneurially oriented — who in earlier years might have felt the need to
come to the U.S. now can find ample opportunities at home. Many educated
immigrants and graduate students, notably from Asia, are not staying after graduation. America’s loss is Asia’s
Finally the weak U.S.
economy is also depressing birthrates to levels well below those of the last
decade — birthrates that could soon reach its lowest levels in a century. Generally, people have
children when they feel more confident about the future. Confidence in the
American future is about as low now as any time since the 1930s.
Other factors could further depress birthrate. High housing costs and a
lack of opportunities to purchase dwellings appropriate for raising children
have contributed to thegrowth of childless households in countries as diverse
as Italy and Taiwan. Until
now, American home prices — including those for single-family units — were
relatively affordable outside of a few large metropolitan areas.
But now many local and state governments — often with strong support
from the Obama Administration — are implementing European-style “smart growth”
ideas that would severely restrict the number of single-family houses and drive
people into small apartments. For decades, areas with affordable low-density
development (such as Houston, Dallas,
haveattracted the most families. If we become a nation of
apartment-dwelling renters, birthrates are likely to slide even further.
What does this suggest for the American future? History has much to
tell us about the relationship between demographics and national destiny. The
declines of states — from Ancient Rome to
Renaissance Italy and early
— coincided with drops in birthrates and population.
To many in Europe our entrance to the
ranks of hyper-aging countries would be a welcome development. It would also
cheer many academics and greens, and likely some members of the Obama
Administration, who might see fewer children as an ideal way to reduce our
carbon footprint. Perhaps happiest of all: the authoritarian Mandarins in
Beijing who can send their most talented sons and daughters to American
graduate schools, increasingly confident they will return home to rule the