Population collapse was a conspiracy theory earlier, but is now “good for us”
The Telegraph picked the perfect messenger to communicate the new way we should think about population declines. A high-level WEF adviser tells us:
Oxford Professor Sarah Harper is a very important person. The Telegraph article listing her credentials forgot to mention that she serves on the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Societies of the World Economic Forum.
Here’s Prof. Harper speaking at a WEF meeting:
Prof. Harper is thrilled about recent declines in fertility:
Prof Harper told the Telegraph: “I think it’s a good thing that the high-income, high-consuming countries of the world are reducing the number of children that they’re having. I’m quite positive about that.”
The academic said declining fertility in rich countries would help to address the “general overconsumption that we have at the moment”, which has a negative impact on the planet.
Most importantly, declines in births will bring about reductions in CO2 emissions from wealthy nations, Sarah points out:
Research has found that wealthy nations tend to have much larger carbon footprints than poorer countries, as rich people can afford to buy more goods, travel more and do other activities that generate emissions.
Carbon emissions from high-income countries were 29 times larger than low-income countries on a per capita basis in 2020, World Bank figures show.
Population Declines, or Population Replacement?
Here’s the strange part: if the leadership of the World Economic Forum wanted to reduce emissions from wealthy countries, I could understand how they would hope that population reductions would lead to a decline in economic output. Aside from moral implications, it is simple math that fewer people means fewer cars on the road, less food consumed, and so on.
However, something entirely different is going on! While the population of local-born natives is no longer reproducing at the levels needed to maintain the population, new immigration picks up. It accounts for a larger and larger share of births!
While the number of births in Britain is declining, the share of children born to parents who immigrated from outside Britain has hit a record high.
Almost one in three children born last year were delivered by mothers born outside of the UK. The number of births by women born outside the UK rose 3,600 year-on-year to account for 30.3pc of all births. The previous peak was 29.3pc in 2020.
When including the father, more than one in three children born last year had at least one foreign-born parent. In London, the figure was two thirds.
This development is inconsistent with wanting to reduce the populations of high-consumption countries. It seems self-defeating to celebrate birth reductions while simultaneously amping up the arrivals of new immigrants who work hard to live well, consume a lot, have many children, and realize the “British dream.”
Please do not interpret me pointing out the above inconsistency as my hostility towards immigrants: I immigrated to the United States, worked hard to have a good life, and am blessed with a beautiful family and two grown children. I am immensely thankful for the opportunity to live in this wonderful land of the free – and I am sure that most other immigrants want to live well and work hard, just as I did.
However, even though I am equally sympathetic towards immigrants, just as I am towards the natives, I cannot shake a feeling that Prof. Harper and the WEF have an inconsistency between stated goals and actions that I cannot explain easily.
This inconsistency is not something I can quite understand: new immigrants want to consume just as much as native residents. Why encourage immigration from poor countries to rich countries if the goal is a reduction of carbon and other emissions that would occur due to declines in the population of rich countries?
Help me understand this puzzle! Are we missing something? What do they really want? Voice your opinion in the comments, please.
This article was first published in Igor’s Newsletter