The Demographic Transition
The transition from high birth and death rates in pre-industrial societies to low birth and death rates in industrial societies is well known to demographers and we think we understand why that transition occurred. In pre-industrial societies infant death rates are very high because of lack of basic sanitation and primary health care. People adjusted to these very high death rates by maintaining very high birth rates. Knowledge of the germ theory of disease and relatively simple public health measures resulted in a rapid and sharp decline in infant mortality; later, antibiotics and other modern medicines further reduced infant and maternal mortality. People adjusted to these lower infant and maternal mortality rates—usually after a ‘new rich’ one or two generation population boom—by reducing their birth rates.
The birth rate reduction occurred in all societies undergoing modernization, including those where birth control and access to abortion was readily available and those without those easy options. It occurred in both Catholic and Protestant communities, and in most communities with other religions. Demographers could not conclude that either government promoted access or restrictions on birth control/abortion or religious values substantially caused or hindered that transition.
It is possible that public policies favoring lower fertility shortened ‘baby boom’ periods in some countries. Draconian measures taken in China to enforce the ‘one-child policy’ did result in a significant acceleration in the already underway fertility decline. In most countries birth rates declined with or without government encouragement. Likewise, government efforts to increase fertility in pre-WWII Germany and in Europe generally after about 1980 appear to have been in vain, and there is no evidence that current efforts in that regard will be any more successful.
The most plausible theory explaining the demographic transition comes from the biological sciences. Very high infant mortality among animals (such as smaller mammals) is associated with very large numbers of offspring and relatively little investment on the part of the parents in each. Animals that produce offspring with a good chance of survival, such as larger mammals, produce fewer young and make a much larger investment in each one. In pre-industrial human communities, very little investment is required to produce and raise an additional child. There is no doctor bill because there is no doctor; there is no cost for shoes, store-bought clothing, education, etc., because there are no shoes, store-bought clothing, education, etc. An additional handful of beans in the pot is disregarded; a handful of beans has almost no value even to very poor people, and in hard times everyone starves. Moreover, a child in a poor family becomes productive very quickly; at age 10 youngsters can tend the sheep or shine shoes in the city, earning many times more than their cost. Obviously, a family with many children is better off than one with few children.
In industrial and post-industrial societies the cost of an additional infant is very substantial. There will be doctor bills, shoes and clothing, and education, and the economic return on a child is essentially zero. The rational response to a very substantial investment cost for offspring is obvious—have fewer children so that you can increase the investment in each one. It really doesn’t matter what the government or church says; rational people tend to act rationally.
The demographic transition does not violate evolutionary theory. The most fundamental law of evolution is reproduction. If you fail to pass your genes and culture to a new generation you will cease to exist. But, having two children who are well cared for and educated is not failure to reproduce. Indeed, two or three well cared for and educated children are the best way to assure the survival of your genes and culture. The demographic transition is a rational response to a changed circumstance in the human condition.
Current European Population Decline
The birthrate in many countries in both Western and Eastern Europe have now declined to levels well below—approaching one-half of—replacement level fertility. The failure to produce a new generation to provide continuity for ones genes and culture violates the most fundamental principle of evolution. Indeed, it may mark the first time in the history of life on earth a substantial number of a species has voluntarily declined to transmit its genes to a new generation. Children are the life of life; without children there is only death! What could possess a society to willingly commit mass suicide?
Current birthrates among native-born Spanish, French, Italian, and English are about half the number required for the survival of their genes and culture. These same societies have promoted the immigration of persons who do not share their genes and culture in order to fill the jobs required to sustain their economy, their pensions, and their health care system. The native-born in those societies are well aware of the fact that their immigrant workers are having children who will very soon outnumber their own offspring. They are also well aware of the consequences, but appear to be in denial. Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury stated the obvious fact that Sharia Law in Britain is inevitable; his statement was greeted with public and media outrage, but no one challenged that fact. Sharia Law is already in place in many communities in England, and those communities, in contrast to other British communities, are growing rapidly. Could they think that by not saying it, it will not be true? Politically correct speech may sound nice, but who would believe that will alter the truth? Currently one-third of grammar school children in Germany were born to immigrants, mostly Turkish Islamic immigrants. Does someone suppose it will not be fifty percent in a decade or so, and seventy-five percent a couple of decades later?
One might suppose that cradle-to-the-grave socialism and the 35-hour workweek have lulled Europeans into a self-centered sleep. Just give me mine, and when I’m gone it doesn’t matter. But no! Younger Europeans know they are not likely to get ‘theirs’! The young European people of Britain, France, and Spain must be aware of the fact that when Islamic population emerges as a majority of the youth and working age, they will not be tolerant or kind to the older European generation that, having no children to support them, hopes to continue to collect their government pensions and free medical care. Indeed, one would have to be a complete fool to believe an Islamic population would provide welfare and medical care to an elderly generation that imported them as cheap labor. The proposal by a Bishop of the Church of England that they should substitute the name Allah for God, would be comical if it were not so obviously desperate. Those with resources will certainly hope to emigrate to the US, or Canada, or Australia. But, what country would allow immigration of tens of millions of destitute elderly persons? How can people face certain catastrophe and ignore it?
What could possibly explain why a population of living beings does not wish to transmit its genes and culture into the next generation, knowing full well the dire consequences even for themselves? To rephrase the question: What could explain mass suicide?
I have a theory. It is only a theory, but to my knowledge it will be the first attempt to explain the extraordinary events taking place in Europe, and explain similar events transpiring in the U.S. I propose this theory knowing that I cannot prove it, and knowing that it will be considered politically incorrect—indeed disgusting and perhaps offensive—to most of my colleagues and many other readers. Yet, I believe it must be stated out loud, even though the vast majority of my fellows would prefer it to be unsaid. If for no other reason, stating this theory clearly may prompt adherents to examine their motives for what must otherwise be considered mass irrational behavior.
The Green Religion
Mass suicide is deviant behavior, but there is precedent. Mass suicide has occurred occasionally throughout history. In all cases that I know about that sort of behavior has been associated with religious faith. Remember the poison cool-aid in Jonestown, Guyana? What prompted women to poison their own children and kill themselves? Remember Waco Texas? How about Massada; what prompted those Jews surrounded by the Roman Army to commit mass suicide? What prompts Islamic people to celebrate the suicide (and murderous acts) of their own children today in the Middle East? There must be some faith-based belief to justify those acts; irrational behavior is okay if it is faith based. People are prepared and sometimes eager to do all manner of things for their God—including wrapping an explosive vest about themselves and committing unspeakable murder of innocent persons, including children.
Yes it must be religious faith! But what is this faith all those post-Christian Europeans (and many American followers) believe with such fervor? I suggest that the Green Revolution has been transformed into a faith-based religion—a religion that justifies, indeed encourages, human suicide!
Let’s examine the extreme environmental movement or Green Religion. Are adherents environmental scientists? Some do indeed have advanced degrees and teach at Universities. But, what they teach is not science. The rules of science are quite explicit; a scientist must accept the result of an unbiased evaluation of the facts. Consider the recent ‘endangered polar bears’ issue. People of science know that prior to the Little Ice Age (1450 to 1850) the earth, or at least the northern hemisphere, was much warmer than it is today, and warmer than global warming enthusiasts project over the coming century. After all, Vikings were growing wheat in areas in Greenland that are currently covered with iron-hard permafrost six feet deep. Does someone suppose the polar bears evolved after 1450? If not, how did they survive 10,000 years from the end of the Main Wisconsin Glacial to the Little Ice Age? But the Green Religion people have no interest in facts. Their beliefs are based on faith; they don’t need facts. The Green Religion adherents also know their enemy: It is human beings, and especially those humans who live in industrial societies!
According to the Green Religion, all lifeforms on this earth except one are ‘natural’. Humans are the unnatural exception. All elements and compounds are ‘natural’ except those compounds that are man-made. Man-made compounds are not ‘natural’ (including those which are chemically identical to ‘natural’ compounds). We must have special rules for man-made compounds. For example, the EPA is allowed (by congress) to use massive dosage experiments on lab animals to determine whether a compound is carcinogenic—but only in the case of man-made compounds. Thus far more than 800 man-made compounds have been tested and all but about a half-dozen did indeed produce tumors in lab animals.
Apparently man-made compounds are not only unnatural (ever met a chemist that would agree with that?), but are also carcinogenic. The author of the ‘massive dosage’ testing method has disavowed it on grounds that everything appears to be toxic and carcinogenic in massive dosages. Indeed, if we used the massive dosage test for ‘natural’ compounds they would also prove to be toxic or carcinogenic. But, never mind, those compounds are ‘natural’, so it is okay to consume them!
How does it come to pass that humans are unnatural? Are we not a part of the evolutionary process? Perhaps God placed humans on this earth as evil creatures, quite apart from the evolutionary processes that produced other liveforms. You don’t ‘believe in’ God? Well perhaps humans developed an evil desire to destroy all living organisms (including themselves) and destroy the natural beauty of the world as well.
When the oil crisis produced by the Oil Cartel struck in the 1970’s I recall the jubilation of an environmentalist colleague. He was so happy that his dire predictions were at last coming true. But John, you know the oil crisis is caused by the OPEC cartel. No, we are running out of oil; even the Shah of Iran says so. But John, you know the Shah of Iran has good reasons to cover his butt on this issue. No, we are running out of fossil fuels just as I have been telling you; now humans will pay the price for destroying nature. But John, you are a human too; why are you so happy to announce the demise of humanity? Humans destroy nature! It must stop!
The oil crisis produced by the Oil Cartel was rather short-lived; among other things it put Mexico and the UK, among others, in the oil business. But we now have another oil crisis, and I’m sure John is happy again. Hurricane Katrina was another bright spot in his life, proving as it did that global warming (caused by unnatural humans) was increasing the temperature of the Gulf, which would produce an increasing number of class-five hurricanes from now on. How disappointing that in the following years there have been fewer than normal hurricanes. But never mind, there will be other disasters John can celebrate.
If humans are the enemy of the environment (of Creation or God for that few who allow for God) then having children is a terrible sin! Saint Paul Ehrlich (of Population Bomb fame) announced early on that he had a vasectomy so that he would not contribute to the overpopulation curse. Paul Ehrlich was wrong in every prediction he made in his book—any demographer, economists, or indeed any person with a modicum of common sense would have dismissed Ehrlich’s ideas with a wave of their hand—but that does not diminish his status as a Saint in the Green Religion.
Notice that the Green Religious faith is held primarily by individuals who are financially well endowed and/or beneficiaries of cradle-to-the-grave socialism. The desire to have children that will provide support in old age is seemingly eliminated. The connection between sexual pleasure and children is broken by contraception and legal abortion (which Green Religion adherents champion). The Darwinian drive to pass one genes into the next generation and the holy command to ‘go forth and multiply’ is trumped by the belief that humans are the curse that defiles the otherwise beautiful natural world.
But you say, the Green Religion folks are good people; how can altruistic acts by good people produce bad consequences? Yes, most religious persons are ‘good people’ by definition and their motives are admirable; after all, they are dedicated to, and willing to sacrifice for, a cause they believe is greater than themselves. But, actions taken in the name of religion are often irrational and produce terrible consequences. Let’s state it clearly: Religion is perhaps the highest calling in human endeavor and because that is true, it also has the greatest potential for evil when it is misused! No! I don’t believe the environmentalists are evil people. I know many of them well and consider them to be among the finest people I have ever known. I simply think they are dead wrong and their actions will produce terrible consequences!
The Incredible Mistake of Non-Reproduction
For me to be living on this earth, some 10,000 human couples had to get together over the past 250,000 years, have sex, and raise a child that survived. That was no easy task. The vast majority of humans (and all other individual plants and animals) succeeded in transmitting their genes to no more that a few generations into the future at best. The great enigma of life is that each of us can trace our ancestry back for several generations, and if we had the data could trace it back to Stone Age times, and indeed to our pre-human ancestors. Yet, we are by definition the survivors. The vast majority of the people who lived on this earth did not succeed in passing their genes through to future generations. Ever notice that no one seems to be able to include George Washington or Napoleon in his or her own ancestry? The odds are stacked heavily against passing your genes more than a few generations into the future. It is sort of like the lottery; the odds that you will win is essentially zero, but the odds that someone will win (assuming a large number of us play the game) is one hundred percent! Let’s state this clearly: In order for one person to win the lottery a very large number of people must play the game; Europeans are no longer playing the game of life so there will be no winners among their genes and culture.
For every generation there is a sieve at work allowing only select genes to pass through to the next generation. When people crossed the Sahara desert on the way north, those who could not tolerate the heat and lack of water did not arrive at the Mediterranean Sea. During the Pleistocene Ice Age persons who could not tolerate the cold did not pass their genes through that sieve. When the Black Death, and hundreds of other plagues struck, many and sometimes most people died taking their genes to the grave. When Europeans and Africans migrated to America many succumbed to disease and hardship; we Americans carry only the genes of those who passed that test. When the pioneers trekked west by covered wagon there were lots of men and women who could not stand the test; their genes are no longer with us.
It is quite amazing when you think about it. We are the survivors! In my ancestry there was not a single woman so ugly that no man would have sex with her (which explains the Darwinian drive toward female beauty). There was not a single man so homosexual that he could not have sex with a woman (which should prove extreme homosexualism is produced by behavior rather than inherited genes). There was not a single woman who could not endure the pain of childbirth and sacrifice twelve to fifteen years of her life insuring that her child reached adulthood—and not one who thought her career was too important to have children. Indeed, there have been 10,000 men and 10,000 women who have come together and given much of themselves to make it possible for me to be alive. And, my story is repeated in each of the six billion human beings on this earth.
Our genes survived the Sahara Desert and the Ice Age, survived the plagues and the crossing of the Atlantic on a flimsy square-rigger, the trek west by covered wagon, and thousands of trials and tribulations we cannot even conceive. Will they now succumb to ‘women’s lib’, the ‘stress of modern life’, and the Green Religion? One day I will face those 10,000 men and women who suffered and sacrificed so that I could live on this earth. If I break the chain of reproduction and carry my genes to my grave, how will I explain that to the 10,000 couples who made it possible for me to live on this earth? There was a great deal of stress in my life. What do you know about stress? I was concerned about my career. Your career meant nothing! I felt it was my duty to not have children that would contribute to the destruction of the earth. You stupid fool! Were you unable to look around and see that reproduction is the most fundamental rule of life for all plants and animals?
So Who Cares?
I DO! Europeans have been the most innovative, productive, and creative people to live on this earth for the past five hundred years. Where would the Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans be without them? Without Europeans there would be no industrial development, no science, no democracy, and no world with the vast majority of humans living a long and comfortable life.
It is worth noting that Europeans have been far better stewards of the environment than any other group of people over the past 500 years. Name one environmental initiative that has come from Africa, Asia, or Latin America! When we Europeans voluntarily check out (to save the environment) who will be left to concern themselves with pollution, the rain forests, the Great Barrier Reef, etc? Perhaps the Africans will stop murdering each other and begin to concern themselves with the environment. Perhaps the Islamic people will become more concerned with preservation of nature than with ridding the world of infidels. Perhaps the Latin Americans will take up the notion that saving a rainforest is more important then providing for their own survival and well-being. How could a rational person hold this view as other than a faith-based belief?