Signs of Population Along the Road
The immediacy of the situations in Libya and Japan seems to have driven most other news off of the front pages and at least temporarily out of our consciousness.
Nevertheless, many other things are occurring it the world today other than the shifting fortunes of the existing powerful like Gaddafi and of those seeking the spoils of power themselves or the heroism of the workers at the damaged Japanese nuclear plant and the cupidity of their management. Both crises can be viewed as products of a longer term trend. We are approaching the perfect political and sociological storm caused by the undeniable impact of climate change, the continued explosive growth of population, globalization and urbanization added to the exhaustion of energy and other resources like drinking water.
Among the gathering forces of chaos both driving and being driven by this trend is the demographic shift in available workers for future production. This shift throws all long-term economic and political prognostication into turmoil.
It has been estimated in some business journals that only sub-Saharan Africa stands to see an appreciable growth in youth manpower. In fact, the sub-Sahara will account for over 100% of total growth in the world‘s 15-29 population, because many regions will find their pools of young manpower shrinking over the next two decades. Japan and Europe as a whole are both on course for significant absolute declines in this key manpower pool over the next 20 years (prospective drops of almost 25%). But by far the most massive falloff in young manpower is set to take place in China. Over the next 20 years, by the Census Bureau‘s projections, this key working age group will be falling in China by fully 100 million persons—or over 30 percent.
In 2008 some two hundred million people — 3% of the world’s population — were living outside their native land. In most first world countries the population of foreign-born was over 10%.
The most ironic fact of all this is that in all likelihood the future lies in the North Central US, Canada and Siberia. Those underemployed working age people will flock to the agricultural and natural resource jobs made available by warming and diminishing resources elsewhere (think fresh water and wind energy. Yes, tar sands and even peat also). The already minuscule population bases of these areas, 6 million in Siberia and 35 million in Canada, that currently comprises about .05% of the world’s population on about 15-20% of its land area) will be overwhelmed by these new immigrants, irrevocably altering those societies.