Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Population Doom in Europe

It's not news, but this is a take I've not heard before: What's it mean for the environment and the landscape that makes Europe so postcard perfect? A fascinating article answers:
Such numbers are a harbinger of the future. Home to 22 of the world's 25 lowest-birthrate countries, Europe will lose 41 million people by 2030 even with continued immigration, according to the latest U.N. Population Division report. The biggest decline will hit rural Europe. As Italians, Spaniards, Germans and others produce barely half the children needed to maintain the status quo—and rural flight continues to suck people into Europe's suburbs and cities—the countryside will lose close to a third of its population, say both the United Nations and the EU. "It's a triple time bomb," says University of Lisbon demographer Nuno da Costa. "Too few children, too many old people and too many of the remaining young people still leaving the village."

The implications of this transformation touch on everything from tourism to retirement locales to government conservation and agricultural policies. Our postcard view of Europe, after all, is of a continent where every scrap of land has long been farmed, fenced off and settled, where every tree has been measured, counted and named. But the continent of the future may look rather different. "Big parts of Europe will renaturalize," says Reiner Klingholz, head of the Berlin Institute for Population Development. Bears are back in Austria. In Swiss alpine valleys, farms have been receding and forests are growing back in. In parts of France and Germany, wildcats and ospreys have re-established their range.

So how's Europe to halt the population drain? Whether it wants to or not, it may end up importing Arabs. States George Weigel: “Demographic vacuums do not remain unfilled - especially when the demographic vacuum in question is a continent possessed of immense economic resources.” How's the name Eurabia strike you?

More at the Corner (click here and scroll down).