About fifteen hundred years ago Europe underwent a turbulent age which has been named the Migration Period. Yet the population movements then were more limited than those facing Europe today. In both speed and sheer numbers, the current migration waves are far greater than those we associate with the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire.
It is completely unrealistic to solve basic problems through the international migration of billions of people. Most social problems of countries in the global South must be resolved locally. There is simply no other option.
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The New Migration Period
Subjects related to legal or illegal mass immigration fill the news in virtually every Western country these days. Sometimes it can be useful to look at the big picture, not just individual news stories.
Demographers estimate that the world’s population will grow by well over 70 million people during the year 2015. Let us say that the global population will increase by 73 million people in 2015. This corresponds to a global population growth of more than 6 million people per month, around 1.4 million people per week, nearly 200,000 per day, more than 8327 per hour, almost 139 per minute and 2.3 per second. If you spend 30 seconds on fetching a cold drink in the fridge, the planet’s population will increase with about 69 people during this time. If you spend half an hour on eating lunch, there will be 4164 more people on Earth after your lunch break.
It sounds generous if somebody suggests that we should accept 8,000 asylum seekers from countries with many social problems. However, consider the fact that this is the equivalent of the planet’s population growth in less than an hour. That is roughly the amount of time many of us spend daily on commuting to work or school.
Statistically speaking, much of the population growth will be concentrated in low-income families and in societies with many social problems. Technologically advanced nations such as Germany and Japan have very low birth rates. In contrast, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, Gambia, Mauritania, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and the Philippines are experiencing a substantial population increase. Meanwhile, countries such as India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, the Philippines and Egypt have many malnourished children.
The Neolithic Revolution began gradually in several different regions, starting with the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East 10-12,000 years ago. Prior to this we were all hunter-gatherers. The global population at the onset of the Neolithic Revolution is uncertain. It has been estimated at perhaps 5 million, possibly 15 million people. The lower estimate is roughly equivalent to the current population of Norway. The higher estimate corresponds to today’s population of Norway plus Sweden. This was the total number of human beings living on all continents minus Antarctica: Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia plus North America and South America. A single major city the size of Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Karachi, Mexico City, Lagos, Mumbai or Cairo now has more residents than there were people living on this entire planet before we started practicing agriculture.
The very first groups that began practicing agriculture and kept livestock did not automatically enjoy improved health because of this. They may actually have developed new illnesses. However, by growing their own food, they could gradually increase their numbers. During the past ten thousand years, while farming spread across the world, the number of people rose significantly. It is believed that the world’s total human population for the first time reached one billion people around the year 1800, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It took all of the Earth’s peoples since the Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years to achieve this number. Since the Industrial Revolution, the global population has grown dramatically over the last two centuries. This trend still continues unabated, at least in many of the planet’s southern regions.
In the coming three decades, Africa’s population could increase by more than one billion people. A single continent can thus increase by a larger number of people in 30 years than it took all continents combined hundreds of thousands of years to achieve before the year 1800. This increase will take place on the planet’s least technologically developed continent. In a mere 4 to 11 weeks, the number of human beings currently grows by more than the number of people living on the entire planet 10,000 years ago. In the Stone Age, the means of transport were primitive, and travel limited. Now, we have modern means of transport such as railways, trucks, motorized boats and intercontinental flights. Combined with a global population explosion, this has created the largest and fastest migration waves the Earth has ever witnessed since our species first came into existence.
We do not know the exact population figures of the Roman Empire nearly two thousand years ago. Estimates vary from around 40 million people to over 100 million people. A relatively common estimate is that the total population of the Roman Empire was about 60-80 million people.
By comparison, in 2013 the world’s population grew by 75 million people annually. Various estimates suggest a global population growth of between 70 and 80 million for 2015. This means that the world’s population is now adding another Roman Empire every single year, maybe more. Most of this increase is concentrated in dysfunctional countries and regions.