by Dan Ehrlich
The world, now bulging with 8 billion people, is on the verge of a demographic time bomb being spawned by climate change, drought, wars, and poverty. The UN estimates there may be as many as 220 million migrants from the effects of climate change by 2050. Yet the subject of mass migration was not on the COP27 agenda.
Countless numbers of desperate people from hard-hit Third World nations are migrating to the European Union and North America. Where they are not going is Russia. The world’s largest single national land mass remains largely devoid of people.
There’s irony in Putin’s Ukraine war. If the dictator wasn’t so intent on pointlessly expanding Russia’s 11-time-zone border, his nation might have had a rosy future as the world’s new breadbasket, enabling it to exert commercial and political pressure on much of his adversaries who are, or will be, grappling with critical natural resource shortages.
As it now stands, Russia will remain a pariah rogue state for some time to come, feared but unloved in a state limbo.
But the case of Russia offers a prime example of the state of world migration, with most migrants heading to a few wealthy and densely populated nations.
The world may now be bursting with 8 billion people. But what Russia lacks is people. Its 145 million population is declining. The national birthrate is stagnant. The war has also created an exodus of Russians either against the war or fearful of it. To top this off the pandemic has killed as many as 500,000 there. The actual count is hard to calculate.
According to the most pessimistic scenarios, Russia estimates its population might drop by 12 million in the next 15 years. And even the most optimistic forecasts say that death rates will still exceed birth rates in 2035, although the gap might narrow significantly. So, Russia may depend on migrants to cover population losses no matter which scenario comes into play.
The US says more than a million Ukrainians have been forcibly taken to Russia. The fact is Putin needs people to populate the world’s largest nation. And kidnapping more than a million Ukrainians is a start.
But Russia’s low population density, only nine people per square kilometer, 199th place of 213 nations, is a blessing and a curse. The curse is not having enough workers to man any future growing consumer society, something that hasn’t been a priority for Putin’s 20-year reign. By comparison, St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest nation in the Americas, is ranked 64th in the world with 206 people per square kilometer, the US, ranked 161, has only 36 people, and the UK, ranked 43, has 278 people per square kilometer.
On the other hand, Russia’s blessing is not having the situation the West has with countless Third World immigrants flooding in and helping to use up finite natural resources, forcing nations to import basic goods from other countries…countries such as Russia.
Like it or not, there are limits on how many immigrants can be accepted by wealthy western nations at any one time before living standards in these countries are adversely impacted both economically and environmentally.
For example, in just nine months 0f 2022 42,000 undocumented immigrants crossed the English Channel for a safe harbor in the UK. And daily, even during bad weather, scores of migrants and asylum seekers attempt the dangerous channel crossing in small boats supplied by criminal gangs.
Look at the USA. Following World War 2 its population stood at 150 million. Living for most Americans was a comfortable middle-class experience. Public utilities, gas, and even food were dirt cheap. Yet, today the population is 338 million and climbing; now with a declining middle class and the biggest gap between wealthy and poor citizens in the developed world.
This is no longer just a matter of jobs for people. There’s plenty of work available in the US and UK for new arrivals.
If this past summer is a hint at the new normal, water shortages amid extreme heat waves along with power cuts will mean a comfortable life only for those who can afford it. And one world leader predicts a doomsday scenario if the First World doesn’t look after the Third World.
Rich countries must sign a “historic pact” with the poor on the climate, or “we will be doomed”, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has warned during the COP27 climate meet, as a deepening gulf between the developed and developing world has put climate talks on the brink.
Cop27 took place amid the worst geopolitical tensions for years, over the Ukraine war, a spiraling global cost of living crisis, and deepening economic gloom.
But the gulf must be bridged if humanity is to have a hope of avoiding the worst ravages of climate breakdown, Guterres said.
“There is no way we can avoid a catastrophic situation if the two [the developed and developing world] are not able to establish a historic pact,” he told the Guardian in an interview on the eve of the summit. “Because at the present level, we will be doomed.”
With environmental and climate issues now center stage, the world population is also a key issue. Yet COP27 didn’t address world population growth and immigration.
Russia’s small population gives it an environmental edge. By land area vs. its population and richness of terrain, Russia has more available natural resources than most western nations. This could be one of its aces for decades to come.
America used to be the world’s breadbasket…Its vast agricultural lands produced food for itself and the world. But, rapid growth has led to uncontrolled urbanization in some areas, which has produced overcrowding, destitution, crime, pollution, and political turmoil. Rapid growth has outstripped increases in food production, and population pressure has led to the overuse of arable land and its destruction.
Asked whether or not the growing world population will be a major problem, 59% of Americans agreed it will strain the planet’s natural resources, while 82% of U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the same. Just 17% of AAAS scientists and 38% of Americans said population growth won’t be a problem because we will find a way to stretch natural resources.
The very real fact of life is having unlimited multitudes of people migrating to areas of finite resources will only create more human sorrow ending in hostility.
Migrants need to go where there is plenty of room, a growing economy and a need for people. No, it’s not just the USA. It’s Canada with only 4 people per sq.k., Australia (3 people per sq. k.), and Russia (9 people per sq.k).
Russia’s land mass is almost as large as all of North America. But its manpower shortage means it hasn’t been too difficult to convince Putin to open its borders to immigrants from areas other than former Soviet republics, from where most of Russia’s recent migrants have originated.
In April 2020, Putin signed a dual-citizenship law that estimates suggest will attract up to 10 million new citizens. Why? Putin has made reversing Russia’s demographic crisis a major priority.
Canada has been more welcoming to immigrants than the US. Its low population density along with a First World economy makes it a good landing pad for immigrants. Under its Immigration Levels Plan, Canada is now looking to welcome over 460,000 new immigrants each year, which is the highest level in its history.
Canada’s immigration goals are to strengthen the economy, reunite families, and help refugees.
But for most immigrants the difficult part is getting to Canada, having to traverse the US from being stuck at the Mexican border.
U.S. immigration law is based on the following principles:
The reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity.
Amid a record number of 2 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022, President Joe Biden reinstated in December 2021 a Trump-era policy that requires those who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border and seek asylum to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed.
Biden had earlier ended the Migration Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy, and then restarted it after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lawsuit by Texas and Missouri that challenged the program’s closure. Asylum seekers do not receive legal status that allows them to live and work in the U.S. until the claim is approved.
Overall, more than 40 million lawful immigrants live in the U.S.; most are American citizens.
Australia is raising its cap on permanent migration for the first time in a decade to help fill massive workforce shortages.
It will take up to 195,000 people this financial year – an increase of 35,000.
The pandemic and Australia’s tough border policies have exacerbated staffing gaps in many sectors.
Workers from countries including China, India, and the UK – Australia’s top sources of migration – are needed to fill them, the government says.
There are more than 480,000 job vacancies across the country, but with unemployment at an almost 50-year low, employers are struggling to fill the gaps.
However, this still doesn’t solve the problem of too many migrants or asylum seekers pouring into a particular country, when they might be needed and more welcome at other nations.
In past generations, New York’s Ellis Island was the main immigration portal for America, not today’s chaotic Mexican border. The idea of leapfrogging any number of countries to get the US or the UK wasn’t the norm as it seems today. Asylum seekers are supposed to seek refuge is the first safe nation that will have them. It has become obvious that many so-called asylum seekers are really just economic migrants seeking a better life in a particular country.
Order needs to be restored from this international chaos because mass migration of people will only increase as the world population increases and natural resources decrease.
One idea is for the United Nations to create immigration centers around the world where migrants, both economic and asylum seekers, would be gathered together in temporary refuges until they could be placed in countries that wanted or needed them. This hopefully would curtail having only a select few destinations where most migrants attempt to enter.
These centers would operate similarly to employment agencies, offering immigrants placement in countries where they can earn a living and have a safe haven. Yet this is only one idea. It doesn’t tackle the root causes of migration….climate-related drought, famine, and poverty; as well as lawless gang-controlled countries where innocent people are forced to seek better and safer lives elsewhere.
WORLD POPULATION DENSITIES
Density per sq. kilometer
|4||Hong Kong||7,060||7,488,865||1,104 km²|
|10||Sint Maarten||1,260||44,175||34 km²|
|13||Saint Martin||785||31,791||53 km²|
|18||San Marino||567||33,660||61 km²|
|21||South Korea||531||51,815,810||100,210 km²|
|31||Puerto Rico||368||3,252,407||8,870 km²|
|32||Sri Lanka||358||21,832,143||65,610 km²|
|36||Marshall Islands||331||41,569||181 km²|
|38||El Salvador||315||6,336,392||21,041 km²|
|40||Saint Lucia||302||179,857||616 km²|
|42||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||285||103,948||389 km²|
|43||United Kingdom||278||67,508,936||242,900 km²|
|44||Cayman Islands||277||68,706||264 km²|
|45||American Samoa||276||44,273||199 km²|
|47||Trinidad and Tobago||274||1,531,044||5,130 km²|
|55||Sao Tome and Principe||233||227,380||964 km²|
|57||Dominican Republic||227||11,228,821||48,671 km²|
|58||Antigua and Barbuda||224||93,763||442 km²|
|61||North Korea||215||26,069,416||120,538 km²|
|64||Saint Kitts and Nevis||206||47,657||261 km²|
|65||British Virgin Islands||203||31,305||151 km²|
|73||Isle of Man||150||84,519||572 km²|
|77||United Arab Emirates||141||9,441,129||83,600 km²|
|79||Czech Republic||139||10,493,986||78,865 km²|
|82||Northern Mariana Islands||126||49,551||464 km²|
|87||Sierra Leone||113||8,605,718||71,740 km²|
|100||Costa Rica||101||5,180,829||51,100 km²|
|110||Timor Leste||90||1,341,296||14,874 km²|
|112||Ivory Coast||85||28,160,542||322,463 km²|
|118||North Macedonia||82||2,093,599||25,713 km²|
|119||French Polynesia||80||306,279||4,167 km²|
|121||Burkina Faso||79||22,673,762||272,967 km²|
|127||Guinea Bissau||72||2,105,566||36,125 km²|
|137||Bosnia and Herzegovina||64||3,233,526||51,209 km²|
|146||Equatorial Guinea||52||1,674,908||28,051 km²|
|147||South Africa||49||59,893,885||1,221,037 km²|
|155||DR Congo||41||99,010,212||2,344,858 km²|
|157||Turks and Caicos Islands||41||45,703||948 km²|
|161||United States||36||338,289,857||9,372,610 km²|
|164||Faroe Islands||35||53,090||1,393 km²|
|177||Solomon Islands||25||724,273||28,896 km²|
|180||Papua New Guinea||20||10,142,619||462,840 km²|
|184||New Zealand||19||5,185,288||270,467 km²|
|185||South Sudan||18||10,913,164||619,745 km²|
|191||Republic of the Congo||17||5,970,424||342,000 km²|
|193||Saudi Arabia||16||36,408,820||2,149,690 km²|
|195||New Caledonia||15||289,950||18,575 km²|
|201||Central African Republic||8||5,579,144||622,984 km²|