Europe's demographic crisis

Chuck Colson
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Posted: Jul 11, 2005 12:00 AM

In a well-known urban legend, college students simultaneously flush all the toilets on campus and break down the town’s sewage system. While this story about overtaxing a sanitation system may be a myth, real-world Germans have learned what happens when you don’t tax the system enough. It’s a vivid example of the damage caused by the “birth dearth.”

The “birth dearth” is what demographers call plummeting birth rates in most of the industrialized world. Throughout Western Europe and East Asia, the birth rate is well below 2.1 births per woman—which is the minimum needed to maintain a stable population.

Environmentalist dogma argues that plummeting birth rates are a good thing: People cause pollution, we’re told. Well, officials in countries like Japan, Korea, and Germany now know better. In these and other so-called “advanced” societies, shrinking populations threaten their way of life and their cultural identity.

In Japan, for example, a birth rate that is barely half of “replacement level” has forced the closure of more than two thousand schools in the past ten years, with hundreds more closures to come. It’s left the government wondering who will support Japan’s aging population. These and other concerns, like the possible extinction of the Japanese people, have prompted older Japanese to call their childless children “parasite singles.”

In Germany, the population of some villages has shrunk so much that “there are now too few people flushing for the sewage to properly flow.” As a result, the government has had to spend scarce resources on retrofitting sewage systems.

Elsewhere in Germany and the rest of Europe, the emptying landscape provides an opening for an unlikely immigrant: the wolf. German biologists expect the growing packs to head soon toward Berlin.

Now, wolves in Berlin sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s a science fact. What’s incredible is the response of the average European or East Asian. They literally shrug their shoulders; they can’t imagine changing their lifestyle to accommodate having two or more children instead of one or none. They believe against all evidence in a technological or political solution to this problem.

But, as columnist Mark Steyn writes, “there’s simply no precedent for managed decline in societies as advanced as Europe’s”—or Japan, for that matter. Throughout history, societies in demographic decline, usually as a result of disease, have faced two unattractive options: a decline in their standard of living or the replacement of their native population with a more fertile immigrant one.

Europe has, essentially by default, chosen the latter. But as last week’s bombings in London illustrate, turning millions of Islamic immigrants into “Europeans,” however you define the term, is a dubious proposition. And in Japan, where racial purity is a primary cultural value, the population faces eventual extinction.

It’s hard to imagine a better example of the importance of worldviews, and specifically in this case, the Christian one. Steyn is right when he says that Europe’s decline is directly linked to its hostility towards Christianity. Its rejection of what Christianity teaches about the family has made the continent safe for another kind of family: four-legged ones who howl at the moon.


For further reading and information:

Today’s BreakPoint offer: The “Caring for Creation” CD addresses the pressing environmental concerns today, like population, global warming, and “sustainable development,” and what Christians should do to care for creation, and what the law should address regarding the environment.

Mark Steyn, “My virility doesn’t matter—the EU’s does,” Telegraph ( London), 28 June 2005 .

Stefan Theil, “Into the Woods,” Newsweek, 4 July 2005 .

Robert S. Leiken, “Europe’s Angry Muslims,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005.

Michael Meyer, “Birth Dearth,” Newsweek, 27 September 2004 .

BreakPoint Commentary No. 050314, “Toys without Children: Demographic Suicide.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 040126, “Fatal Visions: How a Bad Worldview Can Make You What’s for Dinner.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 050414, “Unheard Voices: Environmental Responsibility and Human Well-Being.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 050627, “Double Dutch: Evolution in Dutch Schools.” (This commentary addresses the “tolerance” extended to Muslims in Europe.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 041117, “The Threat at Home: Europe and Radical Islam.”

See BreakPoint’s research page on the environment.