“… animals prowl in our abandoned ‘ghost villages'” The Guardian


"For many years it seemed that overpopulation was the looming crisis of our age. Back in 1968, the Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich infamously predicted that millions would soon starve to death in their bestselling, doom-saying book The Population Bomb; since then, neo-Malthusian rumblings of imminent disaster have been a continual refrain in certain sections of the environmental movement – fears that were recently given voice on David Attenborough’s documentary Life on our Planet.

At the time the Ehrlichs were publishing their dark prophecies, the world was at its peak of population growth, which at that point was increasing at a rate of 2.1% a year. Since then, the global population has ballooned from 3.5 billion to 7.67 billion.

But growth has slowed – and considerably. As women’s empowerment advances, and access to contraception improves, birthrates around the world are stuttering and stalling, and in many countries now there are fewer than 2.1 children per woman – the minimum level required to maintain a stable population.

Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations – notably in Japan and Germany – for some time. In South Korea last year, birthrates fell to 0.84 per woman, a record low despite extensive government efforts to promote childbearing. From next year, cash bonuses of 2m won (£1,320) will be paid to every couple expecting a child, on top of existing child benefit payments.

The fertility rate is also falling dramatically in England and Wales – from 1.9 children per woman in 2012 to just 1.65 in 2019. Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics for 2020 suggest it could now be 1.6, which would be the lowest rate since before the second world war. The problem is even more severe in Scotland, where the rate has fallen from 1.67 in 2012 to 1.37 in 2019." 

The Guardian


New York City looks like a ghost town.  COVID-19 and the machinations of state and city government have accelerated the already present influences of declining birth rates brought on by the empowerment of women and their understandable desire to have fewer children in order to live better lives.  And then, the severe limitation placed by the Trump Tax Law on deductibility of state and local taxes has caused a flight from high priced real estate markets and high local taxes.

I am a bit surprised to learn that the pressures on US population are so universally felt across the world. 

People no longer compete so strongly for space with the fauna.  You can see the effects here in Alexandria, Virginia where wildlife sightings are steadily increasing in the heart of this metropolitan area.  Deer, foxes, opossum, bird predators, coyotes and of course raccoons are caught every night on the camera records of my motion activated security system.  The raccoons climb the drain pipes leading to my roof, walk to the front of the house and sit observing traffic on this street in the heart of the city.

As someone who spent much of his life in the natural world on several continents, I confess to enjoying their company.  pl 


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18 Responses to “… animals prowl in our abandoned ‘ghost villages'” The Guardian

  1. Fred says:

    “Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations…”
    The alarmist experts are always telling us we need more people, yet at the same time not our own people, who have this wonderful increase in standard of living – “world’s wealthiest nations” – by not having children. Do these folks not even keep track of what they write, or how wrong they’ve been for at least a couple of generations?

  2. BillWade says:

    The birth rate in the US is declining but the population is increasing year over year(immigration). We don’t have more wildlife because the population is decreasing. So, why do we have more animals now? I think it’s due to our being better about our waterways.

  3. Oilman2 says:

    I have two homes – one on 40 acres with no major towns for 50 miles in any direction, an the other in a metropolis.
    My sightings of possums, coons, squirrels and coyotes have ticked up appreciably. No more leaving the trash cans without snapping the lids down – they will make quite the mess if I forget.
    My thinking is that travel and outdoor activities have been curtailed with the scamdemic – and thus animals that exist easily at the edge of civilization are becoming less fearful, because they are not seeing humans as often. Also, we have seasonal occupants in the suburbs – people who have second homes here and reside in other countries for part of the year. With the Covid mess, these homes have largely remained empty, with their lawn service people just cropping and mowing the empty homes. That means more habitat within the burbs too.
    At my farm, everything is the same as it has been, except we seem to have had a flood of deer. Carcasses are way up on the roads from the last few years, and this year there seem to be more hog carcasses than previous years. I am thinking less travel due to the Covid scare.
    My son is a park ranger – they were largely shut down for 2020, and their wildlife counts are expected to jump. They recently did a controlled burn in his park, and he told me the number of deer, hogs, coons and even bobcats rushing out the open end of their burn zone was unusual.
    I am thinking you may be right!

  4. Has there been any time since, say, 1960 that we haven’t been being bombarded with messages that we are doomed? Overpopulation, global cooling, acid rain, ozone layer, global warming. And I’ve probably forgotten half of them.

  5. Valissa says:

    This book came out in 2013 and explains the resurgence of wildlife and the unintended consequences. I really enjoyed it.
    Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds, by Jim Sterba https://www.amazon.com/Nature-Wars-Incredible-Comebacks-Battlegrounds/dp/0307341976/

  6. Diana L Croissant says:

    Before I moved back to my hometown, I lived in a planned community which touted the fact that it was situated in a city known for its open spaces. I could easily cross a nearby street to get to one of these spaces. It was great for taking my large dogs out for walks. We knew which part of the space had a coyote den and could often catch sight of them. They would look at us warily as we returned the same look. Wild rabbits were everywhere one year as the coyotes had developed mange and the wildlife service had to get that under control. Other small animals such as squirrels and other such small creatures could be ibserved. It was a very pleasant place to live.
    However, my lack of concern about his seeming population fizzle, rather than explosion, comes from my generation’s fears and that amounted to nothing.
    One of the most popular doomsday novels at the time was Soylent Green. The title referred to the “food” people in the novel had to eat. It was made from the processed bodies of people who had died–no more burials for lack of room and no room for growing food.
    It was largely also written probably because of the raging arguments about birth control at the time.
    Maybe it’s my now advancing age or simply that I’ve become tired of trying to predict the future. As a good Christian, I’ve decided to leave this problem in God’s capable hands.

  7. Jul 15, 2020 — The world’s population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and decline to 8.8 billion by the end of the century, according to research led by the University of … 75. Germany. 66.4m. Japan. 59.7m. 50. Italy. 25. South Korea. Spain … UK. Australia. 0. Israel. New Zealand. 2017. 2100. The population of Japan is …
    World population in 2100 could be 2 billion below UN …theguardian.com › world › jul › world-population-in-2..

  8. Rick Merlotti says:

    Malthusians have been wrong about everything since the Parson took his first breath. Humans and nature are very resilient and adaptive. Yet this anti-human ideology is taught to our children and accepted (pushed) by our elites. Why do you think that is?

  9. jerseycityjoan says:

    We need to stabilize and then reduce the world’s population. We have gone from 2 billion to over 7 billion in less than 100 years.
    The Guardian article did not capture the agony that will occur as Arab and Black Africa’s populations continues to rise for decades as so many of their families continue to have many children. Almost all of the world’s several billion people population increase will happen there. They can’t make enough to live now; what will they do when there’s so many more of them? God knows we and Europe don’t want millions of uneducated Africans.
    It also did not discuss the transition the world will have to make to economic planning as continued growth in people and GDP will no longer occur.
    Due to immigration our own population is supposed to keep rising and rising. This is already pushing up real estate prices in less populated areas in which wages are lower and employers are resistant to raising them. I myself am frankly terrified of being priced out by economic and gentrification “refugees” from New York and Philadelphia coming to my area.
    There is no discussion about how all these changes and their effects will be handled. There should be — many discussions.
    I am sorry to ask but don’t you think you are seeing more animals because of displacement in rural areas vs. a reduced human population in Virginia? I see that the state’s population has gone up 380,000 since the 2010 population.

  10. From “Mowgli’s Song Against People” by Kipling:
    In the gates of these your councils my people shall sing.
    In the doors of these your garners the Bat-folk shall cling;
    And the snake shall be your watchman,
    By a hearthstone unswept;
    For the Karela, the bitter Karela,
    Shall fruit where ye slept!
    The lack of people out and about, including in our parks, definitely contributes to wildlife encroachment, but I think decades of conservation efforts like eliminating DDT and water pollution has more to do with increased wildlife.
    I don’t have a wildlife camera, but I often see vast numbers of all manner of birds in the area along with squirrels, rabbits and deer. I’ve see five different box turtles in the yard for the last few years. Even caught them in flagrante delicto. The six banded racers were the first wild things to become resident in the yard. Reminds me of the many geckos in my townhouse in Hawaii. I treed a possum one night last Spring. He looked embarrassed that I caught him. However, I miss the the song of Spring peepers.A couple of years ago we had a late hard freeze and they were no more. Maybe this year.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Are you denying the reality of the present population decline numbers in the Guardian article or is your statement simply a statement of ideological belief?

  12. jerseycityjoan says:

    I am not arguing with the figures mentioned.
    But there were places and figures not mentioned that are of great concern to me.
    US News and World Report says “According to Census projections, the U.S. will add nearly 72 million to its population from 2020 to 2060, when it will have an estimated to have 404 million residents.”
    That increase will be almost all due to immigrants and their descendants. Our native born population has fewer children because they feel they can’t afford the second or third child they really want. Yet they pay for other people’s children with their tax dollars. I would much prefer far fewer immigrants and more financial assistance to parents.
    Pew describes catastrophic population growth ahead for Africa: “Africa is the only world region projected to have strong population growth for the rest of this century. Between 2020 and 2100, Africa’s population is expected to increase from 1.3 billion to 4.3 billion. Projections show these gains will come mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, which is expected to more than triple in population by 2100.”

  13. A. Pols says:

    IF we really do run out of petroleum, then will come the Malthusian world of steep population decline. The “green revolution” in agriculture was built on diesel power and synthetic fertilizers derived from petroleum and natural gas. I’m not saying this Gotterdammerung is imminent, but I am saying if we do exhaust petroleum supplies, the four horsemen will come.

  14. Leith says:

    I live in a rural paradise so am always with the wild things. We get along well. Except perhaps for the nuisance black bears that every spring destroy SWMBO’s suet cages and hummingbird feeders. Plus they forced me long ago to lock down the trash cans.

  15. Eric Newhill says:

    Wildlife Takeover: How Animals Reclaimed Chernobyl | Wildlife Documentary
    Nature always finds a way to survive.mother nature will look after itself.

  16. JohninMK says:

    In defence of Malthus he had no inkling that the petro century was around the corner that would allow unbelievable to him production and productivity increases in agricultural production. That, allied with the advances in pesticides and medicine pretty much why he got it so wrong.
    The net benefit (energy output – energy input to recover) of crude has already dropped from 100:1 in the 30s to around 30:1 for conventional to 5:1 for fracking. As, apart from rare strikes, it becomes more difficult to find and extract then fewer companies will try, especially at current oil prices. Even now many of the largest oil companies are in serious trouble and I don’t think anyone made any profit out of US shale, all being kept alive by historically improbable interest rates.
    Solar and wind along with electricity powered transport are no panacea as all require large amounts of crude to produce their infrastructure. To maintain a World that we would recognise as being similar to now, as opposed to history, is going to need the free energy systems so often talked about.
    Like A. Pols said above, its a while away yet and will be after I’ve left.

  17. AK says:

    Jordan Peterson just put out a wonderful podcast episode with Matt Ridley, a member of the House of Lords and a highly accomplished writer on a number of scientific topics, including many books and regular contributions to The Economist, etc. They discuss in detail how the dire over-population predictions of the middle and late 20th century are not coming to pass, and how developed societies have basically escaped the Malthusian trap. It’s a great listen for anyone looking for a shred of optimism, and hefty amount of information to rebut the alarmists.
    They note in great detail the declining birth rates of highly developed countries, to the point where many are actually not even reproducing at basic replacement rates, basically reiterating and confirming the figures in the Guardian articles cited here.
    Another source of great counter-narrative information in the environmental sphere is a guy named Michael Shellenberger. He recently published a book titled Apocalypse Never detailing how the climate crisis has been largely overblown for purely political reasons, how climate alarmists are doing severe damage to the fabric of society with their hysterics largely based in little to no empirical consensus, and how supposed climate policies actually do far more harm than good while simultaneously failing miserably at achieving their stated ends.
    Peterson’s podcast interview with Ridley:

  18. Eric Newhill says:

    Re; over-population – You mean the experts were wrong again?
    I recall from middle school social sciences that a new ice age was coming. I also recall peak oil.
    What amazes me about the animals taking over Chernobyl vid I posted (up thread) is that they say the reactor released radiation the equivalent of 400 Hiroshima bombs. The ground, water, etc are all showing as radioactive. Yet the animals are thriving and appear totally healthy. Endangered species are even making a come back there; which tells me that survival and successful reproduction are the norm. by far and away. The experts all say that nuclear bomb radiation, dirty bombs are life killers beyond the immediate blast zone and into perpetuity. Apparently they are even wrong about that. Not that we’d want to test that idea by deploying nukes, but we have to be careful what we accept as truth based on the authority of the teller.

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