November 26, 2006
Deborah Solomon of The New York Times recently interviewed the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to run a national division of the Anglican Communion.
Question: "How many members of the Episcopal Church are there?"
Bishop Kate: "About 2.2 million," replied the presiding bishop. "It used to be larger percentage-wise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations."
Deborah Solomon: "Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?"
"No," agreed Bishop Kate. "It's probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion."
Too bad the extreme wing of the Islam faith doesn't feel that way. They are multiplying and moving to the United States, France, Germany Spain and elsewhere.
My guess is that the Islamic people will inherit the "stewardship" of the earth: because there will be a huge and growing population of them while the peoples of what Donald Rumsfeld called "Old Europe" have declining populations.
Norman Myers, renowned British scientist and a Fellow of Oxford University, England, has published over 300 papers and 17 books. Myers wrote, "Certain Moslem countries bordering Europe's eastern and southern sides tend to have high fertility rates, often four children or more, primarily because of the disadvantaged status of women. How about the Catholic Church? Well, the country with the smallest family size, just 1.2 children, is Italy; and the part of Italy with the smallest family size is Rome. Guess which part of Rome has the smallest family size."
And why did Mr. Rumsfeld use the term "Old Europe"? Myers thinks he knows: "The outlook [on the decline in population] will also affect the hopes of many Europeans to create a superpower to rival the United States. By 2050 the region's collective economies could be growing at little over 1% per year, compared with more than 2% in the United States (and at least 3% in China). In fact, could all this mean that Europe may eventually face what has been termed 'a slow but inexorable exit from history'?"
The population of the United States just recently topped 300 million. The population of China is somewhere over 1,306,313,812 and growing. In fact, China only allows women to have one child. If someone gets pregnant a second time forced abortion is the likely result.
Zhang Weiqing, minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, stressed that China will keep its family planning policy in place to maintain a low birth level.
"But demographically speaking, China will face another upsurge of population growth in the coming five years, and China's first single-child generation is about to enter reproductive age then, which make it all the more difficult to maintain a low birth level in the coming years," said Zhang.
By 2010, China's population is anticipated to be 1.37 billion.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) says the next half century will see wild swings in population sizes. The population of India, if current birth rate patterns continue, will pass China as the world's most populous nation by 2050, while some countries will shrink by nearly 40%, according to the PRB and new research.
So, when you ponder all the riches and beauties of European and American history and culture, ask yourself who will take over and run these places in future generations?
Western nations must prepare for a future dominated by China and India, whose rapid economic rise will soon fundamentally alter the balance of power. And don't just believe me: this is what former World Bank head James Wolfensohn is telling anyone who will listen.
"Most people in the rich countries don't really look at what's happening in these large developing countries," said Wolfensohn, who is now chairman of Citigroup International Advisory Board and his own investment and advisory firm.
Within 25 years, the combined gross domestic products of China and India would exceed those of the Group of Seven wealthy nations, he said.
"This is not a trivial advance, this is a monumental advance."
So as many in Europe and the United States extol the virtues of birth control and abortion, just consider what many experts are saying.
"Get ready for new management."
Myself I'm leaning to speak Chinese.