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Written on the occasion of the G20 Summit (Hamburg, July 2017) at which migration and terrorism are prominent agenda items
Commentary on terrorism is made separately (30 Questions for the Counter-terrorism Experts of the World: raising the question as to why they are not effectively addressed, 2017)
It is extraordinary to note how assiduous are the statistical and economic studies relating to population, technological innovation and economic growth through to 2050 -- by comparison with the lack of comparable studies on the rate of migration over that future period, or even for the decade to come.
This lack can be considered in large measure as due to a combination of factors:
It could be argued that the sacrifice of women and children in transit is deliberately or unconsciously employed as a form of blackmail to ensure avoidance of any reflection on the longer term implication. The tragic deaths then serve as a form of "human shield" against any tendency to ask more uncomfortable questions, as argued separately (Starvation Imagery as Humanitarian Trump Card? Counterproductive emotional blackmail engendering worldwide indifference, 2016).
The concern here is to collect and develop estimates of migration into Europe, however crude, as an indication of the need for more detailed research. In that respect an extensve study by the UN Population Division is potentially a vital resource (World Population Prospects: key findings and advance tables, 2017 revision). However, given the constraints of that division with respect to any issues relating to consideration of overpopulation, its formulation of the issues could be considered as much a part of the problem as enabling a clearer understanding of the nature of the solution -- given the influx of migrants which Europe currently experiences as a crisis. The report introduces its discussion of this challenge as follows:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that international migration can be a positive force for economic and social development, offering a mechanism to rebalance labour markets between areas of origin and destination and thereby increase the global productivity of labour. Migration across international borders can also help to promote investment and higher standards of living in countries of origin through remittances sent by migrants to families and communities back home, and to accelerate the global diffusion of new ideas and technologies. From a demographic perspective, migration is a much smaller component of population change than births and deaths in most countries and regions of the world. However, in some situations the contribution of international migration to the change in population size or distribution is quite significant, in particular for countries and regions where the number of migrants who depart or arrive, including refugees, is relatively large compared to the size of the sending or receiving population...
Large and persistent economic and demographic asymmetries between countries are likely to remain key drivers of international migration for the foreseeable future. Between 2015 and 2050, the top net receivers of international migrants (more than 100,000 annually) are projected to be the United States of America, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Aust ralia and the Russian Federation. The countries projected to be net senders of more than 100,000 migrants annually include India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, and Indonesia....
Great care is seemingly taken to avoid more precise estimates, to question such estimates in the light of current events, or to consider their implications. However the report does note that for the region which is the primary source of migrants to Europe (and for the age group most likely to migrate):
In Africa, the proportion of the population aged 25-59 is projected to continue to grow for many decades, from 35 per cent in 2017 to 45 per cent by 2090... Africa continues to experience very high rates of population growth. Between 2017 and 2050, the populations of 26 African countries are project ed to reach at least double their current size.
It is appropriate to note that current political and humanitarian debate focuses on immediate response to present crisis, which would otherwise be challenged by the legal concepts of "withholding aid to persons in need" and of "duty to rescue" -- variously understood and defined (or not) in different countries. This merits exploration in the light of the understanding of past crimes against humanity -- necessarily framed in terms of concrete proof from the past. Clearly there is little sensitivity to future crimes against humanity which may be engendered by "withholding action" in some manner.
The issue has been partially highlighted by the predicted implications of climate change, with many references to the Precautionary Principle (Jeroen P. van der Sluijs and Wim C. Turkenburg, Climate change and the Precautionary Principle, 2006). Analogous references to migration are rare by comparison, despite occasional arguments (Steve Sailer, The "Precautionary Principle" and Immigration Policy, The Unz Review: an alternative media selection, 13 March 2016; John Cairns, Jr., Immigration and the Precautionary Principle, Minnesotans for Sustainability, June 2001).
In a world of "fake news", any statistical data tend to be "massaged" in support of the mandate and world view of the agency providing those statistics. This is especially the case with the UN Population Division which is under considerable pressure to avoid presenting any data suggesting that increasing global problems of any kind may be significantly driven by unconstrained increase in population. Equivalent pressures are to be expected with respect to data collected and presented by European statistical agencies with policies explicitly framed by Christian religious values. Statistical methologies tend to be indetectably confused with political agendas.
The difficulty at this time is that many acts undertaken "innocently" in the past, inspired by such religious values, are now considered questionable, if not condemned as criminal. This is most notably the case with regard to some colonial policies and the practice of slavery. The same may become the case in the future with respect to acts of omission undertaken "innocently" at the present time -- at the G20, for example.
Will failure to address the strong probability of future humanitarian disaster come to be recognized in its own right as a crime against humanity -- and specifically with respect to those of future generations who will die as a consequence? Will the blinkered righteous humanitarian focus on the tragedies of the present then be justified as "mitigating circumstances"? No question of "gross negligence"?
The following selection of the most prominent studies are especally significant in their focus on the past and the very immediate future, with the most limited ability to look beyond the months to come.
Migration and migrant population statistics (Eurostat, March 2017). Focusing primarily on 2015, this notes:
A total of 4.7 million people immigrated to one of the EU-28 Member States during 2015, while at least 2.8 million emigrants were reported to have left an EU Member State. These total figures do not represent the migration flows to/from the EU as a whole, since they also include flows between different EU Member States. Among these 4.7 million immigrants during 2015, there were an estimated 2.4 million citizens of non-member countries, 1.4 million people with citizenship of a different EU Member State from the one to which they immigrated, around 860 thousand people who migrated to an EU Member State of which they had the citizenship (for example, returning nationals or nationals born abroad), and some 19 thousand stateless people.
No effort seems to have been made to estimate future flows of migrants into Europe. as was the case with an earlier summary (Immigration in the EU, Eurostat, 10 June 2015)
Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts (BBC News, 4 March 2016): This is introduced as follows:
More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people. The vast majority arrived by sea but some migrants have made their way over land, principally via Turkey and Albania. Winter has not stemmed the flow of people - with 135,711 people reaching Europe by sea since the start of 2016, according to the UNHCR.
No effort is made to estimate future migration into Europe, in the light of such numbers and the inability to respond to the influx.
Immigration into Europe (Wikipedia):
Beginning in 2004, the European Union has granted EU citizens a freedom of movement and residence within the EU, and the term "immigrant" has since mostly been used to refer to extracommunitarian (i.e. non-EU) citizens. Between 2010 and 2013, around 1.4 million non-EU nationals, excluding asylum seekers and refugees, immigrated into the EU each year using regular means, with a slight decrease since 2010. In 2015 the number of asylum seekers arriving from outside Europe increased substantially during the European migrant crisis.In a related entry on the Timeline of the European crisis, the focus is on migration up to 2015. No future estimates are offered, or any indication of their possible implications
International Migration Statistics (Migration Policy Institute): This provides extensive data, primarily up to 2015, with some indications with respect to 2016. No reference is made to the future,
Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 101,210 in 2017; 2,247 Deaths (International Organization for Migration, 4 July 2017):
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) reports that 101,210 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 3 July, with almost 85 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 231,503 arrivals across the region through 3 July 2016 [with 2,963 deaths].... With these latest reports, the IOM Missing Migrants Project (MMP) noted total deaths on the Mediterranean this year are approaching 2,250. Although that figure trails the number of deaths (2,963) that were recorded at this time last year, it nonetheless marks the fourth consecutive year migrant deaths on the Mediterranean Sea have exceeded 2,000.
This followed an earlier document which also had littlr to say about the future (How the G20 Views Migration, International Organization for Migration, 28 May 2015)
Migration into Europe: a surge from the sea (The Economist, 16 August 2014): This noted:
The number of people arriving in Italy by sea this year may already exceed 100,000. By the end of July approximately 93,000 migrants had been rescued. The previous record for an entire year was set in 2011 when around 60,000 people reached Italian shores at the height of the Arab Spring.
Contrary to the normal approach of The Economist (and The Economist Intelligence Unit), no effort was made to consider the possible situation in 2015, let alone the years to follow.
Europe's Main Problem (Politico, 5 January 2016): With a brief allusion to the implications for the future beyond 2015, the author, Valerie Hudson, argues:
The recent surge of migration into Europe has been unprecedented in scope, with an estimated 1 million migrants from the Middle East and North Africa this past year alone, making for a massive humanitarian crisis, as well as a political and moral dilemma for European governments. But one crucial dimension of this crisis has gone little-noticed: sex or, more technically, sex ratios.
UN predicts huge migration to rich countries (The Telegraph, 15 March 2007): Seemingly contrary to later estimates, David Blair, notes the conclusions of the UN Population Division:
At least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year from now until 2050, the United Nations said yesterday.... The latest figures from the UN's population division predict a global upheaval without parallel in human history over the next four decades. There will be billions more people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Of these, tens of millions will migrate to Europe and America, while the indigenous populations of most countries in the rich world will either stagnate or decline. In total, the world's population will grow by 2.5 billion and reach about 9.2 billion by 2050.
The Ethnic Future of Western Europe to 2030 (Global Trends 2030, 3 August 2012). Despite the promising title, the author, Eric Kaufmann, offers only allusions to the numbers and proportions implied.
10 migration trends to look out for in 2016 (World Economic Forum, 18 December 2015). The author, Khalid Koser, as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Migration, carefully restricts his predictions to the year to come:
Europe’s asylum crisis will get worse. There may not be many people left in Syria who want to escape, but the 3 million outside the country will not be going home any time soon, and neither does the majority want to stay in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. Nor is there any prospect for dramatic improvements in other countries from which people are heading to Europe in significant numbers, like Afghanistan and Eritrea... The number of refugees worldwide will rise to yet new historic levels. The Syrian crisis will be compounded by new displacement from Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Libya and Yemen – and these are only the countries that are easy to predict.
International Migration Outlook 2017 (OECD): Despite the promise of the title, the focus is on 2016:
Permanent migration flows in the OECD area have increased for the third year in a row, according to preliminary 2016 data. Around 5 million people migrated permanently to OECD countries in 2016, well above the previous peak level, observed in 2007 before the economic crisis. Humanitarian migration was the main driver behind this rise in 2015/16, accounting for 1.5 million people between January 2015 and December 2016... In 2016, as in 2015, OECD countries registered more than 1.6 million new asylum requests. Of these, almost three-quarters were registered in European OECD countries. Syrians made more than 20% of applications in the OECD area, while Afghans made 13%. Germany registered 720 000 formal asylum applications in 2016 and, of all OECD countries, received the most applications in proportion to its population (0.9%).
Elsewhere in its series on Migration Policy Debates, the OECD responds favourably to the question Is migration good for the economy? (May 2014). It offers comparable data for permanent refugee influx as a percentage of the population for selected OECD countries with figures ranging from 0.1% to 3.4%
The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 (Pew Research Center, 2 April 2015). Curiously, but perhaps appropriately, the only attempt at estimates relating to future decades would seem to have been provided in an extensive study by a non-European research institute with a particular perspective, noting that:
The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050.
-- The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world....
-- In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
-- If current trends continue, Muslims would outnumber Christians by 2070
There is of course very extensive discussion of the issue from the short-term perspective typical of political debate. The lack of any credible future statistical estimates is perhaps best emphasized by the very recent creation by the EU and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis of the JRC/IIASA Centre of Expertise on Population and Migration with a methodology to focus on such matters (Demographic Change and the Drivers of Future Migration into Europe: approach, methodology and work plan, April 2017). Founded on 20 June 2016, the initiative is also framed as an EU Knowledge Centre, as separately described (Migration and demography: new European Commission Knowledge Centre to better manage information and data).
As might be expected, it is from the UN Population Division that the most comprehensive summaries are to be sought, notably through the database associated with its World Population Prospects: key findings and advance tables (2017 revision). This is discussed further below. It is curious that there is so little reference to its longer-terms predictions in the above studies, nor to their implications, nor to the account these have (or have not) taken of the recent influx of migrants into Europe. That agency is of course highly constrained with respect to any conclusions it might itself make.
A sobering assessment of predicting migration patterns is offered by Jakub Bijak (Migration: illusion of prediction, illusion of control, The UK in a Changing Europe, 26 April 2017):
Migration, especially international, is very volatile and barely predictable. Of course, various types of migration flows – labour migration, family migration, student migration, forced migration, or even lifestyle migration – have different levels of predictability. Forced migration flows are some of the least stable and thus most difficult to foresee, as they are often occur under extreme and rapidly changing circumstances.... If predicting migration is so difficult, can it at least be helped by policies designed to control it? To some extent migration flows of course respond to various policies, but the idea that migration is fully controllable is yet another illusion.
Attempts to control it do not change the fundamental drivers of migration: all the complex factors influencing population flows. These drivers can be very different for particular migrants, depending not only on the main purpose or purposes of their migration... but also on their individual circumstances. The different types of migration often overlap: for example, family migrants can be also labour migrants. This makes attempts to control even more difficult. Besides, migration is rife with vested, and often conflicting, interests.
Migrants and various institutions – from employers, to non-governmental organisations, to human smugglers -- have their own agency, and their objectives do not necessarily align with those of migration policy makers. For that reason, migration policies are known to be at a high risk of failure.
The final paragraph cited frames (but avoids) what may be the central problem of prediction, namely the tendency of different agencies to collect and present data according to very particular criteria. The Global Agenda Council on Migration notes that 16 United Nation agencies are mandated to address migration, and the term "migrant" has some 192 definitions -- one for each nation. Also problematic is the extent to which a fruitful distinction is made between registered refugees and those variously defined as illegal. The dilemma in terms of statistical methodology has notoriously been previously highlighted by exclusion of any consideration of the "grey economy" (most notably housework by women) and of the so-called "black economy".
With respect to the black economy, there is also the highly sensitive issue of the degree of willingness of a statistical agency, or its staff, to "massage" data (for a financial consideration or otherwise) as could well be assumed to have been the case in the disruptive Eurostat scandal. The process is consistent with adjusting the rankings of internet search results, now considered an acceptable feature of commercial practice. To what extent is data on migration framed by what are now termed filter bubbles (Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: what the internet is hiding from you, 2011)? Where do such issues feature in discussion of statistical methodology with regard to migration? For example there is every reason to suspect that the budget of the UN Population Division is highly dependent on its abiity to "play down" the implications of its forecasts. Can the invasion of Iraq in quest of weapons of mass destruction now be seen as having been enabled by a filter bubble?
Widely publicized levels of migration into Europe, as is evident from the figures cited above, suggest that it is appropriate to present data in terms of high, medium and low estimates as in the table below. Clearly this can be no more than indicative and subject to extensive criticism. The assumption made of a simlar increase in each year through to 2050 is also highly questionable. However it should be stressed that no other estimates appear to be available to provide a focus for informed debate and there appears to be no institutional motivation to produce them.
|Migration into Europe||Estimated
% of the population
|High estimate?||Medium estimate?||Low estimate?|
The results in the right hand columns above are misleadingly presented since the estimates for the population of Europe (derived from the UN Population Division) do not necessarily take appropriate account of the influx of migrants (variously estimated in the left hand columns). The UN Population Division offers the following estimates for Africa -- but without any immediately obvious clarification as to whether the data are for each 5-year period as a whole or for each year individually in that period (or indeed whether it is percentages that are indicated in relation to migration in the first row). Is such obfuscation encouraged in some way?
|Estimates per 1,000 population in Africa|
|Migration out of Africa||-0.4||-0.3||-0.3||-0.3||-0.2||-0.2||-0.2|
|Births in Africa||33.6||31.6||29.9||28.5||27.1||25.6||34.2|
|Deaths in Africa||8.4||7.7||7.2||6.7||6.5||6.3||6.2|
Curiously, with respect to migration, it is the deprived condition in African countries, with high incidence of starvation, which could be considered a primary underlying driver -- driven as it is by an increase in population carefully excluded from consideration. An indicative summary from the same source is that reproduced below.
|Actual and projected change in total population during five-year time periods by major area,
from 2000 to 2050, with and without international migration starting in 2015 (in millions)
(reproduced from Trends in International Migration, Population Facts, December 2015)
|Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2015) .|
The estimates in the earlier tables therefore merit juxtaposition with estimates suggested by the columns in the following table. Whilst data on the first column is assiduously presented by the UN Population Division, estimates for the second column are clearly problematic and subject to what can be provided by different economic models, notably those attaching significant weight to the success of strategies for the progressive empowerment of women. With respect to estimates of the percentage mortality from starvation, these are clearly even more elusive -- given the unpredictable effects of climate change on agricultural production. The final column is suggested by the link between the exacerbation of conflict by arms production, most notably valued as source of employment and revenue for European arms manufacturers, as discussed separately with estimates calculated by Nadia McLaren (Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product: Refugees Per Kiloton (RPK) as a missing indicator? 2016).
|Drivers of migration into Europe|
|Refugees per kiloton
manufactured in Europe
in support of regional conflict
|Population estimates through to 2100|
It is noteworthy that the UN Population Division does not appear to provide aggregated estimates for fertility, mortality and migration in similar graphic form.
No specific reference can be made within the international community to the implications of future population growth for the exacerbation of the future challenges of society. The possibility of any such debate would seem to have been deliberately rendered impossible -- to a greater degree than has been evident with respect to climate change and other issues (Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming, 2010). With respect to sustainability, there is no sense of how many is too many. The question is political dynamic of more explosive significance than terrorism.
The credibility of any reference to excessive population growth or overpopulation, as fundamental drivers engendering humanitarian disaster, has been systematically called into question and treated as a myth. Reasonable arguments to the contrary, as they might apply to migration, are not receivable. The point can be variously made, whether by exaggeration or otherwise:
Especially intriguing with respect to population processes is the level of denial and the reliance on the "unsaid" (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003). These are curiously analogous to the controversies and taboos associated with discourse regarding sexual interaction, whether within the family, or in society in general. Just as such processes may be a predominant consideration, without being articulated, there is the strange phenomenon of the convoluted strategic discourse designed "around" such matters, as may be variously explored (Lipoproblems -- Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem: the systemic challenge of climate change and resource issues, 2009; Vigorous Application of Derivative Thinking to Derivative Problems, 2013).
Bernie Madoff’s recent Ponzi scheme has drifted out of the world's headlines. However, there is another even more costly and widespread scheme -- "Ponzi Demography" -- that warrants everybody's attention. While it may come in many guises, Ponzi demography is essentially a pyramid scheme that attempts to make more money for some by adding on more and more people through population growth....
According to Ponzi demography, population growth -- through natural increase and immigration -- means more people leading to increased demands for goods and services, more material consumption, more borrowing, more on credit and of course more profits. Everything seems fantastic for a while -- but like all Ponzi schemes, Ponzi demography is unsustainable. (Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme? The Globalist, 4 March 2010)
The question that none dares recognize is the extent to which critical global problems would be reduced if the population was significantly constrained. Examples currently include insufficiency of: food and water, shelter, health care, educational facilities, territorial conflict, transportation, sanitation, etc -- namely most of the issues which are now a focus of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, where no mention is made of population (Map of Systemic Interdependencies None Dares Name: 12-fold challenge of global life and death, 2011). The question is the leading feature of a current issue of New Scientist (The Ethics Issue: should we impose population controls? Future generations risk inheriting an overcrowded, suffocating planet) introducing the argument by Daniel Cossins (Look after future generations vs Realise human potential, New Scientist, 5 July 2017). The point stressed is that taking action may mean what was taboo is now common sense.
Exemplifying the prevailing pattern of "derivative thinking" and question avoidance, the final communique of the Hamburg G20 Summit, identifies the "root causes" of migration as follows:
We launch the G20 Africa Partnership in recognition of the opportunities and challenges in African countries as well as the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Our joint efforts will foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development, in response to the needs and aspirations of African countries, contributing to create decent employment particularly for women and youth, thus helping to address poverty and inequality as root causes of migration. (G20 Leaders´ Declaration: Shaping an Interconnected World. Hamburg, 7-8 July 2017)
Whether in relation to migration or terrorism, there is clearly great need to clarify how "root causes" are determined, most notably in the light of the multiple methods associated with the discipline of Root Cause Analysis. Arguably this is especially relevant to any understanding of the nature of radicalisation now framed as a root cause driving terrorism, as discussed separately (Ordering multiple competing quests for radical causes, 2015).
For Frank Vogl (The Worst Human Crisis Since World War Two: America turns its back on the world’s starving – will the G20 come to the rescue? The Globalist, 18 June 2017):
More than 20 million people in Africa face death by starvation, but America is turning its back. In a heated set of exchanges in a U.S. Senate hearing, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended the Trump Administration’s plan to cut U.S. foreign aid by 29% and U.S. support for humanitarian programs at the United Nations....
The Summit of the Group of 20 world leaders takes place in Hamburg on July 7 and 8. Right now the rapidly unfolding crisis in Africa is unlikely to receive more than a paragraph of generalities in a long final communiqué. President Trump, President Macron, Prime Minister May, President Putin and their other G20 colleagues are all so consumed with their own domestic politics that they are guilty of neglecting millions of desperate people who are the victims of man-made crises.
I have written before about the prospect of 20 million deaths in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan due to starvation that results from the combination of grand corruption and extreme violence. The latest analysis from the United Nations suggests that 20 million might be a low figure. 2017 will be terrible; 2018 may be worse.
|Relevance of Predictions of Nostradamus ?|
Terrorism and Large-Scale Migration
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