How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Facebooked Paree?)
Print Friendly and PDF

Thomas Friedman of the NYT is in Africa. His first column about the increasing inundation we can expect from the booming population of the Sahel a week ago caused the NYT shut off comments after only 84 because most of the commenters focused on Friedman’s subversive details, such as the would-be immigrant with three wives and 17 children. Now he’s written a more carefully crafted column about how the Camp of Saints is the fault of Climate Change, so the NYT allowed 183 comments, most of them still bringing up the inconvenient truth of overpopulation, before shutting down the comments.

Out of Africa, Part II

Thomas L. Friedman APRIL 20, 2016

Ndiamaguene, SENEGAL — I am visiting Ndiamaguene village in the far northwest of Senegal. If I were giving you directions I’d tell you that it’s the last stop after the last stop — it’s the village after the highway ends, after the paved road ends, after the gravel road ends and after the desert track ends. Turn left at the last baobab tree.

It’s worth the trek, though, if you’re looking for the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya. It starts here. …

There are almost no young or middle-aged men in this village of 300. They’re gone.

It wasn’t disease. They’ve all hit the road. The village’s climate-hammered farmlands can no longer sustain them, and with so many kids — 42 percent of Senegal’s population is under 14 years old — there are too many mouths to feed from the declining yields. So the men have scattered to the four winds in search of any job that will pay them enough to live on and send some money back to their wives or parents. …

“We are mostly farmers, and we depend on farming, but it is not working now,” the village chief, Ndiougua Ndiaye, explained to me in Wolof, through a translator. After a series of on/off droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, the weather patterns stabilized a bit, “until about 10 years ago,” the chief added. Then, the weather got really weird….

Has he ever heard of something called “climate change”? I asked. “We heard about it on the radio, and we have seen it with our own eyes,” he answered. The temperature is different. The winds are different. They’re hot when they should be cold.

The chief’s impressions are not wrong. Senegal’s national weather bureau says that from 1950 to 2015, the average temperature in the country rose two degrees Celsius, much faster than anticipated, and since 1950, the average annual rainfall has declined by about 50 millimeters (about two inches). So the men of Ndiamaguene have no choice but to migrate to bigger towns or out of the country. …

Gardens or walls? It’s really not a choice. We have to help them fix their gardens because no walls will keep them home.

Except for Israel’s walls, which seem to work fine.

Anyway, I’m all in favor of teaching sub-Saharans how to stop turning their farmlands into the Sahara. But, teaching better farming techniques won’t employ the surplus population of these super-high fertility countries:

1 NIGER 6.76 2015 EST.
2 BURUNDI 6.09 2015 EST.
3 MALI 6.06 2015 EST.
4 SOMALIA 5.99 2015 EST.
5 UGANDA 5.89 2015 EST.
6 BURKINA FASO 5.86 2015 EST.
7 ZAMBIA 5.72 2015 EST.
8 MALAWI 5.60 2015 EST.
9 ANGOLA 5.37 2015 EST.
10 AFGHANISTAN 5.33 2015 EST.
11 SOUTH SUDAN 5.31 2015 EST.
12 MOZAMBIQUE 5.21 2015 EST.
13 NIGERIA 5.19 2015 EST.
14 ETHIOPIA 5.15 2015 EST.
15 TIMOR-LESTE 5.01 2015 EST.
16 BENIN 4.95 2015 EST.
17 TANZANIA 4.89 2015 EST.
18 GUINEA 4.88 2015 EST.
19 SIERRA LEONE 4.80 2015 EST.
20 CAMEROON 4.76 2015 EST.
21 LIBERIA 4.70 2015 EST.
25 CHAD 4.55 2015 EST.
27 RWANDA 4.53 2015 EST.
28 TOGO 4.48 2015 EST.
29 GABON 4.46 2015 EST.
30 SENEGAL 4.44 2015 EST.
32 GUINEA-BISSAU 4.23 2015 EST.
33 MADAGASCAR 4.20 2015 EST.
34 IRAQ 4.12 2015 EST.
35 GAZA STRIP 4.08 2015 EST.
36 GHANA 4.06 2015 EST.
37 ERITREA 4.02 2015 EST.
38 WESTERN SAHARA 4.00 2015 EST.
39 MAURITANIA 4.00 2015 EST.
Agriculture is extremely susceptible to productivity increase. Have you ever driven across farm regions of the U.S. and looked for a farmer farming? That last time I drove I-80 in summer I didn’t see a single farmworker working in the fields (I saw one guy driving a pickup truck through the fields, presumably on some farming related task, but that was it.) The exception was, of course, Amish areas, where there are huge numbers of people working in the fields.

Raj Chetty’s list of the top 25 counties in America for combatting the scourge of income immobility, many of the best counties lost population in recent decades due to rapidly increasing agricultural productivity.

The thing to keep in mind about these 39 countries with at least 4 babies per woman is that it takes over a generation. If their Total Fertility Rates fell to 2.1 tomorrow, there population would continue to rise for 40 or 50 years.

The most popular reader comment on Friedman’s column begins:

Mathias Weitz is a trusted commenter Frankfurt, Germany 20 hours ago

The african population doubled from 1982 to 2009, and quadrupled from 1955 to 2009. The main cause of the desertification in the sahel is overgrazing by an ever growing population. Also, the desertification of the sahara started already 10.000 years ago, so this is no recent phenomenon.

To blame climate chance for the exodus is scapegoating, overpopulation and the exhausting of resources is the real problem.

So you can see why the NYT had to close down commenting, fast.

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF