What we’re looking at is actually the biggest migration since the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire. There will be tens of millions—scores of millions—of Africans trying to get into Europe. I don’t know how the Europeans will keep them out.
Africa is the only part of the world where the population is still growing and growing rapidly. Africa south of the Sahara was about 6% of the world’s population in the ’50s, now it’s about 16%. But by the turn of the century, it’s going to be 45%.
Why is Africa the only place in the world where the population is still growing? Because it’s largely undeveloped. But that might change soon, because the Chinese are arriving in large numbers.
We’re seeing a veritable recolonization of Africa. Each time I visit Africa, there are more Chinese. It doesn’t matter which country; they’re everywhere…
It’s supposed to be official Chinese policy to migrate about 300 million Chinese to Africa in the years to come. They’re employed in building roads, railroads, ports, mines, and other infrastructure… The Chinese are lending billions to African governments.
If the Chinese develop Africa, its current population explosion will end as living standards rise, and so will the current migration to Europe. And that will probably happen well before the end of this century.
But why was there a barbarian invasion of the Roman empire in about 400 AD? What made millions of Vandals, Goths, and Huns come bursting into Europe from the northeast?
My guess is: climate change. 400 AD was the end of the Roman Warm Period which lasted from 250 BC to 400 AD. And at the end of this period the Rhine and the Danube – the northern borders of the Roman empire – seem to have frozen over quite frequently. e.g. 378 AD and 405 AD. And when that happened the Vandals, Goths, and Huns could just walk across the rivers. The emperor Marcus Aurelius even fought a battle on the frozen Danube in 173 AD. And if these major European rivers were freezing over, most likely the Vistula and the Dnieper and the Don and the Volga were freezing over too. So the Vandals, Goths, and Huns were most likely refugees from freezing lands where crops were failing and animals dying. They had no choice but to migrate, and to migrate south. And that’s exactly what they did when they burst into the Roman empire. They spread south into France and Spain and Italy as well.
If this migration stopped, it was probably because these Dark Ages only lasted for a few hundred years, and were followed by the Medieval Warm Period, which was another period of European economic growth and stability.
But the barbarian invasion of the Roman empire wasn’t the only mass migration around this time. There was also a mass movement of Norsemen, also heading south, circa 850 AD. The Norsemen invaded Britain, and also France (Normandy).
And another mass migration came from Arabia with the rise of Islam after the death of Mohammed in 632 AD. Within a century the whole of north Africa had been conquered, and much of Spain. The Moors were only halted at the battle of Tours in 732 AD.
After the end of the Medieval Warm Period, the climate of Europe (and perhaps the whole world) got steadily colder. And by 1640 we were in the depths of the Little Ice Age. And that’s around the time that another vast migration began. For in 1492 the Spanish and Portuguese started to occupy the New World, closely followed by the French, the Dutch, and the British. When the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Britain to Massachusetts in 1620, they were the first of millions of Europeans who migrated to not just the New World, but pretty much everywhere else as well (Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand). This was perhaps the greatest explosion of peoples across the world in the entirety of human history. And it started just when Europe was deep in the Little Ice Age, and it saw millions of Europeans heading south, just like the invading Vandals, Goths, and Huns a thousand years before them.
The period 1400 to 1600 AD was also the time, during the Ming dynasty, when the Great Wall of China was built in stone to stop mass incursions from the north. The Chinese had been building this wall on and off for about 2000 years. So it rather looks like they were facing a new invasion from the north just when Europeans were sailing south to escape freezing Europe. And one of these invaders was none other than the Mongolian Genghis Khan circa 1200 AD, during another cold snap.
This isn’t how history is usually taught. For the most part climate plays no part in history, which is usually said to be driven by completely different factors. But I think that a strong case can be made that a great many mass movements of peoples were driven by climate change, and almost always by climate cooling. For it seems that in warm periods like the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period and our current Warm Period are times when civilisations rise and technological innovations multiply. And it’s conversely in Cold Periods when civilisations fall. The fall of the Western Roman empire in 476 AD took place during one of these cold periods. And the fall of the Eastern Roman empire in 1453 also took place at the beginning of another cold spell.
Seen this way, we should welcome our current global warming, and encourage more of it. What we should worry about is another period of cooling. The start of a new ice age would be a disaster for Canadians, Americans, Europeans, and Russians, and it would start another powerful southern migration, far stronger than the current northern migration from Africa.