BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
As I read the most recent article in National Geographic Magazine’s (NGM) series about world population issues, I couldn’t help but wonder about our national numerical future.
The Republic of Armenia’s population is shrinking. This is a problem since no matter how much effort is expended on cultural/national preservation, nothing beats having a nation living together on its own land. This problem didn’t begin with the Genocide’s dispersal. Remember the significant communities we have had in Egypt, India, and Poland? But it certainly became critical as a consequence of the Genocide. Now, we have economic issues driving the depopulation of the statelets that we do have.
But one particular idea had me particularly worried, even more than about the broader depopulation issue. The topic NGM addressed was the positive aspects of dense urban population. Cities become centers of great human creativity and progress with relatively low environmental impact. Those cauldrons of human contact and interaction produce innovation and culture.
So where does that leave us?
Modern cities are huge. And they often blend with one another. So what is really being discussed are metropolitan areas. Since RoA’s real population is (probably optimistically) 2.5 million, I looked up in Wikipedia how many urban areas have that much or more population: 154.
So if every Armenian living in the country were to reside in or around Yerevan, we’d be in 155th place as far as potential for developing our nation with our unique “flavor”. This is worrisome.
There comes a point, much like the critical mass needed for nuclear reactions to perpetuate, below which a country with too little population is no longer viable. How are we to compete on this kind of global scale? We’d better wise up and address this severe dual-problem— mere existence coupled with density based creativity.
Now complicate this with the broader concerns about the carrying capacity of the planet. Many people advocate population control. Why should we pay the price of someone else’s crime? How do we account and make up for the loss of 1.5 million people four generations ago? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, estimated world population was 1.8 billion in 1915. It is now almost four times that. Assuming our population had grown at the same rate, we’d have 6 million more Armenians on the planet, almost doubling what we have now. How does this get fixed?
There are a lot more questions above than I have answers for. I do know one thing. This is an issue that needs attention before it’s too late. Please start thinking about and discussing it, if you haven’t already.