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« Fruit loop - Josh 342 | Main | Quotes of the day »

Changed times

By almost any measure, the UK - and England in particular - is seriously overpopulated. According to the Optimum Population Trust, our numbers are growing by more than 320,000 a year. Addressing this doesn't mean forced sterilisations or a Chinese-style, one-child policy, but it does mean giving incentives for people to have smaller families and addressing rising levels of immigration.

Mark Lynas, vintage 2007

Perhaps today the circumstances have changed...

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Reader Comments (55)

Cheap labour is the number 1 policy priority of big business.

"The Confederation of British Industry last week suggested that reducing access to non-EU workers could lead to skill shortages and hamper Britain's economic recovery. "

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Here is a guy that is an expert on just about everything, or so these comments and the titles of his books suggest. The POTUS has solved the global warming threat so, maybe, Mark is casting about for a new cause so as to sell more books. {Anyone read any of those?}

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

A nation's most valuable resource is its people.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

By 'almost any measure' London is also over populated. And so are all cities. And so is Mark Lynas' chair.

It speaks to our times that a journalist can claim to have surveyed most, if not all, measures and yet clearly have missed the measures that are important.

It's the same old same old Malthusianism: By Malthusian measures we should all be dead of starvation by now, but the breeding peoples just don't seem to get the message.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

And how many at the rally will take some refugees home with them - unqualified - get what you're given? - oooh- no - they just want you to pay for all of it.

I'd give house space to some Syrians - but I'd want to interview them a bit first.

This looks like yet more "progressive" politics in drag.....I refuse to call them "lefties"! Can we export them to Sweden to make a bit of space - call it a provisional "B Ark" option?

If some of the countries that people are fleeing from were decently run - I'd emigrate .....

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:33 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Just shows guys like this are legends in their own minds and just totally full of it.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Workers of the World, Migrate.

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

For those who might be interested, here's Hans Rosling's (June of this year) take on this refugee issue ... along with a glimpse of my own perspective, when one considers the UN's role in this vs other matters - particularly that of flogging climate change/sustainable development:

Of refugees and UN priorities

Sep 2, 2015 at 4:56 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Thanks Bish -

On this issue though I think I've been more consistent than on many. I've always supported the rights of refugees and asylum seekers - it must have been in the late 1990s that I was part of a group who regularly protested against our local immigration detention centre, Campsfield House.

And before you ask, yes, we'd be happy to host a refugee family in our house...

best wishes


Sep 2, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Lynas

The reality is that births have been below longer term population replacement levels until they started rising again on the back of births to immigrant mothers, but there has been a recent large increase in the population aged 20-30 driven entirely by immigration (obviously). Try looking at the history here.

Mouse over the charts for data points and select years via the drop down.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Hi Mark..

for how long, and how big a family...

10 years at 320k a year is over 3 million, and nobody says that 320k a year is the potential peak...

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Why wait, then, Mark. The need is great, now.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

It's not an easy issue I grant you.

The problem with your new protest is that it describes the current wave of immigrants as refugees, but anecdotally many (most?) are economic migrants. Either way, we are going to have to undertake a major housebuilding programme to accommodate them all. It's the end of the green belt.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

We bomb and starve them into our job centres. That's the name of the game. Similarly for Mexicans and Africans. Starve them out of their farms and their villages.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth."

George Orwell

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

'We came, we saw, he died, and now it's somebody else's problem.'

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I would like to know by what measures Mark considered the UK overpopulated in 2007, when we were already below replacement birth levels, and the increase since is largely immigration driven. He's careful to make the distinction between migration and refugees though. I imagine he is in favour of real 'assylum seekers' but not economic migrants? The trouble with sloganising is that it's difficult to spot what's really being talked about.

Does he still want us to have smaller families and reduce immigration? What about EU open borders?

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ronan

The real worry (apart from all the others) is that this influx is not going to stop. Air head journo's, eco loons and PPEs. will need to open up a few more rooms in their houses...that'll be right!

What they do is dump their hand wringing problems on the tax payers as if its the usual thing to do...and for them it surely is.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

The Optimum Population Trust is a right wing eugenics friendly organisation and Mark Lynas has just shown his true colours. Similar to Monbiot, pretending to be left, but actually something quite different. That is where the contradiction comes from. Having to front himself as a left wing humanitarian, while pushing deeply regressive 'deep ecology'.

Sir Crispin Tickell, a member of the eugenics Huxley clan. Thatcher's ambassador to the UN, mentor to George Monbiot. Wants to reduce UK population by 2/3.

"He is also a patron of population concern charity Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust), and told Radio 4's Today programme that the ideal population for Britain could be around 20 million. As a member of Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force, Tickell counselled against spreading cities saying that we need denser living, that young adults should not expect to leave home straight away, and that older relatives could live in 'granny flats'

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Every politician and Cameron most of all, likes to strut around the world stage being seen to do the right thing. Unfortunately they do not recognise the 'right thing' even when it smacks them in the mouth.
The question of taking in more immigrants for whatever reason is a non starter because of the policies of Blair and Cameron. This country still has not established the roads, schools, hospitals and houses needed by the immigrants who have already arrived. Those immigrants have already changed the culture of the UK and government shows no sign of recognising this.
No more immigration to feed industry fat cats and to rob us of our countryside and our culture.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:26 PM | Registered CommenterDung

If Mark Lynas can put a Syrian Family up in his house for any length of time then he is living in too big a house. For a progressive anyway.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

We all feel compassion for the refugees but there remains the problem of infrastructure in this crowded isle of ours. Housing, Hospitals and Schools are already under immense pressure to cope with the growing population.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Elliot

Well I was wrong in 2007 about the population issue. I don't support the Optimum Population Trust. Anyone who's read my God Species book, not to mention our recent Ecomodernist manifesto - here - will know that Malthusianism is not my thing at all. In 2007 I was still anti-GM too. Sorry if you're having difficulty keeping up :-)

And yes, it doesn't really matter what I think - I'm under no grand illusions about my own importance here. But the Bishop was the one who started this, not me.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Lynas

Politics vs principle.

The question in re Lynas' posts is which is which?

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Mark Lynas

"But the Bishop was the one who started this, not me."

No sir, it would appear this started with your comments in 2007, because you now state they were wrong, begs the question, will you be back in 8 years time saying you were wrong in 2015?

Those who preach certainty about the future must realise it carries responsibilities.

I am quite sure some, if not most, of the present day economic immigrants would appreciate the ability to grow the economy in their place of birth? Would not allowing them access to a cost effective and secure energy supply be one of the means to do so?

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:57 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Mark Lynas

Like Monbiot, you seem to have an interesting relationship as a sparring partner of ecofascist Paul Kingsnorth. Monbiot spoke at one of his Dark Mountain organisation conferences.

Tonight at about 5.20 I'll be on Radio London with my friend and sparring partner Mark Lynas,

Ivy League (Dartmouth College) professor of environmental studies, Michael K. Dorsey referred to Dark Mountain in the following way in the Guardian.

"Everyone should stay vigilant and keep their danger sniffers on full alert when the likes of those high on the Dark Mountain and others associated with "deep ecological" tendencies get on about "crises" of "humanity." Sadly, we have a great deal of evidence now, that such 'dark' tendencies have been built upon a legacy of misanthropic meandering, petty ECO FASCISM and immigrant bashing-- souped up in talk of waywardness from the "myth[s] of human centrality"--by the likes of Teddy Goldsmith, the gaggle of old Ecologist sods, inter alia, some of whom helped precipitate the Cornerhouse'.

Sep 2, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

If the European Union wants to decrease its projected Carbon Footprint and voluntarily Sterilize its projected increasing population they can always start with desperate Syrian and West African refugees coming across the Mediterranean in Rickety open topped boots that Capsize .Or else just use their border patrols to keep them out

UKIP and Katie Hopkins are not allowed to say that but Environmentalists in Switzerland can.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Population per square mile, England is now the most densely populated country in Europe.

And if the West hadn't been so MONUMENTALLY stupid about Syria, and had instead backed and supported Assad, none of this would have happened. After all, Syria was the last secular buffer between the West and the headfuck crazy Jihadis. Yes, he liked to pull toe nails out of Islamists, but he could have passed that on to the USA, who are experts in that field. Instead, Obama drew a red line in the sand and turned his back.

The Syria that is now gone had a growing GDP, a professional middle class for the first time, and was as tolerant as an country out there can be. My stepdaughter was there for six months before the shit hit the fan, and loved it. Why we turned our backs on Syria I will never know.

As for Lynas, he's just another Left Liberal arsehole. Pay him no heed.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

the UK is not overpopulated, London is.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterHans Erren


"Anyone who's read my God Species book, not to mention our recent Ecomodernist manifesto..."

Not on my list of really important things to do this decade.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Businesses have long been Refugees from dictatorial and oppressive policies to fight climate change. It is too late to get those refugees back to the UK, so we can welcome them.

Whether Mark Lynas would be happy to welcome such returning refugees, to provide employment to support the refugees he wants to welcome, is something he has yet to decide is worth changing his mind about.

Sep 2, 2015 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The EU seems to have abandoned its own laws with regard to immigration and asylum seekers. It seems that economic migrants can enter the EU without challenge and travel anywhere within its borders. Until the law is applied I don't think the UK should feel obliged to take a share of the consequences.

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

James Evans, couldn't you slot in the Lynas recommended reading, between classes on natural tofu weaving, and organic origami for orangutans? The local tech college are offering herbal naturist yoghurt yodelling as an appetiser.

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mark Lynas's home is now declared a new reception centre for teenage young men from sub-Saharan Africa crossing the Med, some fleeing poverty, others fleeing the criminal justice system of their home countries, undocumented so no-one know who they are or where they are from.

Lynas has a typically idealised picture of "Syrian immigrants" - you know, doctors and architects. Those of us with first hand experience of border crossing points know better. Lynas is a typical leftist narcissist, his conscience is clean, but he has no solution to offer. 800 million people better off in Europe, any ideas Mark? (Clue: the word you can't say is "no". Narcissists never can.)

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterLondon Calling

Mark - Anyone who's read my God Species book, not to mention our recent Ecomodernist manifesto - here - will know that Malthusianism is not my thing at all.

I've read Both. In the God species, you haven't escaped Malthusian thinking as much as re-branded limits-to-growth as planetary-boundaries -- a difference in emphasis, perhaps, but not in substance. Similarly, Ecomodernism isn't a reflection on environmentalism as such, such that eco-modernists have much to say about why population/resource-environmentalists are wrong. (Though others in the E-M fold are more able).

A proper green departure from population-environmentalism would mean understanding why such ideas became a foundation of green thinking, and how those problems persist within it. It's not enough to say 'ok, I think people are important, after all'; to continue to fail to address the criticisms of the green perspective looks, again, more like a response to political failure than a response to criticism and development of your perspective.

So you've renounced population-environmentalism. Congratulations. But since you've turned 180 degrees on so many issues, you can hardly blame your critics -- who you call 'cynics' on Twitter -- for not keeping track. Others have maintained and develop a consistent argument over the same time.

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

The original intention of the Schengen agreement was that those states within the Schengen area would dedicate the financial savings from abolishing internal borders to re-enforcing the external border of the area.

That commitment was never honoured and the dosh saved got trousered and used for other purposes.

That is why Schengen has been a total f**k-up. The UK government suspected this would happen, which is why it never signed up to it.

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:43 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Hans Erren on Sep 2, 2015 at 6:19 PM
"the UK is not overpopulated, London is."

Jeremy Poynton on Sep 2, 2015 at 6:19 PM
"Population per square mile, England is now the most densely populated country in Europe."

And when they arrive, they will want Sharia Law!

We should, however, look to the 'elephant in the room':
A Solution to the Migration Crisis
"Despite the NATO search for reasons, the real “root cause”, the elephant in the room, for migration to Europe is ignored. It is the unwillingness of Arab and Muslim states to help and to accommodate the migrants coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other Muslim countries. One might reasonably expect the migrants, escaping their suffering from war, oppression and poverty, to be offered shelter in the wealthier countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates including Qatar and Dubai.
One can understand that the favorite charity of these wealthy Arab nations is themselves, but it is not unreasonable for the “international community” to demand that they share some of their wealth and take responsibility for helping Muslims caught the violence, the horrors and the oppression of other Muslim states. Now is the time for the world community to discuss, the problem and to ask, in the words of Socrates, do you know by what means the wealthy Arab nations might be persuaded to change their behavior and do the right thing."

But why should they help? It is part of the Islamification of Europe and the West in general, but not Russia; something that our national politicians will not acknowledge, and something that Merkel appears to want.

I wonder why?

Sep 2, 2015 at 7:43 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

It seems the Labour Party grandees are tripping over themselves to offer places in the UK for these 'refugees'. Welsh Assembly First Idiot - Carwyn Jones has been on the Beeb saying Wales would be prepared to accept 500-600, although he was very short on detail as to how this figure came about and who was consulted or mandated this figure, apart from himself.

Sep 2, 2015 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopianer on Sep 2, 2015 at 7:43 PM

It looks like those who signed the agreement want to fine those who didn't sign up to it for not obeying the agreement.

Nice one, n'est pas!

Sep 2, 2015 at 8:25 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

A frightening view of Europe, from the US:
Mellanie Philips & Robert Spencer On Jihad in Europe

The current migration issue will only shorten the time scales.

Sep 2, 2015 at 8:54 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

But the way forward has be shown for us by one of Jeremy Corbyns friends in Venezuela, a certain successor to Hugo Chavez Presidente Mundo, who is throwing immigrants out of his country at the point of a gun.

So Jeremy and the entire left will not object if we do the same here. And while on the subject of Jezza. At the Durham Miners Gala he said that his policy on Coal is that we should return to mining it. It's going to be interesting to find how many circles he's going to have to square. Hint for Josh

Sep 2, 2015 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrianJay

Steven Poole on invasive immigrants, nailing Monbiot to the wall in a hilarious way.

"So goes the green version of the English Defence League: sheep aren't natives! They are "a feral invasive species". They don't belong here. "Invasive species," Monbiot complains, "challenge attempts to defend a unique and distinctive fauna and flora" – just as anti-immigration demagogues claim that foreigners will destroy a unique and distinctive British culture. "Certain animals and plants," Monbiot warns us, even "have characteristics that allow them to invade" – what, like Panzers and U-boats? – "and colonise many parts of the world."

Thus each ecosystem is conceived as a little Westphalian nation state, vulnerable to assault by expansionist outsiders. By the 1930s, unfortunately, the most vocal back-to-the-landers were fascists, in Britain and elsewhere: only by protecting and nurturing the national soil, it was argued, could we guarantee the ongoing purity of the national bloodline. (The "invasive species" here were Jews and other undesirable humans.)"

Sep 2, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Mark Lynas has never offered a consistent and objective view of anything. He has been so busy changing his mind very loudly that most of us have not bothered to listen after we first realized he merely regurgitates the latest fashionable view espoused by his utterly mad idol, Monbiot. Most of us here have been totally consistent in our view of how the world turns, but Lynas and his dizzy clique will remain loudly clueless despite some of us attempting to reason with him/them.
As always, our cartoonists (with Josh in the lead, as always) are ahead of the game as they always have been. For an accurate take on history, go back through cartoon anthologies!

Sep 2, 2015 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Note to all.

It has been deemed Politically Incorrect to ask why oil rich wealthy nations are not offering aid and assistance to refugees, who may share cultural, religious and even languages of a similar nature.

It is Politically (absolutely right-on mate) Correct, to blame anyone else, provided they are not socialist leaning.

By Executive Order
The Guardian.

Sep 2, 2015 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Well I was wrong in 2007 about the population issue.

Yes, you were.
But many people are wrong, often.
Admitting an error is rare.

I give much kudos to Mark Lynas for correcting his position.

Sep 2, 2015 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

golf charlie

They are our cheap labour, not the Muslim world's . We drove them over here. We get to keep them. There's a lot more than this.

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead withthe trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much.

Sep 2, 2015 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Just wanted to say I am astonished, dropping in here after a long time, to find that the immigration issue is so all-pervading and important that it has 'invaded' (if that's not too controversial a word) a blog focussed on a quite distinct set of issues.

Is this a confirmation that, regardless of the importance of other problems facing the world, there is nothing so pressing or potentially devastating as this massive disruption and threat to our society? Even CC?

No-one should feel isolated in worrying about this, and the apparent paralysis of our political institutions in dealing decisively with it - our concern unites us to an extent which is unprecedented in the recent past, and shared in the face of the media and a few politicians.

Sep 3, 2015 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuart Beaker

esmiff, 11:08pm:

Dream on, in the past 60 years the far-left press has claimed the viet minh, viet cong, pathet lao, khmer rouge, hamas, hezebollah, to name but a few, have all been CIA/MI6 funded and/or supported, but none of those claims have stood up to scrutiny. However, when it comes to Syria and Iraq you seem to ignore the elephants in the corner - namely Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Bahrain etc.

Sep 3, 2015 at 12:27 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian


The evidence came out in court .

Britain first covertly funded Muslim Brotherhood, a new radical force with a terrorist wing in 1942.

Later on ...

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for
rebel leaders behind uprising

The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning
“regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

'Why Egypt doesn't trust us - LA Times

Private pro-democracy groups funded by the U.S. have a troubling history.

The program stems from a discredited CIA operation. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cold War, the CIA set up a group of phony foundations to funnel CIA money to private groups that were either anti-communist or, at least, non-communist. Among the recipients were the AFL-CIO, the National Student Assn. and the magazines Encounter in London and Transition in Africa. Some did not even realize they were operating with CIA subsidies. When the secret operation was exposed in Ramparts magazine and other U.S. publications, there was great embarrassment, and President Lyndon Johnson put a stop to such CIA funding.

But many in Congress felt that the program's problem lay only in its ties to the CIA. Cut those ties and make everything aboveboard, they argued, and the attempt to win hearts and minds to the American way would be useful and benign. In the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy to take the place of the defunct CIA program.


The Israeli government created Hamas according to Prime Minister Olmert in the Jerusalem Post.

"Netanyahu established Hamas, gave it life , freed Sheikh Yassin and gave him the opportunity to blossom"

Sep 3, 2015 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff


The elephants in the corner - namely Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Bahrain etc. are our elephants. Lock stock and oil barrel.

Sep 3, 2015 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

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