The population of our country is too high, and getting higher every day. Our environmental impact is too large, and getting greater by the day. The two are connected. The more people we have in this country, the greater the impact on our scarce resources.
The easy, knee jerk, reaction is to blame immigration – but first generation immigrants represent only a very small fraction of the UK population (and many of these don’t intend to be permanently resident anyway). We can’t afford to keep living like this. We are already, and have been for some years, a net importer of food – but if we keep allowing the population to grow out of control then we won’t be able to grow any food for ourselves. As we build on our green spaces, and in the green belt, the air that we breathe and the water that we drink will grow dirtier and dirtier. Are we to confine our green spaces to only the largest mountains, where it is too expensive to build? Or do we believe that the green spaces, the farms and woodlands, are worth preserving too?
I can only think of one solution to the problem – but it’ll take a brave government to implement it. The birth rate, the biggest driver of population growth in the UK, needs to be brought down. If we can do this then we can truly have our cake and eat it – and it doesn’t just benefit those who like living the country life. Those who prefer fast cars and gadgets can keep enjoying them too, free from overly clogged roads and the threat of infrastructural collapse. One small sacrifice from every couple in the country (the number of children that they have), and a huge range of benefits for everybody.
As to how we bring the population down, I have one idea. Doubtless others may have better ones (perhaps ones that are easier to implement). My idea is this:
- The first child is eligible for child support – perhaps even at more generous levels than today, as a sweetener for the following reforms.
- The second child is eligible for no child support although, in circumstances where the parents cannot afford to care for the child without state aid, the parents may both opt to be sterilised in return for the child support payment.
- A tax will be levied for the third and each subsequent child although, as previously, the parents may both opt to be sterilised in return for the tax to be waived. These rules would also be applied to prospective immigrants with children.
- In addition, anyone born in the UK who can reach retirement without having had any children will be eligible for a bonus payment on their pension, in recognition of their savings to the country.
It sounds draconian. It is draconian – but I can’t think of any other option to restore balance to the environment of the United Kingdom. In my view, the rules should remain in place until the population stabilises at around 30 million – a sustainable population at which these islands should be self sufficient for food and other resources.
One objection might be that we already have an ageing population, and who will care for the elderly? It’s a short-termist objection however, and one which risks gambling our entire future for the benefit of one or two generations. That said, there shouldn’t be a problem because technology has advanced to the point where robots, and even reasonable facsimiles of human carers, will be able to take up the load within a decade or two – in other words, sooner than the time required for a baby born now to reach adulthood.
As technology advances there are fewer jobs available which could leave large segments of society unemployed, disillusioned with their place in society, and inclined to riot and social disorder. A reduced population, combined with greater automation, could result in a richer, happier, fully employed society, living in a cleaner, more spacious land, with no adverse impact on GDP.
It’s a hard line to tread – but it might just be the magic bullet to fix many of the ills that this land faces today.