Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Common Concerns in Mother England

By Ina Lowe

Population, nuclear energy and marine conservation are issues in common for Australia and the UK.

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I am writing this column in England, where I am a member of the first-ever touring Australian Over-70s cricket team, and have been a little surprised to find some of the same issues on the political agenda as in Australia: population, responses to climate change and marine conservation.

It was front-page news that the UK had more than 800,000 births last year, giving a natural increase (births minus deaths) for the year of 250,000. With a net migrant intake for the year of 166,000 the UK had an overall population increase of just over 400,000, taking the total figure past 63 million.

So the UK’s rate of population increase was said to be the highest in Europe and one of the highest in the entire OECD. This was enough to cause political comment about the “un­sustainable” rate of growth, although predictably some economists were saying there would be some short-term benefits.

Australia had a similar numerical increase last year with a population about one-third that of the UK, with almost no public comment from our leaders about the unsustainable rate of growth. This year’s Federal election saw the emergence of the Stable Population Party, running Senate candidates to put the issue on the political agenda, but typically the media have been much more interested in economic trivia and the day-to-day point-scoring of Rudd versus Abbott.

There has...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.