Immigration/Population Concerns Rise in Britain

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on September 10, 2009

The role of immigration as the leading source of population growth is a divisive issue among U.S. environmentalists. The Sierra Club, which once called for immigration policies aimed at stabilizing the population, has backed away from the issue. Others (see here, for instance) make the case that curtailment of immigration is essential to efforts to safeguard the environment.

But the issue is getting increasing attention in Britain, according to a story from yesterday's "Marketplace" program, which is broadcast on many public radio stations and is available online here.

The story notes that rising immigration, coupled with a baby boom also led by immigrants, has given Britain the "biggest annual increase in its population in almost 50 years." Norman Myers, a professor of development economics at Oxford University who specializes in sustainability issues, expressed concern that the nation's population has reached 61.4 million and is growing fast.

"More people means more pollution, more pressure on the climate system," said Myers. "It means all kinds of adverse pressures."

Retired diplomat Sir Andrew Green, head of Migrationwatch UK, worried that the rising rates of immigration and fertility will take the U.K.'s population to 70 million within two decades, potentially making it the most populous and densely populated nation in Europe.