Journalist Rod Liddle writing in today's 'Spectator' magazine claims that the UK is catastrophically overpopulated:
"If you live in the south-east of England you will already be familiar with the iniquities imposed by overpopulation: the railway network which collapses under the weight of numbers... the waiting list for treatment at your local hospital; the bulging school rolls... the incessant angry growl of traffic during the day, the eerily pale mauve night sky, deprived of its right to darkness by the street lights; the queues everywhere, for everything... You cannot water your garden because there is not enough of the stuff to go around... the strange re-occurrence of TB in our inner cities...the lack of community in your town... and the sense of alienation which this engenders; the loss of habitat for our indigenous wildlife."
He then goes on to state:
"We can be sure that Britain is one of the ten or 15 most crowded countries on earth..."
But this just isn't true - a brief search on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia reveals that the UK is in fact ranked 48th in the world for population density
Furthermore, the article is wrong in my opinion to blame 'overpopulation' for various social and environmental problems. The UK has 60 million acres, 1 for every person in the country. The 2001 National Census gives a figure of 21 million UK households - that's almost 3 acres per household (equivalent in size to an entire football pitch per household).
The real problem is the poor distribution of land ownership throughout the UK: 90% of the population of Britain live on just 10% of the land, with 69% of the UK's acreage owned by just 0.6% of the population (people like the Duke of Buccleuch who owns 270,900 acres).
The fact is that people naturally cluster together in cities, towns and villages - many like 'hustle and bustle', others prefer greater quiet and seclusion. The lack of community and sense of alienation, cited in the article as a consequence of overpopulation, has probably more to do with factors such as family breakdown: the 2001 census reported that 30% of all UK households are occupied by a single person.
The myth of overpopulation has a long history going back centuries. But the fact is that fertility rates in the UK (and across Europe) are falling: there were 1,014,700 births in Britain in 1964 compared with 716,000 in 2004. 1 in 5 British women do not have any children at all (compared to 1 in 10 a generation ago). The UK's low fertility rate ranks 153rd in the world
The UK has many problems and faces many challenges, but overpopulation isn't one of them.