Greens shame: Report finds mass immigration wrecking environment

By Leith van Onselen

Australia’s population growth has for more than a decade lead the world and is on track to nearly double the nation’s population mid-century to around 40 million people:

ScreenHunter_15116 Sep. 26 15.29

And this will be driven by annual population growth that is nearly twice as high as the post-war average, primarily due to mass immigration:

ScreenHunter_15907 Nov. 03 16.07

While this site often talks about the deleterious impacts of mass immigration on living standards in the big cities (think packed trains, worsening traffic congestion and reduced housing affordability), Australia’s natural environment is also being placed under acute strain, as noted by the latest federal government State of the Environment report. From The Conversation:

Australia’s population growth and economic activity continue to pose major environmental challenges, according to a comprehensive five-yearly stocktake of the country’s environmental health.

The federal government’s State of the Environment 2016 report (prepared by a group of independent experts, which I chaired), released today, predicts that population growth and economic development will be the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change…

We continue to lose agricultural lands through urban encroachment. Over the past five years land-clearing rates stabilised in all states and territories except Queensland, where the rate of clearing increased.

Coastal waterways are threatened by pollutants, including microplastics and nanoparticles…

Population growth in our major cities, along with Australia’s reliance on private cars, is leading to greater traffic volumes, which increase traffic congestion and delays as well as pollution…

This isn’t the first environmental study to draw the direct link between population growth and environmental degradation.

In 2010, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) called for Australia’s population to be stabilised and nominated human population growth as a “key threatening process” to Australia’s biodiversity.

Well-known environmentalist and former Australian of the Year recipient, Professor Tim Flannery, has estimated that the long-term human carrying capacity of the Australian continent and Tasmania might be as low as 8 million to 12 million people and has many times called for the nation’s population to be stabilised.

In 1994, when Australia’s population was just under 18 million, the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) convened a symposium on the future population of Australia. Its analysis was extended to Australia’s resources of water, minerals and arable land, and the interactions between present lifestyle and present environmental damage, and between future expectations and the costs of increasing population.

The AAS cautioned that “if our population reaches the high end of the feasible range (37 million), the quality of life of all Australians will be lowered by the degradation of water, soil, energy and biological resources” and concluded that “the quality of all aspects of our children’s lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid-21st Century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range, i.e. to approximately 23 million”. Just 22 years later, Australia has already breached 24 million, thus exceeding the AAS’ recommended maximum population.

International organisations and commentators, too, have raised alarm at population growth’s impacts on the environment.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has nominated human population growth as the key risk factor for endangered species, noting that “the current rate of extinctions is 100 times what would be considered normal without the impact of human activity… more of us means more of that” (see below graphic).

ScreenHunter_15830 Nov. 01 17.55

And recently, legendary documentary maker, David Attenborough, nominated population growth as the most fundamental issue facing the world.

The fact of the matter is that there are few better policy solutions to protect Australia’s environment than limiting population growth and abandoning plans for a ‘Big Australia’, which necessarily means significantly cutting immigration.

Australia’s birthrate of 1.8 is below replacement level and the nation’s population would stablise at 27 million by 2060 under zero net overseas migration, according to the Productivity Commission. By contrast, if current mass immigration setting are maintained, Australia’s population will exceed 40 million – a difference of at least 13 million people (see below chart).

ScreenHunter_15977 Nov. 09 07.44

The above does also highlight the complete and utter negligence of The Australian Greens. Despite their purported concerns for the environment, The Greens have remained deafly silent on Australia’s world-beating immigration program and have refused to argue the case publicly for a smaller and more sustainable population for Australia.

With the debate over immigration heating-up both in Australia and abroad, it is high time that The Greens live up to their name and advocate for a smaller population trajectory on behalf of Australia’s environment.

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Leith van Onselen
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    • After an hour, only two comments plus this one (EDIT: posted simultaneously with Malcolm below).
      One thing we can say, if Rich doesn’t comment on these low immigration threads, interest wilts.

  1. I am surprised they let me in 7 years ago. I wish I had remembered to shut the door behind me. 🙂

  2. Why am I a freeloader? IMO all contributors, paid up members and non members alike bring value to the blog. The reality is that some people can afford a subscription and some can’t. The owners are entitled to paywall the site, but don’t put labels on people. All successful social media sites are free to use and completely funded by advertising or data gathering sales.
    I won’t be posting on this site anymore if I’m going to carry a derogatory label.

    • Told you so. ??

      It’s all about ???

      Plus, the long pause before the labels appear means it’s yet another server access, more lag, more inefficiency

      • It is certainly quite fun to watch the labels slowly appear, particularly on a thread with lots of comments. Having said that, I’ve almost completely stopped looking at the weekend links because it takes too long to load all those comments on my phone- this will probably turn almost into just plain stopped.

      • Ah yes. Man does not live on bread alone, but with no bread at all, he is completely stuffed.

    • This is a great initiative. Somehow, I find that I instantly value the input of those who are committed enough to become members above those who just want a free download without supporting the work done by MB.

      • Non-members support simply by visiting, through advertising impressions.

        I find this a very disturbing train of thinking, apt to be horribly counterproductive. Look out for Pyrrhic victories here, bloggers,

      • From which it follows that 3d1k, who always subscribes, and is often banned before re-subscribing under an alternative avatar is the most valuable member of all.

      • R2M: Given that you are not a member, why should you have any say in how the service is run and delivered?

    • @malcolm
      Hard to imagine someone not able to afford $3.83 PW — and who enjoys sounding off 24/7.
      Hard to fathom – – – – –

    • Eh, it’s their site I guess. Kinda weird to be pulling down that information by making unauthenticated POST requests to admin-ajax.php though. I sure hope you guys are sanitising your inputs correctly…

  3. The Greens are simply nervous about being labelled racist. But they need to find their minuscule bollocks on this issue and take a stand.

    And recently, legendary documentary maker, David Attenborough, nominated population growth as the most fundamental issue facing the world.

    To whit: “”There is no problem on Earth that could not be solved quite easily if you could reduce world population.” David Attenborough 2012

    • Fine, but Australia’s NOM has no impact on global population, except possibly decreasing it slightly if the immigrant comes from an above replacement TFR country. Ultimately, reducing global population now depends on getting TFR to fall in the remaining nations who are not on track to have below replacement TFR within the next decade or two.

      • The electricity grid in AUS is powered by coal, immigrants should go to nations that have a cleaner grid or stay in the 3rd world and vote for Imran Khan.

    • The Greens are traitors. They emerged on the back of the strong environmental movement.. the Greenies to whom people donated so much in time money and life energy. The Greens have betrayed all the baseline supporters and still do.
      I recall my father giving out all his lifetime knowledge of forests, management and the Forestry, marketing and milling industry to the Green Movement, for Terrania Creek and Tasmania until he and his govt employed daughters were threatened by the govt with bankruptcy for him and loss of employment for the daughters. At the Big Forest money raising scam (not for the forest it turned out , but for the suits) the Greens lorded it over the intensely concerned supporters, mothers who had climbed trees, others who had chained themselves to dozers, idealistic young..and the actual environmentalists were just a nuisance to the Greens.
      Australia desperately needs a govt which loves her. As Pauline said. A govt with the intelligence to read the 23 million Sustianable population level and comprehend it. The so called stupid Pauline did and spoke of it.

    • Endless growth (and endless profit and wealth capture by the elite) in a finite, rent-seeking world would come undone if population growth was halted. Not to mention all the debt that could no longer be repaid and capital that would destroy were endless growth and money growth through fractional reserve banking and fiat currency pulled into line as a result

    • David said:
      I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.

  4. The Greens also subscribe to a world socialist resource redistribution view. i.e. let anyone who wants to share what we’ve got in. They support bringing more and more people to Australia to improve those immigrants’ standing of living. The negative effect on the existing population’s standard of living and the environment is relegated to insignificant. And they use labelling opponents as racist to draw attention away from their world socialist ideals.

    • That is what the EU is about: pumping well-run nations with more and more people from low-wage and badly run nations. The president of Europe hates borders but probably locks the front door of his house.

      Nice hypocrisy from him.

    • Socialism only really works with cultural homogeneity – it’s bound to fail with multiculturalism. We are a tribal species and happy to share with those who hold similar values. I’m not religious but know the West is built on Christian morals, enlightenment and free speech – if the West is to survive, it’s members need to adhere to those values.

      • Don’t give the Church a free pass. The Enlightenment was shaking the Church off and was built on the moral philosophy of free inquiry of the Ionians and Greece of antiquity rather than on any of the pastoralist myths from the Levant. It grates me when people reminisce about “Judeo-Christian” values. Europe spent a millenium in darkness while science and philosophy developed in the Middle-East. Like it or not religion is a mental poison that comes in multiple flavours.

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        “need to adhere to Christian values”.

        Too true – all those little boys need to stop whining – they should consider themselves lucky to be the priests’ chosen ones.

      • Kind of a twisting of words there Tom 🙂 I’m not sure Christian morals are in line with the way some priests act.


        I don’t give the church a free pass – just know that without Christianity the moral foundation would not have been laid for the enlightenment to take place. Interesting you mention Ionians, as, in my understanding, the Egyptian invention of monotheism with Aten would not have occurred without ancient Greek naturalists questioning the Pantheons. Our intellectual evolution involves the spiritual. NB this is not a claim that there is any tangible basis for spirituality and, taken to the nth degree, morals, love or any other emotional belief humans subscribe to, only an observation that that it seems to be as intrinsic to our development as knowledge.

    • Andrew yes and they shouldn’t be called Greens. They are socialists, part of the broad group from which the tyrants have emerged in western societies.

      • Yes, and unfortunately world socialists, not Oz-centred like Gough was. When the economy went pear shaped, he was smart enough to slash NOM as that was in Australian residents interests.

      • yes, and when Whitlam was in govt his supporters were left politically, but now without change are named as far right (i.e. nationalist, not globalist) ratbags who are against Aus invading other countries.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        They are socialists, part of the broad group from which the tyrants have emerged in western societies.

        LOL. Yes, that’s why they’re the ones who have created an extensive surveillance state, promote disenfranchisement, implement discriminatory and arbitrary laws, encouraged the wealthy and powerful to corrupt our political processes and signed us up for illegal wars over the last few decades.

        Oh, wait. That’s Opposites World again. Over here in Reality the Greens opposed all of that and largely stood alone in doing so.

  5. Just keep loading up families with debt and population problems will be solved. With both partners working it’s been “proven” that less babies are born. Trouble is it’s the 3rd world (Asia & Africa) that’s producing more people nowadays. I guess the thrust of the article is to keep them out of Australia.

  6. They are frothing at the mouth to do a Merkel. They should be banned as a grave security threat.

  7. Great article – truly reflects my own feelings on our country and knew I wasn’t crazy for imagining the change.

    When I was a teenager in Perth (mid 40s in Adelaide now) the Swan river was a bountiful source of prawns, the Mandurah estuary a source of crabs and Lancelin a source of crays. We all threw the little ones back, all of the time, because there were just so many, more than enough to go around. Looking at the graph there were around 16 mil people then, probably a nice sustainable amount.

    I’ve compiled some of my own Australian population graphs and it’s true that without immigration our population will either stabilise or slightly decline – but what’s so wrong with that? The neoliberal mantra of constant growth and inflation increase isn’t doing our country, or the world, any long term good. Material wealth and possessions will never make us as content as the natural world, space within it and being productive with our time.

    • Correct. Humans are shitting in their own nest.
      Organic growth is currently about 146,000 pa and that will continue for a couple of decades, until deaths rise to meet births. So even if net overseas migration was zero from tomorrow, with current fertility of 1.8 and demographic profile, there is still at least an embedded population increase of about 2 million from births minus deaths.

    • Absolutely, I recall the whole re-introduction of indexing of petrol excise. It made sense environmentally and economically and the Greens under Milne opposed it. It was all about posturing and not giving Abbott what he wants. Just shows that they have no coherent policy.

    • Don’t even get me started on their firearms policy. They want to turn me into a criminal and confiscate my firearms, so they’ll never in a million years get my vote. They’re idiots.

  8. The problem with the label is that it doesn’t reflect all the factions that make up the “Greens”. Right now they are rather a splinter of old labour that appeals to city white collar voters. As such it would be difficult to keep their base if they mishandled the message. Boat people are untouchable and any mention of limiting immigration outside of refugees is political poison. Two decades of populism since Howard has wrecked centrist pragmatism.

  9. The Greens live in a delusional world where they think population is completely irrelevant to carbon emissions because they think we can just make carbon emissions per person equal to zero. You just can’t make up stupidity like that.

    • Or maybe they just saw Leith’s graph above (“Australia’s Future Population Projections assuming a fixed level of NOM”) showing that zero net immigration still leads to a ~10% increase in population over the next 20 odd years, and no decline for around thirty years, so they figured reducing the per person carbon footprint was vital, irrespective of the NOM situation.