It is difficult to overstate the impact of the demographic changes that we are seeing and forecasting for these islands, with the young being replaced by the elderly.
Fewer schools needed; more old folks homes. Fewer births; more pensioners. Fewer incentives to stay here and bring up a family; more incentives to retire here.
Why is this happening?
I believe that it is very simple - those who leave to get a good education cannot find work back here when they graduate. We lose the majority of our most intelligent and able: my schoolmates are spread across the world with doctorates in this or that but with skills that cannot be used here.
That process is not new, but is increasing over time as the communications improve and as the ability to find jobs in Aberdeen, Glasgow or the Nigerian delta becomes easier and easier.
And then the incentive to return diminishes as the comparison between life here and life there comes into focus - better facilities, more options for the kids and easier access to more life choices.
And so the cycle perpetuates itself, heading into a death-spiral.
But how to break the cycle? Over-dependence on the public sector in all its forms is an immediate cause of the lack of opportunity, but there is a bigger underlying issue about bringing opportunities - skilled, unskilled and semi-skilled - here and the need for deliberate and sustained Political action to find remedies.
All the summits, meetings, and letters to Ministers may have done nothing more than possibly slow the decline, but the threat remains and needs urgent action. As a community, Harris is in an almost terminal state; Uist may come closer to terminal decline if the Rocket Range closes; Barra seems able to sustain and replace it's population; Lewis is fast becoming a retirement home where tourists come to see the quaint traditions of the locals.
Becoming the next St Kilda is still some time off, but moving into the grip of the black hole of depopulation from which there is no escape is coming closer and closer.