It is not so much the absolute change that is the scary factor, and more the relative ageing of the population that poses such a threat the future economic viability of the islands.
The curve is more a death spiral, with - for instance - future school provision requirements looking to be grossly over-estimated at the moment. There will be fewer pupils attracting smaller grant support to pay for ageing and more expensive buildings.
The lack of economic development in the islands is a very major issue. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it may be the potentially terminal issue if it is not addressed. For without economic growth there won't be the children to fill the schools or build new businesses or inherit their parent's hard work.
When was the last time that the Scottish Government announced something positive for the future economy of the islands?
Just this week we are told to be grateful for the reinstatement of single-journey fares for hay lorries and vivier tanks. A discount that should never have been abolished, and we are expected to cheer to the rafters when
Businesses cannot plan if they cannot be sure about the future. With commercial RET up and down like the proverbial, how can long term investment be secured, when the Government doesn't know (or won't say) if a policy is staying, going, being amended or "out to consultation".
My good lady wife is away this week meeting with large existing clients to discuss extending the services we provide. This has huge potential, not least as the clients are keen to see what we can do.
But as it is a business flight, there is no ADS available, increasing fares by 167% which is just enough of an impediment to make us consider if the journey is really necessary. We are trying to win work for the islands, but Government cost-cutting is affecting our ability to create employment.
I know of one large capital investment that has been cancelled, as the additional costs for transporting building materials have tipped the balance - and that was in the service sector. How is affecting those who have to use the large hauliers as a matter of course?
Incoming Councillors must be forced to pledge to continue the fight against this policy before it drives the economy, and the future of the islands, over the edge.
Update: I can't use specifics for professional reasons, but Ian MacIver can.
Update 2: I'm told that the poor truaghan Alasdair Allan has resorted to telling hauliers that tale that full RET will be reintroduced in an Independent Scotland. Presumably with the choice of gold or silver cutlery in the dining room.