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August 07, 2007

An Environmentalist Talks About The Need For Patriotic Immigration Reform

Posted in: Environment, Population Growth

“On Tuesday, July 31, I spoke about immigration and the environment to a group of homeschoolers and parents at Santa Clara University (which calls itself “the Jesuit university in Silicon Valley”). The kids were participating in the Homeschool Summer Debate Workshop, a yearly affair to bring homeschoolers together to learn debating skills and mix it up some.”

An Environmentalist Talks About The Need For Patriotic Immigration Reform
August 6, 2007

Let me tell you just a bit about where I’m coming from on the subject of immigration, because it is a complex, controversial and easily misunderstood topic.

My awakening came on March 19, 1996, and was a true lightning bolt. My eyes were opened as never before as I watched the House of Representatives on C-SPAN and heard Rep. Tony Beilensen, a Democratic from southern California, speak the following words on the floor of Congress:

Middle range Census Bureau projections show our population rising to nearly 400 million by the year 2050, an increase the equivalent of adding 40 cities the size of Los Angeles. But many demographers believe it will actually be much worse, and alternative Census Bureau projections agree: if current immigration trends continue, the population will exceed half a billion by the middle of the next century.” [PDF 1 2]

My jaw literally dropped in shock and horror—I had no idea the situation was that extreme. I immediately understood that all we environmentalists had worked for—plentiful resources, open spaces, clean air, species protection—would be swept away in an overpopulated America.

I felt something like a religious calling to become active in restricting immigration in order to preserve a recognizable country—now and for the future. I knew that our uniquely influential nation—and therefore the planet—was in serious danger and I had to do something in my own small way.

Domestic overpopulation does have serious environmental consequences which we see at the local level. In California, explosive population growth in the last three decades is almost entirely due to immigrants and illegal aliens, and their children.

We Californians may soon face mandatory water restriction after just one year of below-average rainfall here in the north. If there is not substantial rain in November and December, officials may call for rationing around the first of the year—just a guess on my part.

In the late 1970s, California had a moderate drought, and after 2-3 years duration, severe restrictions were mandated. Residents were advised to take short showers, water their gardens with previously-used “grey” water saved from washing machines, etc and put a brick in the toilet tank to lessen by displacement the water used per flush.

Parts of Marin County ran out of water. There was a large pipe hung on the Richmond Bridge that carried water from the East Bay reservoirs to Marin.

The difference between then and now is the number of state residents. In 1977, California’s population was fewer than 23 million. Today just 30 years later, the state is home to over 38 million residents. That huge growth of 15 million people is equal to the population of the whole state in 1960 (actually 15.7m).

If the rains don’t come, Californians will have to ration water far earlier than would have been necessary before immigration became a flood. Natural resources are finite, and there’s only so much that technology can do to shield us from that basic fact.

And our beautiful state continues to be rapidly paved over for a destructive level of growth. The Department of Finance predicts there will be 60 million residents in California by 2050. That’s unimaginable.

Places like California are glittering magnets to foreigners around the world, from TV, movies and word of mouth. The state has jobs where English is not required and provides many taxpayer-funded services for immigrants and illegal aliens, plus there are enormous Hispanic communities, where ethnic groups can congregate and be around those who share their language and culture.

Those attractions are considered pull factors. On the other end of the scale are the push factors that make people want to leave where they are—unemployment, poverty, war and ethnic strife.

These problems are all exacerbated by explosive worldwide population growth—which is the 800-pound gorilla in the room of public policy. The effects of over six and a half billion people living on the planet are little recognized, even though the symptoms are discussed daily in issues from climate change to the conflict in Darfur.

Global population growth today is without precedent. We are going into territory where no human society has gone before. 1960 is a year which some in this room can remember, the year when John Kennedy was elected President. In that year, the population of this planet was three billion people. In 1999, the world population odometer flipped over to 6 billion—an astonishing doubling in just 4 decades.

Today, that number has continued to increase. World population now is over six billion six hundred million, and still rising. Many of those people are poor and would like a better life. In reality, almost five billion people live in countries that are poorer than Mexico, where the average per capita gross domestic product is lower than the Mexican mean of $9,600.

Overpopulation is behind many wars because of conflict over increasingly scarce resources like water and food production, but you never hear that aspect reported as part of the analysis. But the phrase “resource war” will likely become more common in coming years……

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