Thursday, January 25, 2007


North American environmentalists, it seems, are divided into two camps. One, the mainstream, thinks that slowing environmental degradation is exclusively a matter of lowering our level of consumption. The other, however, believes that both per capita consumption rates and the population levels are equally critical variables in calculating environmental impact.

The Green establishment doesn’t want to consider this however. To acknowledge that population growth is a crucial factor in environmental degradation would be to acknowledge that immigration is a crucial factor in environmental degradation—since immigration accounts for 70% of America’s population growth and almost two-thirds of Canada’s.

Mainstream Greens just don’t want to go there. They will readily talk about birth control or abortion—“reproductive choice”—or tax incentives for not bearing children. But the subject of immigration limits is taboo.

Instead, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, while head of the Sierra Club of Canada, condemned Paul Watson’s faction for their “fortress mentality” in trying to return Sierra Club USA to its former long-standing policy of supporting immigration cut-backs to stabilize US population levels. May in fact celebrates the entry of 300,000 or more new consumers into Canada annually while at the same time leading a party that speaks of Canada’s limited carrying capacity!

Mainstream Greens—soft greens—those in the Green Party, the NDP and extra-parliamentary organizations like the Sierra Club and the Suzuki Foundation, when pressed about the absurdity of wanting to cut per capita energy consumption in half but then turning around and supporting the doubling of our population via immigration---Canada’s population will be 70 million by century’s end if immigration levels persist---will invariably fall back on that old Canadian chestnut: “We have a moral responsibility to refugees.”

There you have it. When it comes down to the crunch, if you scratch a Green, you get a humanitarian. Someone more concerned about the secondary issue—man’s relationship to man—than the vital, primary and pressing issue—man’s relationship to nature. Beneath the thin green veneer there is a bleeding heart refugee advocate more concerned about “cultural diversity”—which Elizabeth May calls Canada’s great ongoing multicultural project—than biological diversity, which we are rapidly losing under the pressure of suburban sprawl and resource extraction from population pressures.

I have likened Canada to one of those fortunate lifeboats that managed to strike out from the suction of the sinking Titanic. Our boat is not, as some passengers believe, an aircraft carrier with seemingly limitless room for everyone. In fact, it has a viably safe limited carrying capacity and we have already exceeded it. The pity is that so many in the boat, especially the ones steering it, believe that we can pick up every poor wretch floundering in the frigid waters and that we have a moral responsibility to do so. The moral responsibility we have is NOT TO SWAMP THE DAMN BOAT. For our cargo is not only human, but the biodiversity which underpins our economy and enriches our lives.

Yes, we do not live in isolation from the world. But sinking our boat ---ruining our land from over-population and over-consumption—will help no one. Keeping it afloat, on the other hand, just might set an example for the few who will survive the catastrophes which will afflict us very soon.

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