Friday, February 2, 2007


You say you’re OK with the idea of reducing our population. But you are not comfortable with immigration cut-backs. Birth control, more abortion services, tax incentives for fewer children are fine. But your parents, or grand-parents, or friends are immigrants and by the way, aren’t mine too?

The problem is, all the measures you would agree to would do little to reverse population growth in North America. Immigration accounts for 70% of American population growth and two-thirds of Canada’s. Without immigration, population in both countries levels off. If immigration persists at current rates, the USA will see 700 million citizens and Canada 70 million by century’s end.

But you’re just not comfortable about dealing with immigration in a country of 32 million people. Will you be comfortable dealing with it when we reach Jack Layton’s goal of 40 million—shared by other federal leaders?

Will you be comfortable with no immigration freeze at 50 million? 60 million?

At what point would you be willing to concede that we had exceeded our carrying-capacity in Canada? DO YOU EVEN ACCEPT THAT WE HAVE A “CARRYING CAPACITY” IN CANADA?”

According to Millenium Assessment findings 60% of 24 ecosystem services were being degraded unsustainably over the past 50 years. There is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and ecosystem services and between economic growth and biodiversity conservation. Economic growth is a function of population level and per capita consumption.

You say you want to reduce consumption. Great. But you apparently want to take population growth out of the equation. Absurd. Paul Ehrlich’s old “IPAT” formula still applies. When assessing environmental impact, its I (Impact)= P(Population)X A(Affluence or Consumption) X T for Technology. Biologist Neil Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, in the most optimistic guess I’ve read, said that biodiversity could probably subsist alongside Canada’s current population of 32 million---if we consumed at the level we did in 1950. Do you think that’s likely?

You speak of hybrid cars, solar panels, windmills and retro-fits. How far toward 1950 will that get us? And when Jack Layton’s dream comes true—very shortly—and we have 40 million Canadians, will we then need to consume at the level of 1935? How “green” would consumers have to get to erase the damage that that extra 8 million consumers will inflict on the environment?

And we haven’t yet talked about that great sacred cow of Canadian political discourse---REFUGEES.

Oh dear me, we can’t keep them out, can we?

OK then, how many? The UN says there are 50 million right now. How many of these are we going to take in? 1 million? 5 million? 10 million? That’s just for starters. Along comes global warming and rising sea levels. Al Gore says that around the city of Shanghai alone 40 million people will be displaced. Multiply that a hundred times around the world. Where will your bleeding heart take us then?

You call yourself an “environmentalist”. Your politics are “green”. But your concern for people obviously takes priority over your self-proclaimed concern for nature. Trouble is, nature is in the driver’s seat. Whatever number of people you want to admit to Canada is academic. It’s what the ecosystem will sustain. And with 32 million people, it’s not bearing up very well. To repeat , 60% of 24 ecosystem “services” are degraded. Your human rights agenda will come right up against biodiversity collapse. Its called a “Limiting Factor”.

There is a limit, yes even in Canada, to population growth and to the economic growth it propels. And when push comes to shove, there will also be a limit to our compassion. Or to put it another way, our compassion toward the world will no longer come at the expense of our compassion to our own families, our community, our own nation, and the biodiversity that sustains us all.

So the ball’s in your court, soft green. You won’t face up to the need for population stabilization. You would prefer runaway population growth to immigration cut-backs and an open-ended refugee policy without regard to the environmental consequences of such a course. Apparently, for you, the sky’s the limit. All we need do is be good little “green” consumers and reduce our footprint just a little bit more for each new entrant to the country.

Now tell me how this is all supposed to work. How is biodiversity supposed to co-exist with 40, 50, 70 million Canadian consumers, however “green” they are? How do you reduce green-house emissions when you substantially increase the population. Tony Blair’s bold plan was to reduce emissions with tough new standards by 20% over 10 years. Instead, emissions increased 3% ! Why? Because although factories and cars spewed less noxious gas, economic and population growth increased the number of factories and cars! Back to square one! Numbers do matter.

Until you cope with these questions, soft green, you are, in my estimation, a counterfeit green.

And in your estimation I am, no doubt, all of those nasty adjectives in the politically correct lexicon—a callous, xenophobic, misanthropic, deep ecologist with a fortress mentality and a hidden “racist” agenda. It’s OK. I’m used to it. The race card always gets played when all other arguments fail. I’m inclined to believe that what was said of patriotism is true of anti-racism—it’s the last refuge of scoundrels.


Richard said...

It's simple. Anyone who wants to allow more people into Canada should give up their share of the pie. They should house them, feed them, pay for them. They have NO RIGHT whatsoever to ram that down my throat.

This notion is of course absurd. It compeletly violates the human rights of people here, classic case of conflicting human rights.

Why would anyone want to give up the rights of their own family for people who they don't even know?

How do these people even know that those they want to bring in would not kill the very bleading hearts to get what they want?

If this means I'm racist then so be it. I would rather be racist and protect my own family, protect the people here, than to cower to a label.


ericbwalton said...

The fundamental error in the position advanced by Tim Murray in his "Canada The Sinking Lifeboat" anti-immigration position is the idea that Canada could thrive ecologically (let alone socially!) as a nation state version of the "gated community".

Sorry to burst that bubble but the ecological "lifeboat" that will be swamped (or not ) is the planet in its entirety. It would be more accurate to view Canada as an integral piece of the ecological lifeboat that is Earth. National borders will not protect us from the many impacts of climate change and environmental breakdown (not to mention conflict!).

We had better focus our full efforts on addressing the dangerous combination of global population growth combined with the increasing imitation/export of our high consumption "Western" development model or we are all in very big trouble.

Circling the Canadian wagons and looking inwards to a misguided notion of self-interest will effectively remove Canada from any possibility of playing an effective international role in advancing vital global ideas and effort. I'm afraid Its "Global or Bust", anything else is a delusion of national security.

Eric Walton - former Green Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Shadow Cabinet Critic and current GPC SC Industry Critic .

Richard said...

Eric, you are making a fundemental flaw in your logic. That Canada needs to be actively involved in trying to change other people in the world. We can't, and in fact to do so will make matters worse (see below). We first must show within our selves that we are serious about changing environmental destruction due to population growth. If we close our boarders and say to the world "We are taking the responsble effort to preserve our natural resources, preserve natural habitats by not allowing any more immigration and controling our population." then we will show the rest of the world what they must also do. Control their population. By allowing a shuffling of population around the world in an effort to side step the planet's carrying capacity will ulitmately make matters much worse in the long run.

It might "SOUND" good and feel good to want to help the people's of the world, but it's misguided. Here is a prime example of that misguided effort.

The past 40 years of pumping aid into Africa has actually made them worse off. Their per capita GDP is HALF what it was 40 years ago. Why? Because the only thing our aid has done is make Africa more populated with more impoverished people.

If we do not stop the increase in human population we will hit the carrying capacity wall and we will have a huge collpase of civilization, and it will be within the lifetime of the young people living today, maybe sooner.

I find it strange that the "green" movement of the 1960s hammered this very message, yet today it is completely absent.