Friday, March 30, 2007


When the media gushed over the Census report released in mid-March, of all the letters that were written to challenge the conventional wisdom and religion of population growth in Canada, did you see a single one authored by a representative of the Sierra Club or indeed of ANY so-called environmental organization in this country? Neither did I. The biggest ecological disaster that is facing us and they say nothing. Kind of reminds me of anti-poverty groups in the Deep South in the 1950’s who had nothing to say about segregation. Biodiversity loss and the disappearance of farmland in the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and elsewhere in Canada to population growth is self-evident and they remain silent. This is a scandal. Like me, Brishen Hoff of London, Ontario had questions. Questions like the ones I had put to the Sierra Club, but were ignored. Hoff’s questions were these:

1. Do you believe there is a correlation between population growth and environmental degradation in Canada? If so, why doesn’t your public policy recognize this connection and suggest what to do about it?
2. How many million people do you think is ecologically sustainable for Canada?
3. If Canada is beyond a safe-carrying capacity, would you advocate reducing population growth by stopping immigration?
4. Can you think of any disadvantages with our present practice of forcing population growth in Canada to stimulate the economy? If so, what?
5. Who are your top 10 Sierra Club of Ontario’s highest paid employees and what are their salaries?

As one might expect, Hoff was stonewalled. When he persisted with his questions, they interpreted it as harassment. They could have instead made Sierra Club history and just answered his questions. Loretta Allen of the Ontario Chapter termed Hoff’s commitment to population issues his “pet cause” that deserved no more consideration than anyone else’s cause, and there are many in the Sierra Club that different people deem crucial. “Not everyone’s pet cause is immigration and population control. Just because it’s yours doesn’t mean it has to be everyone’s,” she said. In other words, while we’re on board the HMS Ecological Titanic don’t harass me or the crew about your “pet cause”-- the iceberg you see looming straight ahead-- because my cause is to manage the kitchen, someone else must run the boiler-room, some else’s cause is to clean the cabins, etc. We all have our causes and they are all important to us so don’t bother me with questions about why we are ignoring an iceberg which I don’t want to see and if it exists it’s only a problem in some distant shore. So take me off your email list.
Hear no evil. See no evil. Just shut up and send in your donations to save Rudolph the Rocky Mountain Cariboo, but don’t ask why his habitat is really threatened. And if people pour into our country by the millions, well, just reduce your “footprint”. With “smart” growth, we can shoe-horn the whole damn world into this place without ecological consequences because apparently if everyone lives in a highrise, rides a bike, drives a hybrid car, uses fluorescent bulbs and becomes a vegetarian, there will be no consumers in Canada. Consume less so we can keep adding more consumers. The lengths to which these hypocrites will go before they acknowledge the iceberg is amazing.
Brishen Hoff summarized the Sierra Club response this way: “You call yourselves environmental protectors and yet you still have your head in the sand. You refuse to discuss the worst ecological problem in Canadian history: overpopulation and continued population growth. You distance yourself from this problem by saying it’s only a global problem, something in India or China, but not here. I guess this is your business strategy. If you keep the public in the dark by avoiding Canada’s overpopulation problem, you will have plenty more environmental problems resulting from continued population growth as new industrial developments destroy more habitat; helping you attain more donations from your dumbed-down followers. Your replies have only confirmed my suspicions—the Sierra Club is a corrupt organization that only cares about political correctness, procuring donations, and holding their cushy salaried positions.”
It could be put another way. The Sierra Club is a cowardly, chicken-shit, head-in-the-sands, feel-good, yuppie organization chasing peripheral safer targets rather than addressing the root cause of environmental degradation in North America, human population growth, that in tandem with over-consumption, make for a lethal brew. Address both problems, or you address neither.
In posing his probing questions to Sierra Club officials Brishen Hoff did the unforgivable. He challenged their self-image as noble and self-less green crusaders and for that impertinence he was told to drop them from his email list or be subjected to a spam filter. Well, the Sierra Club can ignore Brishen Hoff and his “pet cause”, but they won’t be able to indefinitely ignore the biodiversity limits to runaway population growth. One day it will catch up with them, and make their trivial pursuit of marginal issues seem in retrospect like a criminal misuse of membership time and money. Try getting an email program to “filter out” the total collapse of biodiversity services that will fall under the weight of another ten million new Canadians which their former leader, Elizabeth May, will welcome with open arms. One can only wonder at what point the Sierra Club would finally sound the alarm. 42 million? 52 million? 62 million?

Monday, March 26, 2007


Reviewing what I have written, Brishen Hoff of London, Ontario, summarized my position concisely. It is a position he shares and has articulated with equal passion at On March 26/07 he wrote:

“Immigrants may have ‘built this country’ but this country doesn’t need any more building. We have already paved over the most biodiverse treasures our country had to offer. Our lifeboat is full and adding passengers (immigrants account for 2/3 of Canada’s present population growth) will compromise our ability to survive the resource scarcities of the very near future. At this point, there is no more sustainable development or ‘smart’ growth. They are oxymorons.”

You need read no further. That essentially is what this blog is about.


The Sierra Club is a corrupt money grab organization full of sheep/puppets who ultimately prop up the status-quo and CEOs of corporations who benefit from the pyramid scheme of population growth. The Sierra Club even got a $100 million donation by a rich corporate donor David Gelbaum in exchange for not appearing as anti-immigration and thereby supporting more population growth in the USA. This was why informed and more altruistic members split away from the organization and started their own: Sustainable Population Society
Brishen Hoff, March 26/07

Brishen Hoff's blog addresses the imminent peril of continued population growth at


Geraldine Kenny,
Sierra Quadra
March 23/07

Re. Your request for membership renewal

In the past several months, I have sent letters to the Sierra Club critical of their campaigns and their approach. I have told them that they have failed to provide any leadership on the issue of balancing the human footprint with the rest of nature. I have asked for answers. None of the recipients have bothered to reply. Like the NDP, the Sierra Club appears to want passive members who will pay their dues and make donations to save the habitats of their poster animal of the month.
What I require is a mission statement. Something like: “ Sierra Quadra recognizes the limited context for human expansion on earth and that any further population growth will displace wildlife and be self-defeating for Canada’s human inhabitants.” Because long-term environmental protection alongside human population growth is physically impossible.
Rampant human population growth in Canada is concentrated in those ecoregions where most of our country’s rare and endangered species of wildlife live. Ten species of mammals not found elsewhere in Canada are threatened by growth in the Fraser Delta, which is now covered by 20% in buildings, excluding greenhouses and covered farms. Wildlife and farms in the Okanagan Valley are also meeting their holocaust to this malignant cancer. The Sierra Club, along with the David Suzuki Foundation and every other environmental organization save one, simply will not acknowledge the role that population growth plays in environmental degradation. They will not address root causes but only the symptoms. They will not face up to the need for a Population Policy in Canada. Nationally and locally. The Fraser Basin Study of 1997 made a grim assessment of the environmental damage done to biodiversity and concluded that a population policy was needed to secure environmental protection across the country. In May of 2001 the Population Institute of Canada presented a parliamentary committee with a similar report.
Until the Sierra Club supports this effort, I will deploy my money and energy to those organizations that will effectively pursue the goal of population stabilization. They are, the Population Institute of Canada, and the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society headed by Captain Paul Watson. Watson was the man Sierra Club Canada president Elizabeth May tried to malign and misrepresent when he attempted to return Sierra USA to its former commitment to that policy.
I leave you with two questions and one quote. The first question is, if we are having trouble saving wolves and cougars with an island population of 3,500 people, how do you think these animals would fare if we tripled our numbers? Secondly, Saltspring Island has 27,000 residents---do they have any wolves and cougars to save? People will not tolerate cougars and wolves in their neighbourhoods. People must be kept where they belong. Environmentalist Steve Hoecker:

“It does no good to preach that we should not destroy habitat or that we should reserve more open space. When push comes to shove, we are going to clear more land to build houses, plant more acres to crops, build roads to carry an increased traffic load, create more jobs as well as a host of other habitat-destroying activities in order to provide for an ever-increasing number of people. Each year we convert more wildlands and open space to human-dominated landscapes to provide for human needs. It can be no other way as long as our populations continue to grow. We continue to attack the symptoms, not the underlying cause.” (from “When More is Less”, Hunting Magazine, Dec.1996)


Forgive me for using a tired old metaphor, but it's the only one that comes to mind. We are all on board the HMS Ecological Titanic. In my former life, when I was a socialist, before I saw the iceberg, I was concerned about the plight of the people in steerage, especially since a lot of them were of my dad's stock, poor Irish immigrants. I dreamed of re-organizing the ship so as to eliminate 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, and of replacing the captain. But now I see the iceberg looming dead ahead, and I'm screaming to get somebody's attention. The officers aren't interested in hearing from me--in fact, they want to silence me for causing undue alarm. My comrades in third class aren't too concerned either, there may be an iceberg out there, but it’s more important that they receive more equitable service and accommodation on the ship. There are, however, four or five men who share my worry, and as luck would have it, one votes Conservative, one Liberal and two are apolitical. But we need to collaborate to form a delegation to petition the captain and raise the alarm. Left/right dichotomies don't matter so much when your ship is about to sink. Nor do issues of social justice. The iceberg in our case is over-population. The ship is planet earth. The passengers are 6.5 billion human beings and the millions of plant and animal species that we threaten to take down with us.
The relationship between man and nature must take priority over the relationship between men. Human activity is just a subset of the biosphere. Without healthy biodiversity or a livable atmosphere, both compromised by runaway population growth, were are dead. And there is obviously no social democracy on a dead planet. Where once my slogan had been “People before Profits”, now it must be “Nature before People”.
Our first order of business is not only to reduce our footprint, but our numbers. As James Lovelock said, if we had the population we had in the eighteenth century, it wouldn’t matter what our energy source was. The same point was made more colourfully by Manitoban Buster Welch when he said that “It’s OK to shit in a river or drive an SUV if you’re the only one doing it. But if a million people do it, you have a problem. That’s over-population.”
We must keep our focus and our eye on the ball.


Immigration is religion in Canada. It is simply part of our culture. To challenge immigration policy in Canada is equivalent to a Saudi Arabian proposing to introduce pork and alcohol to his society, or an Iranian publicly declaring that there is no Allah. A look at the internet confirms this. There are over a hundred websites in the United States dedicated to the advocacy of immigration reduction and population stabilization. In Canada I’ve found three.
The immigrant is celebrated as a hero. He is folklore. Every Canadian family has an immigrant story. For mine, it was the grandfather who arrived in Toronto at 17 to work his way across the Prairies doing hard farm labour, only to arrive in Vancouver in 1908 with just $5 in his pocket. He went on to build three homes, raise four kids and have six grandchildren. My Icelandic great-grandparents arrived in Winnipeg in 1885, and wisely bypassed Gimli to build a house in the mild climate of Victoria the following year---the house still stands today as a heritage house. They came with no English, funny clothes, a different cuisine and a strong work ethic, a familiar formula for Canadian success. That was a century ago but there are still New Canadians made of similar stuff.
I met an Iranian man who went AWOL from the Army during the murderous war with Iraq, trekked overland through Kurdish territory and into Turkey, where he was jailed and badly beaten. Some how he made it to Vancouver and of course, was penniless. Five years later he was running three gas stations.
Then there was “Richard”, who drove his “beater” up to the Canadian border in the Kootenays when he was 18 to escape the Vietnam draft. The Canadian border guard told him to turn around, but when he was distracted, Richard floored it and escaped into our country never to be apprehended. He found friends, work, learned a trade and raised a family. Good on him. In Nelson a monument was built to commemorate the contribution made by American war-resisters like him to West Kootenay society.
The most impressive immigrant I ever encountered was a gentleman in his late 80’s who lived in my father’s care home. He had been the son of kulaks in Ukraine when they were murdered by Red soldiers. He was trained in auto-mechanics and drafted into the Soviet Army when war broke out. Promoted to captain, he survived some harrowing tank battles to be posted to the British sector in Berlin at war’s end as a liaison officer. He made contact with Canadian officials and was accepted for passage to Canada as an immigrant. As an auto-mechanic he was employed by the Ford Motor Company for ten years where worked hard and long and saved feverishly. Then he took the gamble and set up his own auto-mechanics shop in Toronto. He built up a loyal customer base and then came his biggest break, he secured the Volvo franchise for the city. He retired a multi-millionaire and moved to Vancouver. So from a poor orphan in Stalin’s Russia to a multi-millionaire—are these not the kind of people our hearts belong to!
As a footnote, when my mother arrived at the dinner table, this little Ukrainian man with a broad Russian accent, jumped up like a jack-in-the-box, bowed and took her hand and kissed it. Underneath the millionaire, he was still a Soviet officer.
How can we not admire such people, people that overcome so much adversity to get here and then make the most of their opportunities? Statistically we know that immigrants are better educated and less likely to commit crimes, and anecdotally, don’t we suspect that the typical immigrant is harder working and a better citizen than those of us who were born here? The common refrain is that immigrants built this country. That is undeniable. They are still building it.
But the question is, how much building remains to be done? At what point do we say that we have over-built? The carpenter who built my house did a fine job and I thank him very much for doing it. But the job is finished. No more additions are needed to be made. None that is, that don’t come at the expense of the property itself, of the trees and shrubs and the birds that nest and perch in them.
What was needed in 1885 when my great-grandparents came to Manitoba is not needed now. Icelandic fishermen are not needed to fish Lake Winnipeg. Irish Catholic miners are not needed to mine the silver mines of Rossland, B.C. as my grandparents did in 1907. The perceived needs of the labour market of 2007 will not be the needs of the post-carbon world decades from now. What Garrett Hardin said of America can be said of this country. “There is no rational excuse for encouraging an immigration rate that was appropriate to, and beneficial in, our juvenile phase.” Yet we are still captives of a cult that belongs to a bygone day---the era of mass immigration.
We have yet to formulate a Population Policy for Canada. Its development has been advocated and promoted by several people and groups for decades, but Ottawa has never listened. John Meyer of Zero Population Growth Canada proposed it in the late seventies, but no one listened. Twenty-three academics led by Professor Michael Healy of UBC were commissioned by the federal government in 1997 to conduct a $2.4 million study into the environmental damage to the Fraser Basin wrought by population growth. The report recommended that Ottawa construct a Population Plan for the country and that provinces comply with it. The report was left to gather dust and now 20% of the Fraser Delta is covered by buildings, excluding greenhouses and covered farms, and 10 species of mammals exclusive to that region face extinction. The Population Institute of Canada followed suit with a presentation to a parliamentary committee in May of 1991 proposing the development of a Population Plan for this country. We still haven’t got one.
We have yet to define what our carrying capacity is. How many people can our environment sustain indefinitely? Preliminary evidence suggests we have long gone past that point of sustainability. Only when we have established our carrying capacity can we then fit in our “economic” requirements. It is irrelevant how many immigrants we need to support an aging population, or how many are needed to fill key areas, or how many refugees Stephen Lewis thinks we have a moral responsibility to accept. It’s what our environment can indefinitely sustain. Period.
Until then, it would be prudent to declare an immigration moratorium, just because two-thirds of all current population growth comes from this source and soon it will be the only driver of growth. We must therefore, regrettably, restrict the intake of people of high moral caliber such as those examples I cited. Because this is not about immigrants. It’s about numbers. It’s not reflection upon the outstanding qualities of the people left standing outside the gate or a judgment of their worth.
Recently I attempted to board a B.C. Ferry. I arrived five minutes before departure and my car was third in the queue waiting for the signal to drive aboard. I waited and prayed. The entrance guard motioned for the first car to come forward. It just squeezed on. The guard turned, then crossed his arms to convey the message that there was no more room for us. Did this indicate that the Ferry Corporation was “anti-passenger”? No. Only that the car-deck was full and I had arrived too late at the terminal. I am not “anti-immigrant”. I am simply against more immigration.
The safest course for Canada’s environment is to assume that our boat is already full and to effect an immediate freeze on immigration. And then begin an inventory of current biodiversity—a State of the Union Address---and establish its tolerance for more people. That is, articulate a definition of Canada’s carrying capacity.
But given the Canadian cult of immigration, and the deification of the immigrant, this may never be politically realistic. For the sake of all of Canada’s passengers, both human and non-human, one can only keep trying.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Re. “Immigration policy debate lacking” (CP story Tuesday, March 13/07)

Mr.Cheadle, if ever such a debate was to take place:

a. It would be too late. The environmental damage has been done.
b. The “debate” would likely be moderated by a CBC journalist and the panelists would be an economist from the Royal Bank, Stephen Lewis, someone from the Laurier Institute or the Ethnocultural Council and a Liberal senator. Biologists, ecologists, analysts like Richard Embleton, authentic environmentalists like Paul Watson, or passionate animal rights advocates like Farley Mowat would not have a voice. The words “carrying capacity” or “biophysical limits” will never enter the conversation. The staggering loss of biodiversity and farmland to population growth in Canada would never be mentioned.

Instead, all we would hear about would be our job requirements, our aging population, and most of all, our moral obligation to draw from a bottomless pit of refugees. In other words, the discussion would be all about what economists and bleeding hearts want rather than what our environment can sustain.

All debates in Canada are constrained by Political Correctness and the Thought Police in the CBC and other media outlets will filter out any input that fails to meet their narrow test of political acceptability. In Canada it s now socially outrageous to speak the truth---that, for example, government-induced growth is not working.

So panelists and talk-show guests are hand-picked to conform to the State Ideology, the ideology shared by all the parties and the chattering classes, despite their superficial differences. All of them repeat the mantra---“Growth is good”, “Immigration is good”, “All refugees should be accepted”.

And when the Census Report reveals that we have indeed grown beyond all expectations, the media gushes. Therefore we know it to be true. Growth is good.

And if the media says so, why do we need the debate?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Lorne Calvert,
Premier of Saskatchewan.
March 14/07.

Re. The latest census report:

I wish to offer my hearty congratulations to you, your government and your province, for once more lowering your population level. This is an achievement for the whole country and the whole world to emulate. At 6.5 billion people, the planet is anywhere between three and six times beyond its carrying capacity. The best assessment is a 20% “over-shoot”.
Canada itself has been estimated by one educated observer to be over-populated by a factor of four to ten. Some say that we can viably support only 6 million people in the long term. The most optimistic guess was provided by Dr. Neil K. Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, who said that Canada might sustain its current population if we consumed at 1950 levels. But if we grow to 40 million, we will have to go back to 1935 levels.
For too long growth-a-holics have driven our population agenda, and the question has always been what our economy requires rather than what our environment can sustain. Never has “carrying capacity”, “sustainability” or “biophysical limits” been part of the conversation. Now along comes the census report and the media act as cheerleaders for growth while ordinary Canadians suffer more pollution, more congestion, more crime, unaffordable housing, subdivided farmland and diminished biodiversity.
Saskatchewan is cited as a “loser” in the census count, while the media anoints B.C. a “winner”. Let me assure you, speaking as a British Columbian, you are the winner. Fewer people, a healthier environment and a higher quality of life. We do not live in an “economy”. We live in a biosphere, of which the economy is only a subset. Continue to degrade biodiversity services as we have done through unrelenting population growth and the economic forces it unleashes and you undercut the human economy. We foul our own nest. We must relieve the pressure. That’s just what you’ve done. Good work. Keep it up.


In an email dated March 9/07, you state, in reply to your constituent Brishen Hoff, that “equitable production, consumption and distribution patterns often have more to do with generating environmental degradation than the impact of population growth.”
Really? I’m sure the U.N. would like to know how. They have estimated the global population to be 20% in “over-shoot”. Paul Ehrlich’s most hopeful estimate is that we are over-populated by 4.5 billion. Some experts say planet Earth cannot sustain more than a billion people without oil. The numbers are a matter of contention. The fact of over-population and its fatal impact on biodiversity is not.
I’ve read one estimate that we in Canada are over-populated by a factor of four to ten. An optimistic guess was made by esteemed biologist Dr. Neil K. Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, known for his studies on sustainability. Dawe said that Canada’s environment could viably support its current population level of 32 million if we returned to the level of consumption we “enjoyed” in 1950. Add the 8 million new Canadians that Jack Layton wants to add to that total through immigration and we would likely have to consume at 1930’s levels to protect natural capital. Do you think contemporary Canadians would give up their toys to do that? And where would all the extra bodies live? The Arctic Tundra? The Canadian Shield? The Rocky Mountains? No, on the last vestiges of remaining arable land outside of our major cities.
The Fraser Valley is perfect example of this kind of demographic impact. Ten years ago Ottawa paid $2.4 million to have 23 UBC academics conduct The Fraser Basin Ecosystem Study. They catalogued the devastating impact that population growth has had on the valley’s native plants, fish, aquifers, rural streams, soils and wildlife with the conversion of wetlands to farms, and then ironically, farms to subdivisions. They concluded that the population level of the region was three times greater than what the ecosystem could sustain. They found that population is central to sustainability and that government cannot pursue sustainability and at the same time ignore population. The study group recommended that Ottawa adopt a population policy for Canada “that is consistent with the principles of sustainability”, and that the provincial government likewise adopt a population policy as one of the foundations of social policy for sustainable development. Trouble is, as principal investigator Professor Michael Healey observed, “no one wants to talk about population policies…if anyone raises it, they are accused of racism.” Things haven’t changed much in ten years, have they? The difference between Dr. Healey and Jack Layton is that Dr. Healey is chasing down the scientific facts while Jack is chasing the votes of ethnic Toronto and Vancouver. What should govern our population policy is not what our economy requires, but what our environment can sustain, not how many immigrants the ethnocultural council wants or how many refugees Stephen Lewis wants but how many our environment can sustain. Period.
So what has population growth done to Canada and the world? According to Millenium Assessment Studies it has compromised 60% of 24 biodiversity services so critical to our survival. Thirty-three trillion dollars worth of services like replenishing aquifers, filtering water and replacing topsoil. Without these services our “ human” economy would die. Climate change is a canyon that cuts across our highway, but it is still fifty miles down the road. The collapse of biodiversity services is very much closer than that.
You cite Simon DeJong as an environmental champion way back in 1983. Well, way back in 1972 we BC New Democrats passed resolutions in favour of stopping population growth as a key to protecting environmental integrity. Verbatim: “An NDP government will give top priority to environmental problems with particular emphasis of population control.” (1972) You see, we read “Limits to Growth” and we knew that the Population Bomb (Paul Ehrlich) was ticking just as loudly in Canada as elsewhere. Our environmental literacy then was higher than the class of 83 and light years ahead of your class of 07. Any one of us then could have seen, that if you cut your per capita energy consumption in half, but then turn around and double your population, you are doing the Labour of Sisyphus. Or if you try to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% with the introduction of tough restrictions on cars and factories that spew noxious gases as Tony Blair did in 1996, but then allow the number of cars and factories to increase by that amount from economic growth, you are back to square one. You are bailing water out of a leaky boat. In fact, greenhouse emissions actually increased by 3% during Blair’s decade-long plan, causing 80 MPs to sign a declaration calling for the abandonment of economic growth as a foolish pursuit and faulty paradigm. Economic growth, it should be noted, is a function of population level and per capita consumption rate. Too many people. Too much consumption. Deal with both. Or you’re not dealing with either. You are in denial.
Ms. Mathyssen, you are in denial. Like all of your parliamentary colleagues, as well as the Greens, and the mainstream environmentalists, you are apparently unable to see the Elephant Standing in the Room. And he is only going to get bigger. By century’s end, Canada will have 70 million people, and America 700 million, barring refugee admissions, if immigration levels persist. Biodiversity cannot coexist with a fraction of these numbers, yet green politicians and environmentalists will do back-flips before they will acknowledge the Elephant. Such is the power of Political Correctness.
To compound matters, you argue that “there is no ethical mechanism to prohibit population growth in Canada or abroad.” Is there an ethical option not to? What is the point of having a morality if our species becomes extinct from over-population, perishing, as Farley Mowat once put it, like yeasts in vat breeding to the point that we are poisoned in the lethal brew of our making? Oil and natural gas depletion could kill 800 million people yearly for 18 years---that’s one scenario. Biodiversity collapse will surely do us in if that doesn’t. Global warming is just the coup de grace that should be the least of our worries, although it has captured all of our attention. As my bumper sticker says, “Either we limit growth, or Nature will limit Us”. Nature’s way is highly unethical, I can assure you.
We can limit growth, if we resolve to do so, but first people like you have to acknowledge the existence of two concepts and grasp their meaning. “Carrying capacity” and “biophysical limits”. When you’ve done that, then you can set to work reforming your position to conform to this reality. And you can begin to explore ways to limit growth locally, nationally and globally. Start locally. Check out Qualicum Beach, BC and Okotoks, Alberta. They’ve capped their population. If it can be done locally, it can be done nationally. To tackle the global problem, several ideas are current, Australian biologist John Reid has some, the education of young women is a proven winner---there are problem-solvers out there. Become one of them. Not just another problem-denier.
One more thing. There was an NDP slogan I recall from a provincial election in 1969, it read : “People Before Profits”. It’s a new era, with new priorities. I think you should try this slogan: “Nature Before People”. Just as a lifeboat must come before its passengers. Because if the lifeboat sinks, they all drown. And there is no “social democracy” on a dead planet, and no “social justice” for endangered species—your human-centered agenda has no value for them and they too are citizens of Canada and the world.


In your email of March 15/07 you state that “The Sierra Club is concerned that gains made in energy conservation might be wiped out by increased GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector.” Yet you apparently are not concerned that increased population growth driven by immigration will wipe out “gains made in energy conservation”.

The census report, released days ago, revealed that Canada grew by an alarming 5% since the last report—the highest of any G8 country. The impact this is having on biodiversity is manifest, yet all the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy of Canada can do is whine about habitat protection without mentioning the taboo of population growth, which will make any protected areas insecure.

Similarly, when Tony Blair introduced tough regulations on cars and factories in 1996 as part of his bold plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% over 10 years, greenhouse emissions actually went up 3% over that same period. Why? While individual cars and factories spewed less noxious gases, the number of cars and factories increased thanks to economic growth, a function of growing population and per capita consumption rates.

In the tradition of Elizabeth May, The Great Pretender, you fail to acknowledge the Elephant-in-the-Room, because immigration and population policy is a no-no in the land of political correctness. Better to focus entirely on reducing consumption while ignoring the other half of the equation, and solicit funds to set aside a habitat for Rudolf the Rocky Mountain Cariboo while ignoring what it is that will ultimately will destroy his habitat.

You are a counterfeit environmentalist group, like so many others, chasing peripheral issues and decoying sincere people away from THE major task at hand: stabilizing our population.

“It does no good to preach that we should not destroy habitat or that we should reserve more open space. When push comes to shove, we are going to clear more land to build houses, plant more acres to crops, build roads to carry an increased traffic load, create more jobs as well as a host of other habitat-destroying activities in order to provide for an ever-increasing number of people. Each year we convert more wildlands and open space to human-dominated landscapes to provide for human needs. It can be no other way as long as our populations continue to grow. We continue to attack the symptoms, not the underlying cause.” (Steve Hoecker, “When More is Less” Hunting Magazine, Dec.1996)


I wished I had a rocket-launcher to deal with the ATVs and snow-mobiles
I encounter in the woods. These operators claim to want to enjoy a
natural experience but they are destroying mine and those of every hiker
and cross-country skier in ear-shot. How can these barbarians enjoy
nature if they can't even hear it? What gives them the right to usurp my
The FDA screens out all harmful drugs before they are permitted release
onto the market. Why then aren't these toys first screened for there
environmental impact before they are allowed to be unleashed on the
innocent bystander? We act as though there are only two parties involved
here. One the product manufacturer or retailer who wants to make a buck
selling these noise machines, and two the insensitive moron who wants to
operate them.
There is a third party. The person, the people, who want to experience
the forest and the meadows as they are meant to be experienced, in peace
and tranquillity. That's why people leave the cities to go to them. If
you like motorized transport, stay in urban Canada, which every day
encroaches on precious wilderness. If you like the forest, walk,
snow-shoe, or ski. If you like the water, row, canoe or kayak. Leave
your ATVs, snow-mobiles, outboard motors and jet-skis behind. Only
police and rescue personnel, or those in the serious business of making
a living have any justification to use them.
If regulation and a shift in attitudes will not chase these rednecks out
of the woods, then maybe the imminent collapse of fossil fuel production

PS My friend Keith Hobson of Saskatoon had a more sober suggestion: short of banning them a surcharge should go on the sale of these machines and be put into an environmental recovery fund. But how would that recover my peace of mind and lost nature experience?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


On this morning's TV news, you reported that Kitimat and Prince Rupert, B.C. were "census losers" for having dropped 12.5% of their population. I would submit that they were census "winners". The losers were the hundreds of towns and cities across this country, and especially the province of British Columbia as a whole, that have to suffer the unchecked growth imposed by an agenda driven by corporations, developers, economists and politicians. These vested interests do not know or care that more people means a degraded environment and a lower quality of life. And their twisted vision of "prosperity" forms the underlying assumption of news reports like yours. If you want an alternate vision, go ask the town councils of Okotoks, Alberta or Oualicum Beach, B.C., who have capped their population. Now THAT is a census success story.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


So God gave us dominion over the creatures of the earth
Without us understanding how nature even worked

“Go forth and multiply!” said He.
Don’t practice birth control said most of his believers
Or choose abortion—God forbid!

Just let our 6.5 billion people keep growing
Because somehow they will be provided for

Well we followed your mandate Lord
And now our planet is in ruins
And our prognosis is terminal

Nice work Christianity!

Just remember though,
If you are lonely and in despair as I am,

Monday, March 5, 2007


If you read Lynn Townsend White Jr. you realize that Christianity lies at “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” No item in God’s physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes. White says “Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects…it’s the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen…what we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink the old one.” I rather doubt that the old one can be rehabilitated.
There was a book written in the early eighties by John Livingston called “The Myth of Wildlife Preservation”. Livingston argued that environmentalists were losing the war to save wildlife habitat because they were fighting the battle with the men in suits on their terms—that is, the terms of facts and figures and dollars and cents. But you can’t always quantify the priceless bounty of wildlife and pristine lakes and streams. The power-brokers only want to know about hard numbers, “tourist dollars” vs. the opportunity cost of no development. The only way to save wildlife is to win a constituency for it and to do that you’ve got to get people out of their shopping malls and fitness clubs and into marshes and lakes and actually “experience” wildlife. The battle to fight climate change or save the environment cannot be won by producing hard data or scientific papers and presentations. That’s been done. Ad nauseam. People aren’t listening because they have lost their connection to the land. To nature. They live in cities. Artificial bubbles that insulate them from an appreciation of the wonderment of this country. For native Americans, for aboriginal Canadians, religion issued from the land itself. And as White said, in Antiquity, “ every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit.” When we re-establish that kind of connection, which I think involves a kind of mystical understanding that Capra spoke of, as opposed to the purely rational, scientific mind-set that is presently favoured, then we might have some hope of saving something of this planet.
We need a spiritual awakening, much more than a scientific understanding. And a spiritual awakening definitely not of the Christian kind. “God” did not grant us dominion over everything that lives on earth. “We are one among millions of species, stewards of nothing…Nature does not exist for us, had no idea we were coming, and doesn’t give a damn about us.” (Stephen Jay Gould) “Humans need to move from stewardship to studentship, and better learn the ways of the Earth and ourselves, for it is not the planet or its ecosystems that need stewarding, it is us.” (N. K. Dawe)

Sunday, March 4, 2007


There is a battle being fought on my island. It is being fought silently and incrementally. It is a battle to maintain our quality of life. And it is a battle we are losing, with our own unwitting collusion, day by day. We are losing this battle with our attitudes, attitudes that are shared by people and communities across Canada—and the world. It is the attitude that we have no right to stop growth, and that growth can go on and on forever. As Farley Mowat once said, we will apparently just keep multiplying like yeast in a vat until we perish in the lethal wastes of our own making. Here’s an example of what I am talking about.
Recently I was buying a plant from a local nursery, situated on a beautiful 10 acre estate. Noticing that another house was being constructed on the site, I asked the owner what it was about, and she replied that it was for her kids. She complained that children who grow up on Quadra Island can’t afford to buy land here anymore so the only way we can provide it for them is to build on our own property. Therefore “we must change the law so that we can subdivide properties to make them affordable to them.” At that point I thought I might introduce a contrarian thought: “So instead of 3500 people our population becomes 7,000, and what happens when your kids have kids, are we then to allow more densification to accommodate them? We enjoy a certain quality of life at 3500 people which at 7,000 people could be lost forever.”
“Yes”, she said—and this is the classic response—“but do we have a right to say no more once we’re here?”. “Actually, we do”, I said. “We have a moral right to set limits. There are only so many seats in a movie theatre. Once they are taken, the door is shut. You don’t ask patrons to accept newcomers in to sit on their laps.” This discussion was different than others I’ve had, because it didn’t spiral out of control into a heated exchange. I said that I understood her sentiments because I have a niece who grew up here and would love to live here and can’t. I simply didn’t want Quadra to sleepwalk toward becoming Saltspring Island, once an island like this, but now Paradise Lost with 27,000 people. She nodded agreement to that.
Just as a movie theatre has a limited seating capacity, so too does an island have limited carrying capacity, as does a nation like Canada, as does the planet itself. Once people accept community limits, then I think, they can be moved to accept national and global population limits. Coupled with cut-backs to consumption, they will then have strangled Economic Growth, which is killing biodiversity worldwide and will counter-act any gains made by tough greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
Stopping growth begins at home. It begins with your attitude. You must abandon the assumption that growth is inevitable and unstoppable, or that it can continue indefinitely. Or if we must stop it, we haven’t the right to stop it because we can’t very well “pull up the ladder” once we are aboard. You must put the needs of your local environment ahead of the wants of an unending torrent of newcomers. If not for your sake, then for the sake of our habitat, our remaining fresh lakes and streams and fish and pastures, we must draw a line. Where and when is a question of debate. I should only hope that when and if we have such a debate, that we listen not to politicians, economists, refugee advocates and humanitarians, but to independent biologists and ecologists not on the take. For they understand the concept of biophysical limits and carrying capacity. The debate can only begin with the absolute conviction that we have the right, in our local community, and in our country, to draw that line. My fear is that when we finally come to that realization, it will be far too late.