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?