Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Physicist Dr. Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado has made some disturbing calculations.

Bartlett says that immigration accounts for something like three-quarters of the present annual increase in the U.S. population. He maintains that each American emits on average of about 23.8 tons of GHG per year. For each million people that are admitted to the U.S., 23.8 million metric tons of GHG will be discharged. The U.S. is growing by over 3 million people per year. By my calculations, then, about 2.25 million of those are immigrants.

Therefore, immigrants coming to the U.S. in any given year would contribute 53.55 million metric tons of GHG into the atmosphere.

In 2005 total US GHG emissions were 7,142.2 million tons. If 11% of America’s population is foreign-born, then immigrants, not counting the children they have in America, accounted for 786.192 million tons in that year.

What would be the Canadian equivalent to these numbers?

First of all, being a colder climate, we use more energy, despite higher American use of air conditioners, so I suspect we emit more than 23.8 tons per capita. But in the absence of Canadian statistics I’ll use Bartlett’s figures to be on the conservative side.

Between 2001-2006, immigration accounted for 75% of Canada’s population growth, averaging 240,000 people per year or 1.2 million in 5 years vs. 400,000 who were born here. This year 250,000 immigrants will emit 5.95 million metric tons of GHG in the atmosphere, while foreign-born Canadians will dump 137 million tons.

The point of the foregoing is not to scapegoat immigrants for global warming. After all, native-born Canadians generate four times as much GHG as those who come from outside the country. Immigrants did not create our profligate life-style. But they will be participants in it.

To add any more energy hogs to this high consumption society either by mass immigration or by pro-natalist policies can only be counter-productive to meeting our Kyoto obligations.

Environmental groups like the David Suzuki Foundation or the Sierra Club of course will take the politically correct escape hatch of avoiding immigration and focus instead on promoting renewable technologies and greener living choices.

But it is as David Nicholson-Lord of Optimum Population Trust remarked. “We ‘re deluding ourselves if we think that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved solely through greener technologies and having nothing to do with human numbers.”

More people, more pollution. The correlation is that simple.

Tim Murray June 7/07

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