Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NOW THEY WANT TO HEAR FROM ME? The Sierra Club's Selective Hearing

At the conclusion of the showing of the Gore documentary on global warming the local Sierra Club prevented me from circulating leaflets critical of Gore’s, and the Sierra Club’s omission of population growth as a factor in climate change. My opinion was not valuable to them.

In mid March of that same year, 2007, when the census report revealed that Canada suffered the highest population growth rate of all G8 countries, I , together with Brishen Hoff, took the Sierra Club to task for failing to publicly cite government immigration policy as a key factor in environmental degradation. All across Canada, director after director in the Sierra Club screamed of harassment and demanded that they be “taken off” our list.” Not a single one would engage our argument or debate with us. Our opinion was not valuable to them.

To commemorate Earth Day a tribute was sent out to scores of Sierra Club directors on April 18, 2008 to celebrate the life of three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Brower. It spoke of Brower as the catalyst in changing the Sierra Club from an insignificant group of affluent apolitical hikers to an aggressive player on the national environmental scene. For all intents and purposes he was the Sierra Club.

But imagine the Pope resigning from the Vatican in disgust over corruption. Well Brower resigned because he could no longer stomach a corrupt, money-grubbing, corporate-lackey that accepted a massive annual $100 million bribe to leave immigration, a vital ingredient of environmental ruin, out of the policy book. And unlike Elizabeth May, he knew that you couldn’t make the ecological consequences of an immigration wave go away with magic—“abra-kadabra Smart Growth”--- “ Poof” -- gone!

The directors of Canada’s Sierra Club did not want to read this. It was a replay of March 2007. “Take me off your list” was the chorus. One was incredulous. “I am just a volunteer. I am no corporate lackey.” All Sierrans have this self-image as white, or should I say, green, knights, as selfless crusaders, fighting off evil polluters , malevolent energy corporations, and logging companies etc. In fact, they are their junior partners, green collaborators in a neo-liberal agenda to import as much cheap labour as possible, whether in the form of white collar IT workers, unskilled labour or professionals that never get placed. All fuel for the consumer economy, all able to wipe out the gains in energy conservation or recycling or occupy the new subdivisions that developers want to spread over wildlife habitat. They will readily put the smallest energy proposal or mining application up against an environmental impact statement, but give a free pass to a government’s immigration policy that will add millions to the national population and have ecological impact far exceeding the brushfires they are trying to put out.

Once upon a time the Sierra Club, north and south of the 49th, did in fact believe in the IPAT equation. It was easier to then, before the age of political correctness. But now it is more important not to offend its yuppie subscription base than to tell the truth. The truth is, Canada’s environment cannot be saved unless we stabilize, and reduce, our population. For those who do not want to hear that truth, why ask for it? And why now?

These are the questions I must ask as the Sierra Club of Canada has sent out an opinion survey by email. I must pre-empt their survey with my own:

And if you think we should just keep tightening our belts to accommodate more and immigrants, cut back our per capita consumption more and more just increase total consumption through immigration more and more, tell us, how many immigrants is too many for you? Another 10? 20? 30? 40? 50 million? How many Canadians would there be in an ecologically sound Canada as defined by Sierra Club Canada? Do you have any evidence that wildlife “sanctuaries” and reserves enjoy permanent safety from human population growth? As for Sustainable Energy options, is there a technological fix for the species lost from human population growth? Is there a technological fix for marine life eradicated from over harvesting and pollution? Is there a technological fix for soils exhausted by 10,000 years of intensive farming? Why does the Sierra Club think that climate change warrants more concern than the loss of biodiversity services? Why does the Sierra Club not seem to understand that is population that is the underlying agency of both? No climate change without climate changers. Growing cities shrinking wilderness.

This is MY survey. I will not be confined by your prefabricated questions. The questions I need answering involve your complicity in the overpopulation of Canada, and your focus on inconsequential feel-good concepts of consumption, conservation and recycling. Remember it is our total consumption which is relevant, not our per capita consumption.

I will value your opinion when you begin to value mine.

Tim Murray
Vice President
Biodiversity First
June 24/08

The Sierra Club Survey: Most revealing about the Sierra Club Survey is Question 5. Respondents are asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 what issue is most important to them, and how effective the Sierra Club is in responding to it. Of 16 issues listed, from “agriculture” to “youth empowerment”, there is no mention at all of population, overpopulation, immigration, or over-immigration. And of the 21 questions in the survey there is no mention of these topics either. Yet some Sierra Club directors will swear up and down that overpopulation is a “concern”. Yeah right. Maybe in Central Africa

SIERRA CLUB SURVEY (introduction):

We value your opinion.

We’re working to create our vision for Sierra Club Canada five years from now. Please will you help us by filling out this opinion survey. It will take a little of your time, but will make a great difference to our planning!
We would appreciate your reply by Friday, July 4. Please use this link to fill out your survey.
Thank you so much. (If you've already completed the survey - Thanks again!)

Votre opinion nous est importante.

Nous œuvrons pour créer notre vision de Sierra Club Canada dans cinq ans. Pouvez-vous nous aider en prenant ce sondage pour nous donner votre avis ? Il faudra y passer un peu de temps, mais fera une grande différence durant notre planification !
Remplissez ce sondage en ligne ici, avant le Vendredi, 4 Juillet, s’il-vous-plait.
Nous vous remercions d’avance de nous rendre ce service. (Si vous l’avez déjà fait – Merci encore !)

1 comment:

Dave Gardner said...

Tim, you've touched on an aspect of the overpopulation / immigration / sustainability debate that interests me. I intend to explore the Sierra Club non-position on immigration in my documentary. I would love to hear from people who have facts, records, newspaper stories, etc. that will help me piece together this chapter of the story of our denial of what must be done to have a sustainable human population on the planet. I'm also interested in suggestions for the most knowledgeable interviewees on the Sierra Club topic.

Dave Gardner
Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity