Friday, October 31, 2008


In the October 29th, 2008 edition of the News Times , Colin Rigley, using two proxies, takes a run at a commercial aired by the Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). The critics he cites reprise the tired old “Greening of Hate” formula served up by the Carl Pope crew nearly a decade ago to squash efforts by the Sierra Club grass roots to restore sanity and tradition to America’s flagship environmental organization.

Once upon a time the “IPAT” equation was the foundation of environmental thinking in America (and elsewhere). It reasoned that environmental impact (I) equaled (P or population level) times (A affluence or per capita consumption if you like) times (T for technology).

But come the mid 80s, the “P” discreetly vanished from the equation, thus making nonsense out of a comprehensive understanding of environmental degradation. For what sense does it make if environmentalists only key on reducing overconsumption and ignore overpopulation, if they insist, for example, in cutting per capita energy consumption in half, while ignoring the fact that the population will double?

Why the population myopia? In a word, political correctness-- 70% of population growth is driven by immigration, and since the mid-80s, human rights has become the over-riding obsession---the I-word is an ugly taboo. But omelets cannot be made without cracking eggs. To be anti-immigration is not necessarily to be anti-immigrant. Any more than a restaurant owner who bars the door to more customers after his tables are all taken up is “anti-customer.”.

Mike Latner of Cal Poly states that immigrant-caused global-warming is an odd linkage, a logical fallacy and an unprecedented argument. Quite the opposite. In Australia the population increased 30% from 1990 to 2006 and its GHG emissions increased by exactly the same percentage during the same period. In the United States, the population increased 43% from 1970 to 2004 and its GHG emissions increased 43% during that same period. The correlation is clear, is it not? Yet Latner says, “the root problem is America’s CO2 emissions.” Which, I suppose, have nothing to do with the more than 302 million people living there. Can he name a single jurisdiction anywhere that has a growing population but has stopped its GHG emission growth?

Rigley’s article posed the question: “What’s behind the (CAPS) ads?” Some better questions would be supplementary follow-ups. Questions like: “Who’s behind the Sierra Club and what conditions did billionaire David Gelbaum set for his $100 million donation ?”

“What do we mean by ‘right wing’?

“Why is it that those who claim to be left-wing, liberal, or ‘progressive’, who support generous immigration, are on the same side as Microsoft and other huge computer corporations and Archer Midland and other agribusiness lobbies?”

“Why does the anti-immigration and supposedly ‘right-wing’ group ‘Americans for Better Immigration’ give Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont high marks for his opposition to chain migration, amnesty and visa abuse? “ Sanders, like the late Cesar Chavez, fights immigration because he sees it as a right wing agenda to vastly increase the pool of cheap labour to drive wages down.

The advocates of open immigration and runaway population growth question their motives. But what about the motives of those who question their motives? Should motives matter? Or shouldn’t just we worry about the facts? Probing people’s motivations is a job for hypnotists and psychiatrists. What is important is the logic of their arguments. It is irrelevant that I want mushrooms removed from grocery shelves because I hate them. What is relevant is whether I can advance sound empirical evidence that mushrooms offer no nutritional value and are a health hazard. If I can’t, it doesn’t matter if have toxic attitudes toward mushrooms, my arguments will die from exposure to fact.

Perhaps it is time to turn the tables on Southern Poverty Law and the critics of immigration reform and population stabilization movements like CAPS. Perhaps it is time to question their liberal McCarthyism, to question their motivations. Are they motivated by hate? Do they support porous borders and mass immigration because they hate the American working class? So much so that they stood by and watched it lose 5 million jobs under the Bush administration to outsourcing and displacement from the low-wage competition of immigrants who drive down the wages of Americans by 5.25% , according to Harvard’s Dr. George Borjas Do they hate agricultural self-sufficiency, American biodiversity and ecological sustainability?

Are their reflexive charges of xenophobia a cover for self-loathing and guilt?

The answers to these questions will always be speculative and not germane to the point that whether our intentions are malevolent or benevolent, what matters is not intentions or motivations but numbers. Numbers matter. Get CAPS off the psychiatrist’s couch and get out your calculator and make your computations. Number of people. Their per capita consumption. Then figure out what their habitat can tolerate and what the number of consumers consuming at what level of consumption can live there sustainably. Presto. There is your population policy, of which immigration policy is a key part.

Whether the Star Spangled Banner is eventually sung in Spanish or English is not so vitally important as that it is sung by substantially fewer Americans 50 years from now than are alive today.

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