Saturday, December 6, 2008

IS MULTICULTURALISM BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT? How Long Should Population Stability advocates Ignore Issues of Culture and Ethnicity?

Their mission statements are very clear. Those organizations fighting to achieve a stable population level for their respective countries do not want to muddy the waters with concerns that would decoy attention from the major task at hand: containing and reducing the numbers of consumers in their societies. The ethnic, cultural or religious composition of those numbers is immaterial to their environmental impact. That’s the party line, and it is defended and believed with conviction, against the determined efforts of open-borders critics and human rights activists to impute racism and bury the movement in disgrace.
When confronted by a reporter who asked if he was campaigning for the population stabilization of California because he didn’t like Mexicans---the driving force behind its growth---Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society responded that he didn’t care if 100% of California was Mexican, as it once was. Only that there would be fewer Californians.
Roy Beck of NumbersUSA said something quite similar: “To talk about changing immigration numbers is to say nothing against the individual immigrants in this country. Rather, it is about deciding how many foreign citizens living in their own countries right now should be allowed to immigrate in the future.”
SUSPS, a faction of the Sierra Club that promotes population stability for the United States by reduced immigration and low fertility, says in its statement No to Racism, Yes to Environmentalism , that it repudiates the support of “xenophobes and racists” and compares human diversity to the value of diversity found in animal and plant species. “We support U. S. population stabilization purely for ecological reasons. This requires we reduce both birth rates and migration to the U. S. to sustainable levels.”
Andy Kerr of the now defunct Alternatives to Growth Oregon, articulated the same sentiment. “To those who oppose immigration because of racist and/or xenophobic reasons, I say to you, Go To Hell. The issue is immigration, not immigrants. I came to my support of immigration reform from an ecological carrying capacity perspective. Be it a house, a block, a city, a waterfront, a state, a bioregion, a nation, a continent, or a planet—all have a carrying capacity.”
The Carrying Capacity Network echoes Kerr’s sentiments. “CCN is anti-mass immigration but not anti-immigrant…our battle is being waged for the future of the USA, for preservation of quality of life, respect for law, national security and a sustainable size and level of resource use.” They add that they were the founding sponsor of the “Diversity Coalition for Immigration Moratorium” because they are working as much for the benefit of immigrants as native-born Americans.
Optimum Population Trust of the United Kingdom puts the matter of “quantity” vs. origin of people in a more clinical language. “The OPT believes the UK is overpopulated and that its population should be allowed to stabilize to a sustainable level. The ecological issue is one of population numbers, and of resource demand and environmental impacts created by different sizes of population at given rates of affluence and technology, issues of race or religion therefore, are not relevant.”
Sustainable Population Australia meanwhile, simply aims “to advocate low immigration rates while rejecting any selection based on race.”
So the ecological verdict is in. Numbers matter. Nothing else does. It doesn’t matter if 450 million Americans will be singing the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish in fifty years. Only that the country can’t sustain 50% more people than it currently has, regardless of the language they speak. It is not imperative that an Anglo-European civilization survive in North America, Australia or the UK. It is more urgent that a civilization of any kind survive this century, which many, like James Lovelock, say it won’t. The cultural disintegration of Anglo-European nations and their colonization by third world migrants does not gain a ranking on the endangered species list of any environmentalist. It is my contention that it should. With all due respect I think the population stabilization movement has got it wrong. Culture and value systems do matter in the numbers game. How so?
Check out fertility rates, something those in the movement love to focus on because they can avoid the nasty “I” word, immigration. It seemed that as long as the Sierra Club could concentrate on telling white people not to have babies they were quite on board with population control. Every liberal is a champion of “reproductive freedom”. But when it became clear that it would have to mean telling “people of colour” not to come to America they got cold feet and dropped immigration from their policy book. David Gelbaum’s $100 million bribe persuaded them to keep it out. Other organizations are more comfortable with discussing fertility too, despite the fact that it accounts for about a third of population growth in North America and Britain, and half in Australia.
A briefing paper prepared by Migration Watch UK used census data to reveal that while the fertility rate for the UK-born population as a whole was 1.8, it was 4.8 for mothers born in Pakistan. In 2001, British women had 1.6 children while Pakistan-born women had 4.7. Bangladeshi women in Birmingham, to cite one city, and another country of origin, had a total fertility rate of 5.3 in 1991 and 3.9 in 2001. The Indian fertility rate was much lower at 2.3 but still higher than the national average. Then the paper makes an interesting observation. “The fact that Black communities have seen their fertility rate fall toward British norms reflects the settled nature of these communities.” In other words, as this assertion would imply, they have become somewhat assimilated.
A comparable statement was made by Statistics Canada. Noting that in 2006 36% of all children born in Ontario were born to immigrants, Statscan gave us the assurance that “studies have shown that immigrants have higher fertility rates compared with Canadian-born women, but these rates decline to Canadian levels with the second generation.” Again, the magic of assimilation.
But what if the newcomers are non-assimilable? What if there are too many, too fast, for integration? The British government’s Community Cohesion Panel was quoted by Migration Watch as reporting in July of 2004 that “there are other concerns about the speed at which the newcomers can be accommodated…the pace of change is simply too great in some areas at present.”
The same concerns can be heard in Toronto where 44% are foreign-born, Vancouver where 38% are foreign-born and other cities with large and assertive immigrant communities. Many Canadians would maintain that Canada is suffering from ethnic indigestion.
In America the new wave of immigration is fast transforming the nation. There are now more Asians in Chicago than in Honolulu and more Hispanics in Washington than El Paso. In more than six major cities the Hispanic population doubled in the last 7 years and it grew by 22% in small counties, seven times the growth rate of those areas. In 2000 non-Hispanic whites were a minority in 29 counties of more than 500,000 residents. Seven years later, they are a minority in 36 counties of that size. Ethnic minorities now form a majority in one-third of the most populated counties in the United States. And with immigration at a runaway rate of two million a year plus illegal immigrant flow, that proportion will continue to grow. Anglo-European culture in America is against the wall.
Two things are material about this trend. Mass immigration, legal or illegal, is bad news for the environment. The pressure on habitat, farmland and wetlands is manifest, so that ironically, the cultural diversity that migrants bring with them and to which environmental NGOs pay homage is delivered at the cost of our biological diversity. Moreover, each newcomer, according to the calculations of Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado, will dump 23.8 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
Particularly damaging are Americans, or aspiring Americans, who come from Mexico and apparently have more children while living in America than women who live in Mexico. The Hispanic fertility rate is 40% higher than non-Hispanics and Hispanic single women have the highest fertility rate of any group. The total fertility rate for Hispanics is 2.9 as compared to 1.8 for non-Hispanic whites, and 2.1 for the general population. Is their rate declining according to the classic pattern of integration to the host culture?
Not according to a January 2001 report in the Chicago Tribune by Sue Ellen Christian and Teresa Puente. “While the number of births to African-American and white teenagers fell in Illinois from 1997 to 1999, the number of births to Hispanic teens increased. In fact, Hispanic girls lead the nation in the teen birthrate, with about 93 births per 1,000 Hispanic teens per year compared to the overall national teen birthrate of about 50 births per 1000….Newer immigrants are more likely to avoid pregnancy than second or third generation Hispanics.” (cf. Steve Sailer, Assimilation,
Young Hispanics, so it would seem, are not becoming Americanized. But this cannot be surprising. As the census shows, they are not actually living in America, but in Mexican colonies. This may not be of much alarm to Paul Watson, or to those with an environmental focus, but it should be. Failure to assimilate, a function of too many outside the core Anglo-European value group coming in too quickly, translates into a higher birthrate. That drives a third of our environmentally ruinous population growth. What then of the other two-thirds, immigration? Can it be that the multicultural character of immigration affects not only fertility rates but the volume of immigration itself, and hence, the environmental damage?
The Canadian example is instructive. Multiculturalism is not only a social fact but the state ideology and code language for mass immigration itself. Four decades ago Canada was described as Two Solitudes, English and French. Mass immigration drawn from “non-traditional” sources as mandated from a policy shift in the mid 60s has created a nation of twenty solitudes whose affinity with the host country is questionable. Their numbers grow every year and political parties compete in a bidding war for their votes. This has built up powerful lobbies for even higher levels of immigration leading to a vicious cycle, a veritable cyclone that has led Canada to the highest population growth rate in the G8 and the highest per capita immigrant intake in the world. As a consequence, the country has lost about 20% of its best farmland to subdivisions and 70% of its endangered wildlife lies within striking distance of more development.
Cultural fragmentation then, has become a force behind immigration, and therefore environmental destruction. And this is exactly how Garrett Hardin saw the danger of a multicultural nation. Each “tribe” lobbies government to open the doors so that can grow its membership. An ethnically and culturally homogeneous society, on the other hand, Hardin argued, could better reach a consensus on how to deal with a contentious issue. Jared Diamond made a similar point. Japan, facing post-war starvation with a population beyond its carrying capacity, was able to cut its birth-rate because there were no competing ethnic blocs fearful of losing demographic political weight. In Canada the francophone “tribe” of Quebec is pursuing pro-natalist policies of birth incentives driven in part, subconsciously at least, by that old fear of being swamped in an Anglophone sea.
There remains but one more nail to be driven into the coffin of multiculturalism over which so many in the environmental movement would mourn. That is the terribly awkward fact that those wonderful uninvited cultures that have colonized our cities do not harbour an environmentalist ethic.
It was the late Stephen Jay Gould who said that can’t fight for something you don’t love. A look at the roster of conservation and environmental organizations will confirm that it is substantially those of Northern European ancestry who love nature. This stands to reason as the conservation movement finds its roots in early nineteenth century Northern European romanticism. According to Steve Sailer only 7% of the Sierra Club’s 550,000 members are minorities of any kind, though minorities account for 28% of the US population. Those who frequent the trails of the Canadian rockies or Coast Mountains will typically encounter hikers with German, British, Dutch, Scandinavian or North American accents, while in Banff Alberta, the Japanese keep to the paved walkways. Leave them to go into the forest and you’d think you were in Bavaria for the Germans you would meet. There were 500 members in our Vancouver Natural History Society. It seemed half had come from the UK, one came from Southern Europe and none from Asia in a city with an Asian population of 25%.
By contrast, only 1% of visitors to Yellowstone national park are Hispanics, even though they comprise 10% of the general population. Sailer believes that during a recession Hispanic blue collar workers, unlike the British working class émigrés like my grandfather who relished “rambling” on the moors, would favour relaxing California’s environmental restrictions. What is worrisome is that the demographic shift away from the European core will undercut support for the national parks system when it becomes increasingly under siege in coming decades from the developmental pressures from immigrant-driven growth.
Looking to a future where the Hispanic population will grow from 52 to 190 million by century’s end in a country of an unsustainable 570 million, one might ask, are there any John Muirs in Hispanic America? Will futile outreach efforts to ethnic minorities and environmentally unfriendly cultures by the Sierra Club and other such timid, growth-colloborationist organizations bear any fruit? Steve Sailer offers some qualified hope:
“If immigrants tended to come from cultures that shared a green-orientation with us, like Germany… or if they tended to be well-educated like the typical Sierra Club member, they’d pose less of a threat to the environment. However, most immigrants today tend to be poorly educated, and originating in societies that put little emphasis on conservation…
Now, it’s likely that upper-middle class environmentalist views could be inculcated into today’s Hispanic-Americans over the next couple of generations. But the process depends on their being economically and culturally assimilated into today’s upper middle class. However, few will manage that trick if they continue to be engulfed by millions of additional Hispanic immigrants, driving down their wages, and surrounding them with environmentally lax Latin American cultural norms. The best way to kick-start this assimilation process is an immigration pause.” (VDARE, The Green Gag)
The sad politically incorrect fact is, for anyone concerned about population stabilization, culture does matter. The fragmentation, colonization and disintegration of a once dominant culture from which key conservationist values have been drawn cannot surely be a matter of indifference to environmentalists. Numbers of course are of paramount concern, but where people come from is as important as how many people come, if so many come that time is not allowed for their assimilation.
Assimilation, a dirty word in Canadian political lexicography, holds the key to lowering second-generation fertility rates, to breaking with identity politics and tribal loyalties, and to the absorption from the core culture of a conservationist ethic. Multiculturalism is an ideological riposte to the need for this essential process.
Multiculturalism is bad for the environment.

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