Thursday, February 5, 2009


A Green critic posts a question that is among the most common of misconceptions about global growth; “I don’t see how closing borders helps save global biodiversity or stops global overpopulation.”

1. By providing a safety value for third world excess populations, we are allowing these countries not to come to terms with their overpopulation. Much like bailing your delinquent son out of any troubles he has with over-spending his allowance or his chronic clashes with the law. If he is not forced to face up to the consequences of his actions, he will NEVER learn. Unconditional foreign aid, that is aid not made conditional on birth control is another of our sins.
2. Immigration also allows dictators to survive in third world countries. If the oppressed populations knew that there no escape hatches out, the incentive to overthrow a Mugabe would be irresistible.
3. Immigration cost us as much money as we spend on health. Check out the Grubel report of 2002 on the cost of immigration. 80% of our immigrants are unskilled. Less than half have command of either French or Engish---a fundamental job skill. As a consequence, they do not re-imburse government in the taxes they pay for the government services that they consume. Their unskilled jobs do not pay high enough taxes in a progressive tax system. Immigrants who arrived in 1990 cost by 2002, over $18 billion dollars a year on average. That money could be deployed instead on foreign aid tied to family planning. Reducing immigration to Canada therefore WOULD impact global population levels positively if we spent money this way. THEIR biodiversity would benefit, as well as ours. Helping people where they presently live is a win, win situation. And the fact is, people fundamentally don’t want to move and leave their extended families behind. They never did. We could give them more good reasons to stay. Scrap immigration, vastly multiply foreign aid within the context of family planning and abolish the trade agreements which favour the affluent nations and cripple and rob the poor ones. Closing borders does not mean closing our hearts. On the contrary, it could mean opening our wallets wider and spending our resources with greater benefit to all.
4. Open borders allow for the emigration of people from lower footprint countries to ours, a very high footprint country. One immigrant to American quadruples his GHG emissions upon arrival, thereby accelerating the timetable of our collective global demise, if AGW is your chief concern. Yes we must reduce OUR footprint. But it is colossally irresponsible to permit entry of people until we have done so, and tightened up our land use planning to make efficient use of our space. You do not allow motorists onto a new highway system UNTIL the traffic controls are all in place. But even if they were, Canada should NOT increase its population level. The soils will not support more than a fraction of the people we now have when Petroleum is no longer economically available. There is no technological fix or renewable technology to replenish soils that have been mined of all their nutrients when fossil fuel based fertilizers are unavailable. Check out Dale Pfeiffer’s “Eating Fossil Fuels” and “A Ten thousand Year Misunderstanding” by soil microbiologist Peter Salonius. And remember, just 5% of our land base consists of arable land, land which is being lost to immigrant driven growth at an alarming rate outside of our major urban centres. Ontario alone loses 60,000 acres of prime farmland to development annually. Already subdivisions and commericial buildings have claimed one-fifth of our best “Class 1” farmland. And at least 70% of the housing units on this land are occupied by New Canadians.
5. More Canadian consumers mean an increased appetite and demand for unsustainably-produced products in foreign lands. We have in fact exported the environmental costs of making these products to less developed nations that typically have fewer environmental and labour safeguards. In other words, population growth here accelerates biodiversity loss there. A “lose-lose” proposition. As environmentalist Rick Shea puts it, “Canadians appropriate that capacity from all over the planet as we import goods and resources, and thus contribute greatly to the loss of biodiversity elsewhere. As one example among so many, we contribute to the mercury falling into the oceans and rivers from China's coal-fired power plants as we buy their goods at Wal-Mart and other stores.” This, he points out, fits with William Rees’ concept of “appropriated carrying capacity”.

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