On Earth Day 2009, all environmental organizations should have done some moral accounting. In particular, they should have decided whether they have abandoned the original objectives of Earth Day which was Co-Founded in 1970 by the late American Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Mr. Nelson was an environmental pioneer with great foresight. Mr. Nelson's Earth Day is now celebrated around the world. To him, a continually increasing U.S. population, primarily driven by immigration, meant massive environmental degradation. In contrast to most of today's timid environmental organizations and many elected officials, Mr. Nelson advocated major reductions in legal immigration and strong border controls to stop illegal immigration. His goal was to achieve population stabilization in the U.S.
In Nelson's lifetime (1916 to 2005) , the U.S. population tripled from 100 million to almost 300 million. Its most dramatic increase occurred between 1960 and 2005 when it grew from 180 million to 296 million.
Recognizing the danger of unchecked population growth very early in his career, Senator Nelson authored the U.S. Wilderness Act (1964) and a number of other state and federal environmental bills. As Wisconsin state governor in the 1950's, he used a cigarette tax to buy and protect hundreds of thousands of acres of parkland, wetlands and other open space. In the U.S. Senate, Nelson championed conservation policies, including legislation to preserve the Appalachian Trail and create a national hiking system.
Mr. Nelson became the inspiration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. In responding to conflict between economic and environmental interests, Mr. Nelson once characterized a country's economy as "the wholly owned subsidiary of the environment". In his view, the health of all life as well as that of the human economy depended on the health of the environment.
Do most Canadian, American and international environmental organizations, in whose countries immigration is the major factor in population growth, warn about the dangers of continued population growth? The answer is "No".
The most notorious case of an environmental group which has denied the population/environment connection is the U.S. Sierra Club. For years, many people were suspicious of why the club did not speak out against record increases in U.S. population (largely due to legal and illegal immigration). In 2004, the truth surfaced in a Los Angeles Times article in which a major Sierra Club benefactor, David Gelbaum, said that he had recently contributed over $100 million to the club. He also stated that years earlier, he had made it clear that his generosity would end if the club took a stand against immigration.
After Gelbaum delivered his ultimatum, the Sierra Club dropped any mention of immigration. Instead, it focused attention on reducing American consumption levels. As critics of "greenwash" have stated, this approach is fraudulent. The wastes generated by population increases soon negate any gains from reductions in consumption.
Are Canadian groups acting similarly? The answer is Yes. Almost all Canadian environmental groups remain silent about immigration. Some, through spokespeople like Elizabeth May, even trivialize population increases such as Canada's post-1990, immigration-driven population increase of close to 5 million. Most think that all population growth can be "managed". They promote so-called "smart growth". An unknown number of others take large donations from profit-driven corporations such as RBC that promote huge immigration/population increases. For example, in 2007, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NC), with around 30,000 supporters here, received $1 Million from the Royal Bank of Canada.
The David Suzuki Foundation (with 40,000 donors) behaves in a similar way. It takes donations from RBC Foundation and the BMO and it too says nothing about immigration. For instance, in 2006, the Suzuki publication, "Forever Farmland", justifiably warned about the loss of agricultural land in British Columbia, particularly the province's best farmland located in or next to Metro Vancouver. By saying that 85% of all population growth in Metro Vancouver is caused by a shameless vote-getting immigration policy, the David Suzuki Foundation could have shown some leadership. Why did they not advocate immigration reductions and population stabilization for British Columbia and all of Canada? Why did they not proclaim that Canada, despite its size, has a very small amount of agricultural land and that, through senseless immigration, it endangers its own future food supply and its potential to feed others?
Ontario's Environmental Commissioner has been one of the few environmental figures to show some leadership. Undoubtedly, he knows that Ontario has lost around 1 million acres of farmland as a result of accommodating Canada's post-1990 immigration tsunami. Furthermore, he has stated that Southern Ontario does not have the water resources to support its projected population increase--which will be primarily immigration-driven.
Sounding like Earth Day Co-Founder Gaylord Nelson, he has asked the key environmental question for his province : Why must Ontario's population keep growing?
On Earth Day, 2009, all Canadian environmental organizations have to answer two important questions : (1) Have they been silent about the dangers of continued population growth, primarily driven by immigration? (2) Have they accepted financial support from corporations or individuals like David Gelbaum who demand silence on immigration and some of whom actually promote high population and high immigration?
If an environmental organization cannot answer "NO" to both questions, then it has abandoned and betrayed the original objectives of Earth Day.
These questions are the litmus test for all truly green organizations.
Dan Murray, Director, Immigration Watch Canada www.immigrationwatchcanada.org