Saturday, May 03, 2008

Too much immigration bad for environment?

I am impressed--one of the (usually leftist) environmentalists dares mention the unmentionable fact in leftist circles:

...elected officials and even many experts in science and the environmental movement have been cowed into silence when it comes to addressing the elephant in California's living room: population growth.


That glaring omission might be an act of self-preservation rather than an accident. As the state's ground water supplies grow ever more precarious, the well of public discourse has been poisoned.

One of the early casualties of the rancorous debate over immigration to the United States, both legal and illegal, has been the ability to discuss openly the staggering effects of population growth on critical resources such as water.

Because immigration -- and particularly illegal immigration -- is the human engine driving sustained population growth in California and the U.S., addressing population growth means wading into the immigration debate.

Thus, academics, environmentalists and elected officials alike run the very real risk of being tarred as "racist" by immigrant advocacy groups if they dare to suggest serious limitations to immigration as part of an overall strategy to stabilize our population growth.

The effect this has had is clear. There are increasing calls for new water-use policies, tougher restrictions on developers, beefed up land-use regulations and investment in research and development -- anything but a reasoned call for slowing our population growth and then reducing it to replacement levels over the next century. It is politically correct to call for dramatic reductions in overall consumption, to specifically conserve fuel or water, or to preserve what remains of arable land. But it remains verboten among political, academic and many media circles to discuss the reason for consumption run amok.

This whistling past the graveyard has taken on an absurdist pitch in various environmental groups, where it remains chic to warn against global overpopulation but absolutely unacceptable to discuss the immigration that is fueling America's population surge.

I was treated to an example of this intellectual charade not long ago while speaking with a Sierra Club representative who was working an information booth for the venerable group. We chatted amicably for a few minutes about the runaway development in Southern California that in a generation has erased the open space that once demarcated city limits. She seemed pleased as punch to meet a fellow traveler on the issue of sustainable growth.

Then I dropped the "pop-bomb," asking her about the Sierra Club's view on population growth and its effect on the environment. She quickly shifted her pleasant banter into a stock, monotone recitation of the challenges posed by global overpopulation. When I pointed to the dramatic strain on critical resources in California, such as water, and contrasted that with population growth that has us on track to hit 60 million people by mid-century, her response was immediate. She lifted her hand up in front of her, like a crossing guard ordering cars to halt, and refused to talk about the issue. And that was that.

A serious discussion on California's population growth has yet to begin. It is intellectually dishonest for academics like Fagan to proffer "adapting" as a solution without confronting the state's continued population growth. Academics, scientists, elected officials and the media must find the courage to address the issue of overpopulation despite the insidious smears they will likely suffer. The longer we put off launching that discussion in earnest, the faster Fagan's projection of a "frightening future" is going to become reality.

Not only is illegal immigration poisonous to the natural environment, as a larger underclass pollutes more and more and contributes not enough tax money for environmental programs to offset the environmental damage they cause, but it is also poisonous to the *human* environment.

What do I mean by that? Why, the very environment of good human relations, namely, the rule of law, and the necessary respect for and trust in that very same rule of law.

Bill Whittle says it well:

Large numbers of non-citizens want to live in the United States. Large numbers. A society can only assimilate so many people in a given year. If millions and millions of people come here illegally, they are loading the system to capacity at the expense of the honest, decent people who are doing the right thing by applying to immigrate legally. If we reward illegal immigration, we have allowed the illegals not only to screw our own people and laws, but even more so they harm their own countrymen who are trying to get here by cooperating.

The biggest losers in our inability to control illegal immigration are the legal immigrants. What benefit do these honest people gain from playing by the rules? This is as clear a real-world example as you are likely to see of the lack of retaliation flipping a political ecology from a pristine one based upon cooperation to a toxic one based upon betrayal.

And, by allowing this to happen, you also set a precedent, which I think is even more destructive: you are saying not only to the illegals but to the entire society that laws are for chumps. Cheaters win. How much of this do we need to be immersed in before everyone realizes the smart move is to flip from pristine cooperation to toxic betrayal? How much damage does it do when the very public officials sworn to uphold the law – uphold the rules that allow this amazing political ecosystem called America to continue — are the ones who seem most enthusiastic to reward cheating? Finding out the public officials are in on the crime is enough to drive even the most stout-hearted person to despair.

A steady diet of this message is not going to end well.

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