Environmentalists have always considered population growth as the sine qua non of environmental degradation. “Save the planet; commit suicide” is a popular bumper sticker that captures the movement’s Malthusian hatred of humanity. Population control has thus forever been environmentalism’s Holy Grail. So why have Al Gore and his megaphones among the media and “intellectual” mainstream not campaigned to halt the US’s population explosion, a consequence of legal and illegal mass migration?
According to “Roy Beck’s celebrated demonstration of the population consequences of current US immigration policies,” the devil is in the unsustainable numerical details. In the four decades prior to 1965—which is when the Act that heralded the age of legal mass immigration was undemocratically enacted—America welcomed an average of 178,000 immigrants each year. Beck calls these years the Golden Era of immigration, characterized as they were by tight labor markets, which encouraged capital investment, and increased productivity and hence wages. America was solidly middle-class. Like others in prosperous developed countries, Americans had “chosen family sizes that allowed for a stabilized U.S. population.”
Formulated by federal fiat in 1965, the new immigration policy saw an exponential increase in the number of legal immigrants admitted annually into the US. Between 1965 and 1989, 507,000 were taken in yearly. Throughout the 1990s immigration averaged 1 million legal immigrants a year. Combined with the number of illegal arrivals, the annual intake exceeded 3 million. As a result of this increase, “every aspect of American society has changed,” Beck attests.
In 1970 there were 203 million people in the US. Had replacement levels of immigration been maintained, America’s population would have reached 247 million by the year 2030. Instead, population growth has doubled since the 1970s. At over 301 million in 2007, we’ve since added an additional 100 million people. Population growth from immigration alone now equals the population increase of “1970-stock Americans.”
These non-traditional rates of immigration have required doubling the expenditure on infrastructure—building twice as many schools, sewage treatment plants, roads and streets. “The majority of all new additional infrastructure needs over the past quarter century are the result of Washington’s immigration policies,” Beck notes.
In California, a school will have to be built every day in perpetuity to keep up with the unremitting influx. Urban sprawl, traffic congestion, overcrowding, pollution, and rural land loss—there isn’t a community in the US that’ll escape the social and environmental despoliation witnessed in California and Florida.
Destruction of this country’s social fabric has never bothered environmentalists. But what of its environmental resources? At the current rate of immigration, 40 percent of America’s lakes and streams are no longer fishable or swimmable. What will be their fate in the middle of the century?
As on most matters of national identity—language and faith, for example—elite and public attitudes diverge on immigration. “In nineteen polls from 1945 to 2002,” writes Samuel P. Huntington, “the proportion of the public favoring increased immigration never rose above 14 percent.” Between 70 and 80 percent of Americans want immigration cut—not because they are anti-immigrant (or “xenophobic”), as the president and most of the presidential contenders have libeled them—but because they experience mass immigration first-hand.
Indeed, government immigration policy reflects America’s “denationalized elites,” who are committed to transnational and sub-national identities. From their vantage point, cultivated usually from the serenity of their stately homes, these open-border utilitarians often tout the advantages of high population density. Apparently, Cairo and Calcutta are models for the specialization that comes with an increased division of labor. However, if American history (circa 1894) is anything to go by, the scarcity and high cost of labor helped propel this country into its position as the world’s leading industrial power. These factors, historian Paul Johnson has observed, “[G]ave the strongest possible motive not only to invent but to buy and install labor-saving machinery, the essence of high productivity, and so mass production.”
From his Nashville mansion, where he consumes in one month more than twice the electricity the average American household uses in a year, Gore preaches environmental asceticism. To assuage his conscience for flying a large and thirsty private G2B Jet, the Nobel laureate purchases carbon credits. If one is looking to criminalize “excessive” emissions of carbon, as Gore is, then buying carbon offsets is like getting a hit-and-run allowance. Exceed your allowable hit-and-runs, and you get to pay a lesser offender for the right to pick-off more pedestrians.
With such ethics, no wonder Gore has been mum about the impact on the environment of millions of Mexicans rushing the southern border, and then defecating and despoiling their way to their destinations in the US. Even Time magazine bewailed “a land turned into a vast latrine, revolting mounds of personal refuse everywhere and enough discarded plastic bags to stock a Wal-Mart.”
But Gore and his gangreens are cosmopolitans, communitarian citizens of the world. Population explosion they consider a global—not a local—problem. They’ll gladly trash Americans for their lavish lifestyles, but about the imperiled quality-of-life across American communities they couldn’t care less.
©2007 By Ilana Mercer