The biggest environmental threat: 3rd world immigration to developed nations.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Artful D0dger, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. I care about the environment, do you?

    Immigration Control and Biodiversity
    in North America

    [Author’s note: In July 2008, the editors of
    Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment invited me to submit an 800-word essay that responded to the question: Are increased attempts
    to control immigration from Mexico (including
    building fences and increasing militarization of
    the border) likely to have a net positive, negative, or neutral effect on biodiversity in the
    U.S. and Mexico? An introduction to and brief
    literature review on the topic was prepared by
    Lori Hidinger (2009) as background. This is the
    draft of my essay that was accepted by Frontiers Associate Editor Peter Mooreside; I have
    modified it by giving it a title and by expanding
    by a few lines my quote from Hardin’s essay.
    The politics surrounding later rejection of this
    essay by Frontiers Editor Sue Silver are detailed in Hurlbert (2011).]
    ori’s question takes two complex issues —
    immigration and protection of biodiversity — and tries to guide us to a focused
    discussion by posing a question that considers only U.S. and Mexican biodiversity
    and, implicitly, illegal immigration only “from Mexico.”
    [Actually, it was never made clear whether the question
    was drafted by Hidinger or Frontiers editors. S.H.]
    Biodiversity in both countries would benefit
    An answer must be predicated on many assumptions, but my short one is that a great reduction in illegal
    immigration will have positive effects on biodiversity
    in both Mexico and the U.S. Additional benefits to biodiversity will accrue to both countries if rates of legal
    immigration were also cut back to moderate levels, say
    100,000-300,000 per year in contrast to ca. 1,000,000 in
    recent years.
    The reasons are simple. A growing human population — and all that implies for wildland destruction,
    resource consumption and waste generation — is the
    single greatest threat to biodiversity and other environmental values. In the U.S. mean family size (“total fertility rate”) dropped to about 1.8 children per woman
    more than three decades ago. If the U.S. had not allowed
    greatly increased legal and illegal immigration starting
    in the 1960s, we could have achieved U.S. population
    stabilization by now.
    As it is, continued high immigration rates and large
    family sizes of predominantly poor and uneducated people from Mexico and Central America have raised mean
    U.S. family size now to 2.1 children, and it continues to
    For Mexico the biodiversity question is more complicated. Education and family planning programs have
    been successful in getting mean family size down to
    2.4 in that country, and its rate of population growth to
    about 1.1 percent per year. Export to the U.S. of many
    of its poorer citizens has contributed to the reduction of
    both Mexico’s mean family size and its rate of population growth, just as it has increased these for the U.S.
    Halting illegal immigration from Mexico to the
    U.S. and reducing the annual quota for Mexican legal
    immigrants (and those from other countries) would serve
    as a wake-up call for Mexico to take stronger measures
    to lower its population growth rate. Benefits to biodiversity in Mexico would follow.
    Habitat and wildlife issues
    along the border
    No question about it, construction of border fences
    to impede illegal immigration, as well as vegetationdestroying, trash-dumping behavior of the illegal immigrants themselves, causes environmental damage in
    some locations to particular habitats and species. Lori
    does a good job of introducing the literature on that.

    Unfortunately the environmental organizations
    and scientists who have raised the biggest ruckus about
    damage caused by border fences have been a bit disingenuous and narrow in their focus, thus losing some
    credibility with other scientists and the general public.
    They have focused too exclusively on environmental
    impacts of border fences, and been silent on the much
    greater but spatially more diffused environmental damage resulting from illegal immigration’s contribution
    to U.S. population growth. Illegal immigrants and visa
    overstayers just since the 1960s, for example, plus their
    descendants, may now number somewhere on the order
    of 30 to 60 million, i.e., 10-20 percent of the U.S. population. These additional tens of millions in our population have a collective negative impact on biodiversity
    and other environmental values that is orders of magnitude greater than any impacts that will ever be caused by
    border fences.
    An ethical and philosophical choice
    A core issue in debates about environment-population connections is whether action — for the very few
    willing to actually act — should be based on a globalist
    or an internationalist ethic. The distinction is discussed
    at length by Beck and Kolankiewicz (2000). The internationalist ethic is that sovereign nation-states are to be
    respected, that they will work together but in their own
    self-interests, and that self-interests should include assisting the success of other nations. The globalist ethic
    favors the “elimination of the sovereign nation-state as
    a locus of community, loyalty, economy, laws, culture
    and language” (Beck and Kolankiewicz 2000) and large
    transfers of national power and responsibilities to international bodies, such as the World Court, European
    Union, United Nations, and so on.
    Garrett Hardin (1989) pointed out why, pragmatically and ethically, an internationalist philosophy is
    likely to be the most successful one for dealing with the
    overpopulation problem. He suggested,
    [N]ever globalize a problem if it can possibly
    be solved locally.…We will make no progress
    with population problems, which are a root
    cause of both hunger and poverty, until we
    deglobalize them.… We are not faced with a
    single global population problem but, rather,
    with about 180 [now 200+] separate national
    population problems. All population controls
    must be applied locally; local governments
    are the agents best prepared to choose local
    means. Means must fit local traditions. For
    one nation to attempt to impose its ethical
    principles on another is to violate national
    sovereignty and endanger international peace.
    The only legitimate demand that nations can
    make on one another is this: “Don’t try to
    solve your population problem by exporting
    your excess people to us.” All nations should
    take this position, and most do.
    I have criticized the “globalist copout” in harder
    language, making special reference to the Ecological
    Society of America, Green Party, and Sierra Club (Hurlbert 2000). Such organizations take, implicitly or explicitly, the position that
    overpopulation is a
    global problem, and
    that an individual nation with a high level
    of immigration may
    not or should not
    reduce those levels
    in its own interests.
    They prefer that immigration issues be
    kept out of their publications, meetings, platforms, policy statements, and political action alerts. That is why
    when the U.S. Senate passed a bill (SB2611) in May
    2006 that would have roughly doubled the rate of U.S.
    population growth by massively increasing immigration
    rates, no mainline environmental organization or scientific society opposed it or even notified their members
    about it, let alone pointed out the environmentally disastrous consequences it would generate. Fortunately, the
    bill was killed by wiser heads in the House of Representatives and an uprising of literally hundreds of thousands
    of ordinary voters more alert than the scientific and environmental communities. â–_

    Stuart H. Hurlbert is an emeritus professor of biology
    at San Diego State University and is currently secretary
    of Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact: