"Redwoods Or Immigrants?" That's America's Choice On Earth Day 2007

April 22 is Earth Day.

But for genuine environmentalists, April truly is the cruelest month. So many of those who claim to care about the health of the planet are stuck in an ideology that ignores the obvious: As Jacques Cousteau observed: "Population growth is the primary source of environmental damage."

And the elected officials most insistent that action be taken on climate change are often the same ones who want to welcome unlimited foreigners to the country with the largest environmental footprint: the U.S.

The signs are everywhere that the United States is full—and then some.


  • Arizona has an arid climate (hence the name), but it has recently received even less-than-normal rain. The vital reservoir Lake Powell fell by nearly 80 feet as of 2003 and is now at its lowest level since it was filled in 1980. A recent Tucson headline read Water crisis possible here within 3 years, because spring runoff into Lake Powell has been below normal for 9 of the past 11 years. The fire season will start earlier this year and ranchers will have less water for stock. Tucson may face water restrictions by 2010. Yet Arizona is the fastest growing state in terms of population growth.

And even if we could solve the technical problems presented by immigration—what about the amenity issue? Do we really want the sprawl?

One "solution" to water shortfall: recycling, a strategy in the pipeline of some southern California communities. But a serious drawback is the health concern that residual drugs and other undesired substances may remain after treatment. Even purified sewage may contain common contaminants like detergents, fragrances, caffeine, estrogen and painkillers.

Droughts come and go. They are a normal part of nature. But when humans overpopulate a dry region like Arizona and expect to have lush greenery, at some point the supply of water is not going to keep up with the demand. If the "permanent drought" predicted for the Southwest is for real, then importing additional tens of millions of people over the next few decades is terrible public policy—with predictable results.

Another disturbing marker: the U.S. is now a food importer after being a food exporter for many years. The U.S. has been the food supplier to the world in times of starvation—but farmland is now being lost to soil degradation and development.

Exploding population growth, whether from legal or illegal immigration, is causing some of America's best farmland to be paved over. A study in California found roughly 26 acres of farmland were removed from production each day between 2002 and 2004.

In just two years, more than 18,800 acres of farmland in several San Joaquin Valley counties became subdivisions, shopping malls or other developments, setting a new state record for loss of farmland, according to newly released state data. A healthy real estate and construction market spurred farmers in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Tulare and Merced counties to sell 18,801 acres between June 2002 and June 2004. [San Joaquin Farmland Disappearing At Record Rate Associated Press, February14, 2007]

Food availability is an interesting topic. It's part environment and part national security. Being dependent on a volatile and unfriendly global marketplace for food puts us in just as precarious a position as not having our own energy supply. The 800 pound Chinese gorilla is about to make its presence known in both areas. Environmentalist Lester Brown has been warning for years that food security is threatened by China, which rapidly has become the world's largest wheat importer. It has quickly gone from basket case to powerful food buyer with the cash in hand to purchase what it wants. The global food market will likely feel the effects over the next years.

Al Gore testified before House and Senate panels in March to promote climate change awareness and action. But as usual, the discussion left out the real "root cause"—a phrase which liberals love, for some reason—namely explosive human population growth, upsetting nature's restorative function.

Neither Gore nor the professional greenies like the Sierra Club are willing to take on the topic of immigration, or even population growth generally. Since the Sierra Club renounced its bipartisan past to join up with the extreme left like MoveOn.org and George Soros, its opinions have lost currency among the public as a whole. Many Americans now regard the Sierra Club (rightly) as irrelevant socialists in hiking boots.

As we say in my home state of Texas (April 21 is San Jacinto Day!): when you're in a hole, stop digging. America should not be encouraging massive population growth through immigration, illegal and legal. Yet, many of the Democrats who were hanging on Al Gore's every word have the worst immigration voting records, e.g. Sen Boxer with a recent grade of D.

We know there is some tiny awareness among the political elites that there are numerical (and political) limits. In the previous Congress, hurried changes were made to the downright evil Senate bill to reduce its expanded legal immigration from a possible 200 million over 20 years to 66 million. No one had bothered to calculate the numbers until Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation did the Senators' work for them.

From the conservationist view, increased legal immigration is just as bad as millions of illegals streaming through open borders. The optimal number of immigrants vis a vis environmental concerns is: zero.

ZERO. No more, nix, nada. After bingeing on population growth for decades, America needs a diet. We are already hugely overpopulated, in terms of sustaining natural resources for our own use and that of future generations. Let's give it a rest.

Reportedly a recent pro-borders rally at UC Santa Cruz included a young person who held a sign reading "Redwoods or immigrants?"

That's the bottom line. We can protect the remaining natural glories of this American land—or we can live increasingly regimented, overcrowded lives surrounded by pavement.

VDARE.COM's Earth Day question: which is it to be?

Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She agrees with Mark Twain's remark, "Whiskey's for drinking; water's for fighting." Here's to water!