In his State of-the-Union address, President Bush proposed various environmental-energy initiatives that received enthusiastic applause from Democrats and Republicans alike. But, regardless of how one feels about the taxation issue or renewable energy sources, without a reduction in consumption, this legislation is quite pointless.
Helping twelve million (or twenty) illegal aliens to go home—now that would reduce consumption. Blaming oil companies and U.S. auto manufacturers for producing gas-guzzling vehicles—mere political rhetoric.
This Democratic writer would never suggest that Americans consume resources without regard to the environmental consequences. Nevertheless, American per capita consumption cannot be reduced without reducing the capitae. Immigrants are people. The more people there are, then the more consumption. Immigrants do not move to America to reduce their consumption.
When polled about their immigration preferences, most Americans voice discontent about the current situation. But among the least-cited reasons for concern: immigration-induced growth in America's population, according to a poll sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies. However, when told that the U.S. population will increase by 100 million in the next 50 years if immigration is not checked, 64 percent of respondents expressed shock. [The Public's View of Immigration, November 2006.]
According to the poll, self-identified Democrats, professionals, high-income households ($70K+), and Western dwellers were the respondents who voiced the least concern about congestion and overcrowding. For those old enough to receive senior-citizen discounts, this might come as a surprise. In the 60's and 70's liberal Democrats worried about "overpopulation". But over-immigration has changed all that.
To speak of too many immigrants is to be called "racist" and that still plays an important role in the inability of some Democrats to take their bleeding hearts out of overdrive. Many Democrats recycle, drive hybrid cars and avoid eating meat. But they fail to engage their brains and consider that their reduction in consumption is eclipsed by millions of additional people who, figuratively speaking, consume all the food they leave on their plates.
An example of the lack of thinking: the recent oil-company taxation vote in the House. Congress passed the measure on a 264-163 vote. The bill would repeal tax breaks designed to spur extraction of fossil fuels and use the savings of $14 billion to develop renewable fuels and energy efficiencies. In general, Democrats voted for the bill and Republicans against it.
According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. population reached 300 million last October. (Many believe the U.S. actually achieved that number some time ago.) Either way, things are getting very crowded and a future with our current, immigration-driven population growth will only make things worse.
How fast is our population growing? According to Carrying Capacity Network, the U.S. population is growing at 1.1 percent per year which means that our current population will double in 65 years. In 2072, the U.S. population will reach 600 million and will be close to one billion in 2100.
What will that feel like? A Sunday walk down Nanjing Road in Shanghai, China, feels like a crowded elevator, only on a grander scale. People with claustrophobia should avoid it. At least, Shanghai is relatively clean but a similar stroll down the streets of Calcutta, while dodging people, cows, and streetcars, defies description. Many parts of California feel the same way, especially during special events that draw crowds. But in places such as Bangkok and Tokyo, the crowds never diminish.
Our population increase is being driven by over-immigration. It is not just new immigrants arriving but also births to immigrants that are causing the rise in population. Just under a fourth of all births in the U.S. are to immigrant women. Why do we need this? Can we think of anything in our lives that will be improved by more people?
Democrats have control of Congress. What are they saying? Every elected Democrat and Republican with a pulse seems to be running for president in 2008 but Democrats are supposedly environmentalists. What do the Democrats say about immigration and over population? Nothing. What do the Democrats say about more Americans causing an increase in consumption? Nothing.
What do we hear from the majority Democrats? We hear about energy independence and decreased dependence on foreign oil. We hear about renewable energy resources. But how will the U.S. decrease energy use with more and more people taking showers, heating homes, flushing toilets and driving cars? Democrats can freeze in their homes and drive battery-powered cars until the cows come home but if they continue to support millions of additional immigrants coming to the U.S., conservation, alone, will not work.
On our present immigration course, the new people arriving . . . and driving and eating and washing and heating will consume all the conserved resources. And oil is not the only problem—water, farmland . . . and on and on.
The late ecologist, Garrett Hardin (see www.GarrettHardinSociety.org) said: "The financial world habitually speaks of yearly 'production' of oil. But the unvarnished truth is this: we human beings have never produced so much as a single barrel of petroleum. Only nature produces oil—and at a very slow rate."
And lately, nature hasn't been keeping up with demand in case anyone hasn't noticed. To use other Hardin wording: "Do we have an energy shortage or a people longage?"
Most folks have a hard time understanding the severity of our current energy problem. No wonder we find it so difficult; barrels and joules and BTU's. All most Americans understand is the price at the pump.
But the January 2007 issue of Spectrum, the journal for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, printed a citizen-friendly chart which is quite sobering. Presently, the world consumes about one cubic mile of oil per year. According to scientists, for 50 years, it would take 104 coal-fired plants, 32,850 wind turbines, 91,250,000 solar panels, 52 nuclear power plants, or 4 Three-Gorges Dams to produce a like amount of oil. All of these energy sources present significant environmental problems.
Considering these facts, the President's and the Democrats' proposals to decrease dependence on foreign oil is laughable.
Americans have the highest rate of energy consumption per person in the world. If environmental-minded elected officials really want to reduce consumption, why are they importing more people who aspire to increase their consumption to the American level? That is the question we should all be asking the Democratic majority.
"The quality of life and the quantity of life are inversely related", said Garrett Hardin. The Democratic majority must be pressed on this issue. We need an immigration moratorium to preserve our environment and our quality of life. An environmentally-concerned immigration enthusiast is an oxymoron.
Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.