|| 106 sor
||ENSz kornyezetvedelmi palyazata diakoknak, h.ido: maj. (mind)
|| 120 sor
|+ - ||meadows-rovat (mind)
IMMIGRATION IS AN ISSUE FOR MORE THAN THE SIERRA CLUB
Given our history, our beneficent self-image, and the fact that we are
nearly all descendents of immigrants, Americans get emotional about
immigration. So the Sierra Club is in trouble.
As early as 1970, the Club resolved to "bring about stabilization of the
population first of the United States and then of the world." In 1989 it
stated: "immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will
permit achievement of population stabilization." These declarations did
not go so far as to suggest specific immigration limits -- which made some
Sierra Club members mad.
Population activists within the Club pushed for a zero net migration
policy. Social justice activists said no, the problem isn't poor
immigrants, it's rich residents driving sports utility vehicles. "We
could stop immigration tomorrow, but would that save the environment?
In 1996 the board decided that the issue was so divisive that the Club
should have no immigration policy at all. The population folks called
that a cop-out and forced a referendum, which is going on now. All
550,000 Sierra Club members have their ballots and are being deluged with
broadsides. Immigration opponents are accusing the leadership of denial,
disinformation, and dirty tricks. They in turn are being called racist
I have my own opinions about immigration, but I have even stronger ones
about the nature of the debate. There can be virtuous or selfish reasons
to be on either side. Pro-immigration positions are held by honest
sympathizers with the downtrodden of the earth, by employers of
minimum-wage laborers, and by the Home Builders Association of Northern
California. Anti-immigration positions can be consistent with racism or a
defense of one's own privileges, but also with justifiable concern about
environmental limits or the welfare of the poor already in the country.
I'm bothered by folks who claim noble reasons for their own side and
assume the worst of the other side.
I'm also bothered by the numbers. I wish the whole debate would go on
with more knowledge of and respect for the numbers.
In 1950 the U.S. population was 150 million. Now it is nearly 270
million. About half that increase has come from immigrants and their
The U.S. population currently grows by about 3 million a year. Of that
number 1.6 million come from natural increase, 1 million from legal
immigration, and roughly 400,000 from illegal immigrants.
While we take in 1.4 million immigrants a year, the third world increases
in population by 80 million a year.
The average number of children born to an American woman has been around
2.0 for the past 25 years. That means our population will stop growing by
natural increase in about 20 more years, when we finally have more older
people moving out of reproductive age than young people moving in.
About 200,000 people emigrate from the United States every year. A policy
of zero net migration would permit that many annual immigrants.
Immigrants classified as refugees average 125,000 per year.
The United States takes in more immigrants than all other industrial
If immigration and natural increase rates remain unchanged, the U.S.
population would reach 340 million by 2025 and 540 million (and still
rising) by 2060.
If illegal immigration were stopped and legal immigration limited to
200,000 a year and birth and death rates do not change, the U.S.
population would stabilize at 320 million in 2025.
The net cost to U.S. taxpayers of public goods and services supplied to
immigrants (taking into account the taxes paid by those immigrants) is $68
billion a year -- $250 for each man, woman, and child of us.
There is also a cost, estimated at $133 billion a year, in lower wages and
fewer jobs for our low-skilled workers with whom immigrants are likely to
Over 90 percent of our old-growth forests are gone and 99 percent of our
tall-grass prairies and half our wetlands and vast quantities of soil and
cropland and hundreds of species of plants and animals. We are pumping
down groundwater aquifers, piling up dumps, and pouring forth toxic
materials. Any land whose resource stocks are dropping while its
pollution sinks are filling is, by definition, being used beyond its
Some number of people at some standard of living in any nation is too
many. We don't help either the rich or the poor by going beyond that
number. What is it? Who decides? Could we be beyond it? Is stopping
immigration the way to deal with our limits, or cutting our birth rate
further, or reducing our consumption? (No one seems to be creating Sierra
Club referenda to set limits on consumption.) Could we move toward less
wasteful lifestyles and greater social justice at the same time we take
seriously the task of controlling our numbers? Might those objectives
even go together?
Ignoring these questions because they are uncomfortable, because they are
emotional, because they cause decent people to call each other names, does
not make them go away. They are questions not just for the Sierra Club,
but for us all.
(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at
|+ - ||ENSz kornyezetvedelmi palyazata diakoknak, h.ido: maj. (mind)
> ---------------- palyazati kiiras angol nyelven ------------------
> World Environment Day 1998
> ASAP: Atlas of Student Action for the Planet
> [ To request a Spanish or French form, please e-mail us at:
> and write `Form-S' for Spanish and `Form-F' for
> French in the subject field. ]
> The United Nations is interested in what your school or community
> group is doing to protect the environment. The lessons you have
> learned, the solutions you have devised, the problems you have
> encountered, are of interest to other schools and groups around the
> world, as they might be facing similar problems.
> The United Nations CyberSchoolBus will put together an on-line global
> atlas of student action on the environment and we want to include your
> school's contribution. The United Nations CyberSchoolBus, is an
> on-line educational service. The CyberSchoolBus offers a wealth of
> information, activities and teaching resources designed to engage as
> well as inform.
> Please help us, and the planet, by sending a 100-150 word description
> of what your class or group has done as a contribution to the
> protection, restoration and enhancement of the environment.
> The areas of activity and accomplishment are endless. They could deal
> with energy efficiency, marine or freshwater protection, wildlife
> conservation, community clean-ups, waste recycling, soil conservation
> and forest protection, or any area you feel approrpriate.
> The United Nations will collect your submissions and make them
> available on-line as part of its observance of World Environment Day,
> 5 June 1998. Everyone's contributions will be recognized at an event
> held at the UN.
> How to enter:
> 1. Any class/school group at primary, intermediate or secondary level
> may enter.
> 2. Any environmental action taken since September 1997 is eligible for
> submission. If you have not done anything yet, it is time for you to
> get on with it! Plan and carry out an action, then report it to us by
> the DEADLINE of 17 May 1998.
> 3. A school may send one or more entries, but no single class can send
> more than one. Each report must be certified by the
> 4. All entries must be submitted via e-mail (see the form below) or on
> the World Wide Web. In case you yourself do not have access to either,
> you can send your submissions through any office or person with
> access to e-mail.
> 5. You may submit your entry in English, French or Spanish.
> The e-mail form with instructions is below. In order to access the
> submission form on the UN CyberSchoolBus web site, go to:
> REMEMBER: Your report must not exceed 150 words. No entries will be
> accepted after 17 May 1998. And every report must be certified by a
> teacher or group supervisor.
> All valid entries will become part of the final document, an on-line
> global atlas of environmental action. Of these, the most innovative
> and interesting reports will be selected for inclusion in a printed
> Atlas of Student Action for the Planet (ASAP) Submission Form
> Fill out and return this form to us by
> 1. Copying ALL of this Form and pasting it into a new e-mail.
> 2. Type your information and entry BETWEEN the SQUARE BRACKETS. If you
> do not type between the square brackets or delete one of the brackets,
> your submission will not be properly processed.
> Class/Grade Level: [ 7th ]
> School Name: [ International School ]
> School Address: [ 475 Rte de Shane ]
> 3. For the heading 'Category' below, please pick one of the following
> as appropriate to your project: energy conservation / air pollution /
> water or marine conservation / wildlife and forest protection / waste
> reduction and recycling / community clean-up
> 4. E-MAIL the completed form with all your answers to:
> by the DEADLINE of:
> 15 May 1998
> English Language Form
> Class/Grade level: [ ]
> School/Community Group Full Name: [ ]
> School/ Community Group Full Address: [ ]
> City: [ ]
> Province / State: [ ]
> Zip Code: [ ]
> Country: [ ]
> Project name: [ ]
> Project summary (max. 10 words): [ ]
> Category (see instructions above): [ ]
> Environmental action taken by students (max. 150 words): [ ]
> Responsible Teacher / Supervisor: [ ]
> E-mail address of responsible person: [ ]
> Name of School Principal / Group Director: [ ]
> Check out our website at :
> Please feel free to forward this message to other groups or schools
> that may have a similar interest.
> For questions, please e-mail