The Globalist Copout -- Immigration Numbers and the Population Problem

By Stuart Hurlbert
Volume 10, Number 3 (Spring 2000)
Issue theme: "Revised projections: Census Bureau report projects a more crowded and balkanized U.S."

The Globalist Copout states that since overpopulation is a global problem, the ways of dealing with it must be primarily global or international in nature. It is ok for individual nations to attempt to control their own birth rates. But they should not control or reduce their immigration rates, even if immigration is the major cause of their population growth. It would be "unfair" if one country were able to stabilize its population well ahead of other countries, especially if it were an industrialized western country. So goes the "reasoning."

The U.S., for example, should deal with its population problem by ameliorating the social, political, and economic problems in the rest of the world that cause so many to attempt to come here. Then, in some later century or millennium, they will prefer to stay home.

The Globalist Copout is a device used in the U.S. primarily by four groups of people:

1) as a mantra by the saintly innocents, who claim the moral high ground with vague references to "human rights", "social justice", etc. and who are apparently truly without understanding of the consequences of the open border or high immigration policies they advocate;

2) as a smokescreen by those who want high immigration rates so they will have a good supply of cheap labor:

3) as a smokescreen by those who want high immigration rates, but usually only for their own "group", however defined, in order to increase its political power; and

4) as an excuse for inaction by those afflicted by el fenómeno microcojónico, a condition especially widespread among university academics, environmental organizations, scientific societies, other professional organizations, and to a lesser extent among the general public.

This condition is characterized by acute cognitive dissonance which results from full awareness of the problems posed by high immigration, guilt feelings over their luck in being U.S. citizens, and great fear of being called names in public. The epithets favored by the attack dogs are "racist", "nativist", and "xenophobe". The attack dogs come mostly from the three other groups. But even microcojónicos, after enough coffee and/or Viagra, have been known to "go postal" on persons who raise immigration issues.

By far the largest and most influential group, it is the microcojónicos who are the primary obstacle to stabilization of the U.S. population and the long-term health of the Salton Sea, the Colorado River and its delta, and other environments of California and Baja California, among thousands of other ecosystems in decline.

Prime Practitioners

of The Global Copout

There are so many, choosing is hard! But below we give brief synopses of the copout stances of one political party, one scientific society, and one environmental organization.

The Green Party of California

This paragon of saintly innocence claims to advocate protection of the environment more strongly than do other political parties. Their internet website presents a detailed platform on population and immigration issues. It refers to that majority of the U.S. population favoring reductions in immigration as being "xenophobic" and "reactionary." As usual, such shameless rhetoric is a smokescreen for hiding weak arguments and forestalling reasoned debates the name-callers would be likely to lose.

The website says that even "militaristic fortification of the border" will not stop illegal immigration, that illegal immigrants do not displace native workers, and that they have a positive effect on the economy. Therefore the U.S. should provide full social and educational services to illegal immigrants and should not penalize persons or companies who employ them. The Party acknowledges that the population of California is expected to double in 30 years. It does not even hint that legal and illegal immigration are primary drivers of this increase.

The Greens are giving the Democrats and Republicans stiff competition for the Masters of Myopia Prize.

The Ecological Society of America

Composed of scientists who study deserts, prairies, and forests, lakes, rivers and oceans, the plants, animals and microbes that inhabit them, and the influence on them of man's activities, this is the largest and most diverse group of environmental scientists in the U.S. There is no group more knowledgeable about the relation between U.S. population growth and environmental degradation. But this society has shirked all responsibility for doing anything about it.

In 1991 it published "The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: An Ecological Research Agenda" (Ecology 72:371-412). As a research agenda and request for more funds for research, it is fine. But as stated by Ludwig et al. (Ecol. Applications 3:547-555), "Such a claim that basic research will lead to sustainable use of resources in the face of a growing human population may lead to a false complacency: instead of addressing the problems of population and excessive use of resources, we may avoid such difficult issues by spending money on basic ecological research."

The document addresses the global population issue briefly and says nothing whatsoever about U.S. population growth (despite coming from a U.S. organization).

A few years later it was suggested that the society prepare another white paper that dealt specifically with U.S. population growth, its causes and environmental impacts. The suggestion was turned down. The nation clearly cannot count on such academic-dominated societies of microcojdnicos to speak or act in the national interest on difficult topics - except perhaps in exchange for more research funds. Fortunately, the civic role they fear to play has been assumed by other organizations. These include Population-Environment Balance, Negative Population Growth, Californians for Population Stabilization, the Federation for Immigration Reform, and the Carrying Capacity Network, to name a few.

The Sierra Club Board of Directors

Until 1996 the Sierra Club, a U.S. environmental organization, advocated stabilization of the U.S. population via reduction in both rate of natural increase and immigration rates. in 1996 its Board of Directors and its so-called "Environmental Justice Committee" decided that population was a global problem and that the Club should have no position on U.S. immigration levels and policies.

Through a petition process, those wishing to have a policy in favor of reduced immigration levels forced the Board of Directors to have a membership-wide vote on the issue.

Using tactics that would make Gordon Liddy proud, the Board of Directors organized a campaign of disinformation and dirty tricks. These ad hominem attacks on initiative proponents as "racists" and "migrant bashers", along with membership apathy, defeated the initiative. Voting took place in April 1998 - 6 percent were in favor, 9 percent were against, and 85 percent of the members didn't vote.

In his victory press release, Sierra Club President Carl Pope crowed, "Our members have shown they understand that restricting immigration into the United States will not solve the environmental problems caused by global overpopulation" - as if the global scale is the only or most effective one at which the problem can be dealt with!

The cognitive dissonance underlying such amazing statements has been nicely analyzed in an article, "Cry, the Overcrowded Country" by Diana Hull (The Social Contract, Vol. IX, No. 4, Summer 1999).

About the author

Stuart Hurlbert, Ph.D., is professor of biology and director of the Center for Inland Waters, San Diego State University.