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Guest Editorial

Sierra Club sellout on immigration?

BY KATHLEENE PARKER

As the United States, in October, reaches the astounding plateau of 300 million Americans, I wonder if environmentalists forget that Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson and former Sierra Club Directors David Brower, Dave Foreman and Martin Linton all urged United States population stabilization.

Are they unaware that the Sierra Club in the 1980s called the United States the most overpopulated nation?

But that was before a contributor handed the Sierra Club over $100 million.

By appearances, it seems that, just as some in business will sacrifice America's future for the soft-slavery of cheap immigrant labor, the Sierra Club puts its own interests ahead of an environment that is buckling under a mostly immigration-driven population tsunami.

I served in the mid-1980s on the Sierra Club's national Population Issues Committee. We recognized that the United States is one of the planet's fastest growing nations and a main driver of global climate change.

We received no signals that our concerns were not shared. Club president Carl Pope himself used the "most overpopulated nation" reference, an acknowledgment of the huge footprint every American leaves on the environment. (The British Royal Academy of Sciences in the 1990s estimated that each person in an industrialized nation is the environmental equivalent of 10 or more in a developing nation.)

Our concerns were based in part on a 1970s Presidential Commission's warning that the United States should never reach the 300 million it will become this October. Worse, by 2050 we could be 400 million. And, like a speeding train careening past the station, that could be only the beginning, with a possible one billion by 2100-exactly the increase experienced in 20th century India! In contrast, most developed nations have stopped growing.

The 1970s Nixon-appointed Rockefeller Commission, made up of representatives of business, clergy, education and the environment, advised that there was no economic advantage to growth beyond the-then population of roughly 200 million. They warned, prophetically, that at 300 million, the government might be unable to adequately educate citizens, provide health care, protect the environment or maintain infrastructure.

Such concerns were discussed within the Sierra Club in the 1980s. But then, in the 1990s, inexplicably, the Sierra Club began to condemn as racist efforts to get the club to take a stand to reduce immigration to far-lower historical norms. The club hierarchy made similar accusations against candidates running for the board of directors on immigration-reduction or population-stabilization platforms. After a 2003 election, some candidates charged that the club's stand was due to pressure from a secret donor.

Then, an Oct. 27, 2004, the Los Angeles Times revealed that David Gelbaum, a math genius who applied mathematics to Wall Street investments, had contributed $101 million to the Sierra Club. Gelbaum insisted he did not influence the election but admitted that he had earlier told the club that "if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me."

The 1970s Presidential Commission urged the drafting of a national population policy which, had it happened, might have brought more prudent handling of our borders and spared Americans, whose birthrate is close to replacement level, a demographic slap in the face.

In 1996, the Population and Consumption Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development stated that to achieve sustainability we should undertake the dual tasks of population stabilization and greater production efficiency.

That the 1970s-recommended population policy did not happen is not environmentalists' fault, but that a premier environmental organization has repeatedly implied that sustainability is possible without population stabilization, from my view, compromises their credibility and ignores the threat to the environment and global-climate change of a billion resource-consuming Americans.

Kathleene Parker is a New Mexico author, publisher and journalist. Her email address is thundermesa@worldnet.att.net.

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