millions of Greenies who claim to be deadly serious about
Saving the World from global warming by limiting carbon
emissions, how many are really sincere?
There`s one surefire test of sincerity:
Do they demand
reductions in immigration to the U.S.?
almost none of them do.
The causes of global warning are disputed,
but let`s assume for the sake of analysis that human output
of “greenhouse gases” does indeed cause global warming. It ought to be
close to self-evident that immigration to America increases
this country`s—and the world`s—output of those gases.
logic is very simple: If immigrants from poor countries
successfully assimilate to American norms of earning and
consuming, they, and their descendents, will emit vastly
more carbon than if they stayed home.
According to the UN`s
International Energy Agency,
residents of America in 2007 put out an average of 19.1 tons
of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by fossil fuel
combustion—e.g., by driving around, by being
cool in summer,
contrast, the residents of Mexico each emit 4.1 tons per
year. In other words, the typical inhabitant of America
churns out 4.6 times as much carbon dioxide as the typical
inhabitant of Mexico.
an average Mexican immigrates to the U.S. and fully
assimilates to average American patterns of earning and
spending, he will emit 4.6 times as much carbon dioxide as
if he stayed home in his own country. (Even more important
are the impact of his descendents, which we`ll get to
table gives a sampling of the carbon emissions per capita of
immigrant importing and exporting countries.
in the grand tradition of
pump out an American-like 18.7 tons of carbon dioxide per
year. Therefore, if an average Australian moves to the U.S.
and adopts the average American`s way of life, the net
effect on global carbon emissions would be negligible: i.e.,
Multiplier” is barely above 1.0.
right hand column in the table lists the number of adults
who want to immigrate to each country according to a vast
Gallup poll of
people in 135 countries. Around the world, no less than 700
million adults—one out of six of the total—want to emigrate.
America is the first choice of 165,000,000. Plus 60,000,000
others prefer to move to
which are both
from the perspective of per capita carbon emissions.
contrast to the Immigration Destination Countries, which
typically emit much carbon per person, the Immigration
Source Countries don`t. Thus the Immigration Multiplier for
Mexico is 4.6 because residents of Mexico pump out only 22
percent as much carbon per person as residents of America.
The -15,000,000 in Mexico`s right hand column means that in
the Gallup survey,
of the adults still left in Mexico said they would like to
leave. That equates to 15,000,000 adults (n.b. this is not
counting children and future offspring).
course, it`s also important to remember that not all
immigrants come from Mexico. Many Americans don`t realize
it, but by Third World standards, Mexicans on average aren`t
particularly poor. According to the
there are no less that 5,366,204,659 people living in
countries with lower average per capita incomes than Mexico.
it another way, 79% of world lives in countries poorer than
commonly implied in the MSM that Mexicans immigrate to the
U.S. to avoid seeing their children die of starvation. Yet,
life expectancy in Mexico (76.3
years) is now essentially as high (97.5 percent) in the U.S.
No, Mexicans don`t immigrate to America to
live longer—they immigrate to live
larger: to have a
large vehicle, a large house, a large TV, and a large
family. All of which equate to large carbon emissions.
white liberals tend to imagine that Mexico has a
economy, and thus that Mexicans must be blank slates who
would naturally follow white liberals` advice.
from the discovery of oil in Mexico (by the great
in 1910), Mexico has long been, by Third World norms,
The government of Mexico has subsidized
purchases for decades.
return to my theme: In most other immigrant-exporting
countries, the carbon emission immigration multiplier is
than that of Mexico. For instance, if a normal Dominican
immigrates to America and successfully assimilates his
carbon emissions would increase 9.7 times. For most Central
Americans, the Immigration Multiplier is around 20X. For
because Mexicans comprise the single largest group of
immigrants, and because their carbon Immigration Multiplier
appears to be fairly typical, I`ll use Mexicans to
illustrate the effects of immigration.
I`ve brought these inconvenient truths up in discussions, on
the rare occasions when Save the Worlders respond logically,
they sometimes dredge up the response that Mexico will,
surely Real Soon Now, emit as much carbon per capita as the
see much evidence for that in the
Mexico`s per capita carbon emissions were estimated to be 18
percent as high as America`s in 1982, and 22 percent as high
a quarter of a century later in 2007. At that rate, it would
take many generations to close the gap.
Global warming activists haven`t found many other objections
to sputter. Their thought processes tend to be restricted to
Carbon Bad! Does not compute… These are
representative of the kind of childishness that passes for
political discourse in America today. The feuds of
high school girls
are more reality-based than what passes for current
which consists largely of 99 percent
fact-free status posturing.
intellectual decline? At present, Americans are, by
historical standards, extraordinarily rich. Thus, we assume
we will always be able to afford to indulge in petulance
rather than use
aren`t quite as rich as we thought
we were three years ago. But our intellectual maturity
hasn`t caught up yet.
examine some logical objections to my argument for the
global warming worriers.
a very simplified model in which an immigrant from Mexico
will either succeed or fail at assimilating to American
norms on two dimensions: Earning and Consuming.
Let`s start with the upper left hand corner of this
Dream. In this scenario, the typical Mexican who
immigrates to the U.S. achieves the American Dream. He
succeeds at consuming like an American (e.g., big
big air-conditioned house in
and so forth) and also (this is important) earning like an
American. Therefore, his contribution to global greenhouse
gas emission will be vastly greater than
stayed home in Mexico.
Even more importantly, so will his descendants` carbon
lower right corner, we see the opposite outcome:
Here, the Mexican immigrant fails to earn a better life for
himself and his offspring. He does not succeed at
assimilating to American norms of earning and consuming. He
and his descendents
to their low-productivity jobs. Under this scenario, Mexican
pay enough taxes
to make up for all the
services they consume
and all the
they do to the public schools.
Yet, at least from a greenhouse gas perspective, an
would be great
are constantly admonished that that
it`s racist to
even entertain the thought
that many Mexicans are unlikely to fully assimilate.
In the lower left corner is the unspoken liberal assumption
about the impact of Mexican immigration:
Ecotopia. This logical possibility is the favorite of the sort of
white liberals who have
Of course, it is the least logical or possible.
assume Mexican immigrants rapidly achieve American levels of
income to pay the taxes for all the social programs that
progressives favor. Yet, for unexplained reasons, the
Mexican immigrants and their progeny choose to live like
whose hobby is a “sustainable” lifestyle based on walking to Whole Foods for heirloom
tomatoes. On the rare occasions when these Mexican immigrant
families drive anywhere, it would be in their vegetable
Ecotopia assumption is the only logical way to square
enthusiasm about immigration with alarmism about greenhouse
course, this view is seldom articulated fully—because it`s
absurd to anybody who knows any Mexicans other than that
cool guy from Cuernavaca they met at film school.
a coincidence that perhaps the finest contribution by
Chicanos to American popular art in the mid-20th Century was
cars—the bigger the better.
contrast, how many Mexicans do you see driving Prius
hybrids? As far as I can tell, Toyota hasn`t yet bothered
selling its Prius in Mexico (population 112,000,000). Nor do
many Mexican-Americans want one either. A poll of readers of
found that only 3 percent were Hispanic. If you are familiar
with the ethnic layout of Los Angeles County, you`ll enjoy
of Prius registrations by zip code.
never comes up in global warming worriers`
conversations—because they never pay attention to Mexicans.
In the upper right corner of the quadrant, the worst of both
worlds happen: Bush
Bubble. In this scenario, the Mexican immigrant and his
offspring spend like an American—buying a big house, a big
vehicle, and a big TV, all on credit—but earn like a
Mexican. They eventually
on their mortgages.
indeed, this is
in the exurbs of California during the Bush Bubble years: a
baby boom, a housing and spending bubble, and a crash of
Moreover, the more you think about the impact of Mexican
immigration, the worse it is for carbon emissions.
Immigration contributes both directly and indirectly to
sprawl. Mexican immigration to cities tends to drive
and American-born Hispanics, to the exurbs to find decent
public school districts—at the cost of long commutes for
parents. For example, immigration into Los Angeles, with its
mild climate, spawned an enormous housing bubble in the hot
where air conditioning costs are high.
Kotkin has often pointed out, most immigrants in the 21st
Century want to spend as little time in the inner city as
possible and instead move directly to a suburb or exurb.
Mexican immigrants tend to have higher birthrates in America
than they would have had if they stayed home. In California
in 2005, foreign-born Latinas were having babies at a rate
children per lifetime versus about
for women in Mexico and 1.6 for American-born white women in
On the whole, we can be sure that
immigration`s overall effect will be some combination of
Bush Bubble. It`s
not a coincidence that
Ecotopias, such as Portland, are found far from the
Let`s assume for the sake of calculating
immigration`s impact on carbon emissions in 2050 that the
optimists are right and
American Dream is
the standard outcome.
impact of greenhouse gases on global warming is finally
brought to the attention of global warming activists, many
scoff at the idea that immigration could have any sizable
impact on the U.S. population.
is simply ignorance. The Pew Research Center reported in
“If current trends
continue, the population of the United States will rise to
438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of
the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to
2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new
projections developed by the Pew Research Center.”[Immigration
to Play Lead Role In Future U.S. Growth,
by Jeffrey Passel and D`Vera Cohn, February 11, 2008]
that`s 116 million additional people in America due to
immigration from 2005 onward. (Perhaps another 50 or 60
million of that forecasted population of 438 million would
be due to immigration from 1965-2004.)
Confronted with this logic, global warming activists tend to
Have To Do
is cut emissions per capita even more to make up for
immigration means that we`re falling behind by about
one-third before we even begin to cut. How does that make
sense if we have to Save the World?
Each American would have to personally
reduce his or her carbon emissions by 28 percent by 2050,
simply to make up for post-2005 immigration. And that`s just
to keep the national carbon emission total flat.
emissions becomes even more difficult due to immigration.
Conclusion: When you find yourself in a hole, the first
thing to do is to stop digging.
is widely denounced for accounting for about 20 percent of
world carbon dioxide outputs. Yet, the 2005-2050 addition to
the American population caused by immigration would alone
account for an additional eight percentage points of the
effect of post-2005 immigration to America (taking into
account what the immigrants would have emitted back home in
Mexico or other countries), is six or seven points. In other
words, by 2050, post-2005 immigration to the U.S. will have
the impact on greenhouse gases of another one-third of an
America coming into existence.
impact by 2100 will be significantly greater.
line: U.S. immigration restriction is a relatively simple
and sure way to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.
almost never comes up in current debate says a great deal
about what might laughingly be described as modern