VDARE - Eclipsed Environmentalists, by Meredith Burke

Eclipsed Environmentalists

[Peter Brimelow writes: Anyone who has been on a phone-in talk show about immigration knows that they're out there - liberals who worry about immigration. "I never thought I'd be agreeing with [you/ Pat Buchanan/ etc.] but..." they begin. And they have internally-consistent reasons for their concerns - often to do with environmentalism (or conservation, as Theodore Roosevelt called it back when it was a Republican issue). But these liberals just never seem to have any influence on their organizations. This intriguing phenomenon is the subject of the Summer 2000 issue of Social Contract Magazine http://www.thesocialcontract.com/. It is analyzed for VDARE by Meredith Burke, a demographer and nationally-published public policy commentator who is a Senior Fellow, with the Washington D.C-based Negative Population Growth, Inc. (www.npg.org).]

No major environmental group was present in the room where the Democratic Party platform for the 2000 Election was adopted on July 29. The platform appears strongly pro-environment. It endorses Al Gore's pledges to restore the Everglades, restrict oil and gas drilling off the California and Florida coasts, and prohibit drilling or logging in the wildest areas of the national forests. That these goals must be linked to other policy areas in order to attain internal consistency goes unrecognized.

Members of the "Progressive" Caucus to the Democratic National Convention reacted sharply to the official platform. According to The New York Times, they "complained that their views had been ignored and that the Gore campaign had pressured committee members to vote against their planks.

"'They talk about a big tent,' said Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland. 'But this tent just got a bit smaller.'"

The Progressives, whose views are essentially in harmony with those of Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, oppose unfettered global trade and the World Trade Organization. Democratic Party centrists sought to appease organized labor by a relabelling: "fair" trade instead of "free trade," meaning workers rights, human rights, and environmental protections should be negotiated in all trade agreements.

However, the platform also says, "It's clear we live in a globalized world, and that there is no turning back."

This statement, deliberately ambiguous as to its policy implications, fails in at least two respects. Firstly, does it mean that national sovereignty is outdated? Apparently Democratic stalwarts believe so and indeed tacitly concede it without any sort of national referendum of American citizenry. Secondly, presumably the "environmental protections" referred to in this section of the platform mean those applicable to Third World nations. They do NOT mean the U.S. environment should be protected from the consequences of an open border to trade - and immigration.

Environmental stalwart David Brower recently resigned from the Sierra Club board alleging they were ignoring population's role in environmental degradation. Joining with forty other activists he has formed "Environmentalists Against Gore" (EAG) http://www.gilanet.com/amerabo/gore.htm. Their founding proclamation asserts (among other charges):

"We've seen him (Gore) talk about fighting sprawl while he's promoting sleazy real estate deals that would move industrial jobs away from urban Miami onto farmland between two National Parks. We've heard him lecture the world about preserving nature in the tropics when he is encouraging the big sugar plantations to continue polluting our own Everglades. We've read candidate Gore's press releases about protecting our beaches from offshore drilling, and then watched Vice President Gore say it is none of his business if his own Administration promotes offshore drilling in Florida, California, and Alaska..." (Press release, July 21, 2000)

But the Progressives and the Greens also display inconsistencies and blind spots, and hence possible future factionalization. If you condemn free trade, do you also condemn free movement of people in an overcrowded globe? Can your environmental goals be realized without an explicit population policy? The EAG manifesto is mute on the latter. I do not know if Mr. Brower fought for the inclusion of a population plank, without which none of the committee's environmental goals can be attained.

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader has addressed not the general topic of immigration but the narrow one of illegal entrants. On the CNN web talk show "Talk Back Live" (http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/TalkBack/index.html) (July 6, 2000) host Bobbie Battista asked guest Ralph Nader, "What would you do about the influx of illegal aliens?"

Nader correctly identified employers who benefit from exploitation of illegal aliens as lawbreakers we need pursue. He also condemned the brain drain. He proceeded, however, to pinpoint U.S. foreign policy (supporting "oligarchs" instead of the "peasants and workers") as a prime cause of the "desperate economic condition" that triggers illegal migration. He showed no awareness of Mexico's demographic situation, where since the late 1970s huge cohorts have annually attained labor force entrance age, reflecting the improved child survival rates of the 1950s and 1960s. Past high and continuing above-replacement fertility will triple Mexico's current 100 million population by century's end - if not before.

The two main parties have platforms silent about population, immigration, and the population/environment nexus. Neither addresses the Census Bureau's latest set of projections, issued in January, 2000. These estimate that with steady levels of immigration our present population of 275 million (up from 200 million in 1970 and 132 million in 1940) will swell to 571 million by 2100 and with expansive immigration quotas may hit one billion or more by century's end.

Nader to date is no different. He and the Greens have not progressed to the next step of recognizing that a national population policy is essential for crafting rational immigration and environmental policies. Indeed, the U.S. cannot morally demand that third world nations draft national population policies when we ourselves are unwilling to do so.

Moreover, the Green Party platform ominously endorses the current "refugee" influx, talks blandly about "reciprocal economic opportunities" with Mexico and opposes "those who seek to divide us for political gain by raising ethnic and racial hatreds, blaming immigrants for social and economic problems" - the conventional code for suppressing the immigration debate. http://www.gp.org/platform/gpp2000.html#immigration. And Nader has recently even made noises about facilitating immigration from Mexico.

At the most basic level, there are "liberals" who dismiss population's intertwining with all other environmental concerns, and those of us who would mandate population be a requisite variable in any policy formulation. Another split divides those with a short time horizon - five, ten, maybe twenty years - and those who look at least 100 years into the future. Note that many in the EAG have a long time horizon, yet wish to evade overt consideration of population change.

Liberals are not divided between Democrats and Greens/Progressives. They are divided between those who view the globe as a finite sphere and those who believe that mankind alone of all Earth's species is exempt from rules of mathematical growth and progression. I term this the division between pragmatists (realists?) and utopians. As long as the latter have the upper hand, politicians will lead us down the path to ecological - and national - destruction.

September 20, 2000