Immigration and the Environment


Former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, who's running for the Sierra Club Board of Directors, complains in today's San Francisco Chronicle that immigration hurts the environment:

The Sierra Club now has a Grand Canyon gap between its goals and its action plan. It cannot get to an environmentally sound America without considering population and immigration.

The present American birthrate will lead to a stable population around 2050, but with today's level of immigration, our population will be approximately 500 million, on its way to a billion. Which makes sense to you? I have yet to meet an American who wants a billion neighbors -- or even 500 million. This is not as issue of immigrants, but of immigration. What possible public policy advantage would there be to an America of 500 million? Do we lack for people? Do we have too much open space, parkland and outdoor recreation spots? What will 500 million Americans mean to our environment? Are our schools unpopulated? Do we not have enough diversity? Will you live better lives if San Francisco and California double in size? These questions answer themselves. Can you imagine an America of a billion people that you would want to leave to your grandchildren? (link via RealClearPolitics)

(The issue is not a new one for the Sierra Club. As Virginia Postrel wrote in 1998, "a cultural-political movement opposed to mobility and change will, over time, come to support restrictions on technology, trade, and, yes, immigration…")

More on Lamm and other anti-immigration candidates for the Sierra Club board here. Their opponents are organized here. Is this a Malthusian civil war?