Michelle Nijhuis sounds generous when she writes: "I can’t say I deserve the many benefits of living here more than the people in line do" (HCN, 12/23/02: Holding open the door to the good life up north). But as she helps the Mexican government encourage illegal immigration into the United States, by providing matriculas (identity cards), we need to ask: Just what is she being generous with? The answers, among other things, are wide-open spaces, wildlife habitat and economic opportunities for working-class Americans.
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, at current levels of immigration, the U.S. population will climb by 115 to 120 million between 2000 and 2050, to approximately 395-400 million people. Two-thirds of that increase will be due to post-2000 immigrants and their descendants.
All those people are going to need food, housing, jobs, recreational opportunities, etc. That means more pollution and greenhouse emissions, less habitat for wildlife, more crowding on scenic trails and on highways. In short, everything that we environmentalists oppose.
Endless population growth, like endless economic growth, is not compatible with a strong environmentalism. Left-wing cornucopianism, ultimately, is no more sustainable than right-wing cornucopianism.
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