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Immigration is the real issue

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In "Taking the West Forward," you bashed both the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress over energy policy and their perceived failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, but you failed to even mention the driving force behind increasing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, namely immigration (HCN, 12/6/04: Taking the West Forward).

The increase in U.S. energy consumption between 1990 and 2003 was due almost entirely to the 41 million people added to the U.S. population during this time period. As a result of this increase in energy consumption, carbon emissions increased by 216 million metric tons to 1,581 million metric tons of carbon in 2003.

In the three-year period 2000-2003, legal immigration into the U.S. averaged 944,600 per year. If immigration continues at this rate, by 2020 another 16 million immigrants will have been added to the U.S. population, which will result in an additional 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

Largely because of present and past immigration, there is no way the U.S. can ratify the Kyoto Protocol as it is presently drafted without committing economic suicide. In order for the U.S. to meet the Kyoto cap of 1,296 million metric tons of carbon emissions, year 2012 emissions would have to be reduced by 430 million metric tons, or 25 percent. A reduction of that magnitude in 7 years would cause major social and economic dislocations.

If environmentalists are truly interested in reducing carbon dioxide emissions rather than engaging in politically correct posturing, they would be well-advised to focus on the real issue, which is immigration.

Donald F. Anthrop
Berkeley, California

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