Unwise welcome?

  Dear HCN,

"Troubled harvest," your Dec. 18 lament over an immigration policy that doesn't encourage immigration, reads like a plea for "wise use." A population that grew more than 13 percent in the 1990s - the fastest growth rate among the industrial nations - exacerbates virtually all of the environmental problems covered so well by HCN. Most importantly, nearly 70 percent of our growth comes from immigrants and their children. This requires more of everything, turning the raw materials from oilfields, mines, forests, rangelands and oceans into food, shelter, clothing, traffic jams, urban sprawl, greenhouse gases and crowded parks.

The emotional satisfaction that comes from being a welcoming host for immigration should not blind us to the realities of species extinction, the fragmenting and loss of habitat, and ecosystems in collapse. The American West is more than a picturesque void waiting to be filled by immigration and the waves of white flight that ripple out ahead of it.

John Walker
Coaldale, Colorado

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