The "population explosion" has severely disturbed the ecological
relationships between human beings and the environment. It has caused
an increasing scarcity of wilderness and
wildlife and has impaired the beauty of whole regions, as well as
reducing the standards and the quality of living. In recognition of
the growing magnitude of this conservation issue, the Sierra Club
supports a greatly increased program of education on the need for
Adopted March 13, 1965; amended July 8, 1995
The Sierra Club endorses the objectives of legislation to establish
federal machinery to deal with the problems of rapid human
Adopted March 13, 1966, amended July 8, 1995
The Sierra Club urges the people of the United States to abandon
population growth as a pattern and goal; to commit themselves to
limit the total population of the United States in order to
achieve balance between population and resources; and to achieve
a stable population no later than the year 1990.
Adopted May 3-4, 1969
The Sierra Club urges that the United States and each of its
individual states and lesser political entities abandon all policies,
projects, or programs, including tax exemptions, designed to foster,
subsidize or promote population growth.
The Sierra Club urges that the United States and each of its
individual states and lesser political entities actively promote
educational processes aimed at stabilizing the population within the
earliest possible time.
The Sierra Club urges that the United States condition the
granting of all economic foreign aid on the actual implementation of
birth control programs in each of the foreign countries receiving
such aid and that wherever possible economic foreign aid be
given primarily for the purpose of funding such control programs
and not for purposes which actually compete with the fundamental
need to limit population growth.
The Sierra Club urges that each of the individual states of the
United States legalize abortion.
Adopted September 11-20, 1969
The Sierra Club endorses a resolution from the organization
Zero Population Growth concerning measures to
inhibit population growth. In essence, the resolution
parallels an earlier Sierra Club statement of policy.
Whereas, every human being and every
American, present and future, has a
right to a world with a healthy environment, clean
air and water, uncluttered land,
adequate food, sufficient open space, natural
beauty, wilderness and wildlife in variety and
abundance, and an opportunity to gain an appreciation
of the natural world and our place
in it through firsthand experience, and
Whereas, population growth is directly involved in the
pollution and degradation of our
environment -- air, water and land -- and intensifies
physical, psychological, social, political, and economic
problems to the extent that
the well-being of individuals, the stability of society,
and our very survival are
Whereas, human populations are making
ever increasing demands upon irreplaceable
natural materials and energy sources, and
Whereas, the protection of the quality of our
environment is impossible in the face of the
present rate of population growth, including
that in the United States, despite the advanced
state of technology and the growing affluence
of some segments of human society,
Be it resolved by the undersigned organizations--
That we must find, encourage, and implement
at the earliest possible time the necessary
policies, attitudes, social standards, and actions
that will, by voluntary and humane means consistent
with human rights and individual conscience,
bring about the stabilization of the
population first of the United States and then of the
That pursuant to this goal, families should
not have more than two natural children and
adoption should be encouraged;
That state and federal laws should be
changed to encourage small families and to
discourage large families;
That laws, policies, and attitudes that foster
population growth or big families, or that restrict abortion and contraception, or that attempt
to constrict the roles of men and women,
should be abandoned;
That comprehensive and realistic birth-control
programs should be available to every
member of our society;
That environmental, population, and sex education
should be readily available;
That there should be increased research into
the sociology of population stabilization and
into the improvement of contraceptive technology;
That private and governmental departments,
commissions, and committees should be
created to deal effectively with the population
That the foreign policy of the United States
should reflect the urgent realities of the
Adopted June 4, 1970; amended July 8, 1995
World Population Year
The Sierra Club welcomes the deliberations of the
World Population Year Conference to convene in
Bucharest in August 1974, and urges participating nations to
support an action plan designed to cope with
problems related to population levels:
The Sierra Club is concerned with the quality
of life for all humanity. Further unrestricted
population growth will have unavoidable adverse
effects on present and future living
standards and particularly will act to prevent
improvements of standards of living and intensify
conditions of overcrowding and hunger for millions
in developing nations.
Excessive population density intensifies every
environmental problem associated with
lack of adequate living space, lack of sufficient
vital natural resources, and the disposition of wastes.
These environmental problems include the poisoning of air, water and
land resources; insufficient production of the
food and energy necessary to sustain life; and
increased susceptibility to disease arising
from the debilitating effect of this pollution
and resource exhaustion. The Earth's limited
reserves of arable and habitable land, as well
as mineral and energy resources, are already
being so severely strained by the existing
population that it is clear that increased population
growth threatens our survival as a
Food and resource scarcity complicates the
inequitable allocation of these resources,
promotes competition for these resources,
promotes competition between nations, and can
lead to destructive economic and military
conflict. Increased population density creates
environmental problems that transcend national
boundaries. Accordingly, regulation of
population growth within nations is a proper
subject for policy formulation and other action
by the United Nations.
Therefore, the Sierra Club resolves that:
The aim of policies adopted by the United
Nations Conference on Population should
be that world population should be reduced
to a level no greater than the carrying capacity of the Earth.
All individuals should be assured the
ability to control reproduction by the
availability of information and facilities,
where needed, for the whole range of reproductive
control. Technical assistance
should be available to nations requesting
it from the United Nations.
An intensive and broad-based educational
program should be instituted, directed at
persons in all countries, regardless of economic
or educational level, designed to
increase their awareness of the direct relationship
between large family size and the
adverse consequences of excessive population
growth, and the material advantages to existing
and future world populations of restraint on growth.
A full discussion should be had of the issues
of racial or national genocide. The
Sierra Club believes that restraints on
population growth are not incompatible
with a rational worldwide control over
the distribution and use of vital resources
and that they do not constitute a threat of
national or racial genocide. The Sierra
Club recommends that all nations, including
developed nations, help to formulate
and participate in international programs
designed to curb population growth.
Population growth already overburdens
parks, preserves, and other recreational
facilities. The continued enjoyment of natural
areas without irreparably impairing
those areas depends on formulation of
careful policies for population reduction
and proper land use.
The Sierra Club makes the following
specific recommendations for action:
The United Nations Conference on
Population should urge that all national
programs that provide incentives to large
families (tax relief, financial assistance,
etc.) be replaced with programs encouraging
Each nation should be urged to create
a national population commission to formulate
policy on population-growth
restraint and implement any programs that
may be developed.
The United Nations or another appropriate
international agency should expand
and create a continuing program for the
effective collection and dissemination of
data on population-growth trends and
densities, as well as the relation of such
data to problems of resource allocation
and conservation. They should develop and to the extent possible:
implement large-scale educational programs
on the hazards of unrestrained
growth and on the mechanisms of contraception
and family planning;
conduct research on contraceptive
train personnel to carry out the foregoing.
Those countries with the available resources should be urged to contribute
funds to defray the cost of population
growth restraint programs initiated by
less affluent nations and by international
Achievement of these ends should be
made a top priority for United Nations action
at all levels, including formulation of
concrete programs for national implementation
If the above goals are immediately pursued
on an international level, we believe that population
reduction may be achieved by voluntary
controls on reproduction.
Adopted May 4-5, 1974; amended July 8, 1995
The Sierra Club supports legislative efforts
to expand birth control services and research.
Adopted May 6-7, 1978, Policy Code 9.0
The Sierra Club reaffirms its dedication and
its conviction that:
All nations of the world, including developed nations,
should formulate and participate in programs designed to curb their own
population growth, and
All developed nations, including the United
States, being the countries with impact on
the world environment disproportionate to
their population sizes, have an obligation
both to end their population growth as soon
as feasible and to substantially reduce their
consumption of this planet's non-renewable
Adopted May 6-7, 1978, Policy Code 9.0
National Polulation Policy
In 1982, the Club supported introduction of a
National Population Policy bill, emphasizing
foresight capability. The
bill was reintroduced in three consecutive
In November 1990, the Club's grassroots
leaders gave population the greatest number of votes among potential new
major Club national campaigns. The Board of Directors subsequently declared
the international population assistance drive one of the Club's seven
federal priority campaigns for 1991-1992.
Subsequently, "The volunteer population committees at the group and chapter level
increased from 12 in early 1990, to 45 in early 1991, to 120 in early 1992,
to 275 in 1993."
From Sierra Club Population History Page
In 1994, the Sierra Club attended the United
Nations' International Conference on Population and
Development (ICPD) in support of our national
position on assuring reproductive health and family
planning services for all people by the year 2000.
U.S. Population Policy and Mass Immigration
The Sierra Club supports the development
by the federal government of a population policy
for the United States, as a means of articulating national
goals and coordinating federal efforts to achieve those goals.
U.S. Mass Immigration Laws, Policies, and Practices
The Sierra Club urges Congress to conduct a
thorough examination of U.S. immigration
laws, policies, and practices. This analysis
should include discussion of
The impact of immigration of different levels
on population trends in the United States,
The disproportionate burden on certain
The effect of immigration to the U.S. on
population growth and environmental quality in
Substantial international migration, whether
legal or illegal, arises to a great extent from the
growing desperation in many societies of the
world. With world population increasing at
more than 70 million per year, it is clear that
international migration can make only an
insignificant contribution to easing world population pressures.
Currently, only the U.S., Canada,
and Australia among all countries accept more
than a handful of permanent immigrants.
All regions of the world must reach a balance
between their populations and resources.
Developing countries need to enlarge opportunities
for their own residents, thus increasing
well-being, eventually lessening population
growth rates, and reducing the pressures to emigrate.
Developed nations must work towards
greater conservation of resources as well as
population stabilization in order to reduce impact
on depletion of non-renewable resources,
creation of pollution, and damage to ecosystems.
This combination would remove the root
causes of international migration, by providing
more equitable opportunities for people
throughout the world.
A major challenge facing the United States is
to help influence the world in this direction.
The U.S. foreign assistance program and other
U.S. international activities can be major means
to address such concerns.
Therefore, the Sierra Club urges continuing
review of U.S. foreign policy and foreign
assistance programs to ensure that their efforts
enhance reduction in population growth rates,
improve environmental protection, and further
environmentally sound development in all
countries of the world.
Adopted May 6-7, 1978, Policy Code 9.0
In 1980, the Sierra Club testified to the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Reform, stating:
"It is obvious that the numbers of immigrants the United States accepts affects our population size and
growth rate. It is perhaps less well known the extent to which immigration policy, even more than the
number of children per family, is the determinant of the future numbers of Americans."
"[It is an]... important question how many immigrants the United States wants to accept
and the criteria we choose as the basis for answering that question."
The Sierra Club has long supported the idea that an end to population growth in the U.S.
and each country around the world is essential to environmental protection. In particular,
club policy calls for "development by the federal government of a population policy for the
United States" and for the U.S. "to end (its) population growth as soon as feasible."
Immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will
permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S.
(policy confirmed by the Club's Conservation Coordinating Committee).
The Sierra Club will lend its voice to the congressional debate on legal immigration
issues when appropriate, and then only on the issue of the number of immigrants - not
where they come from or their category...
Sierra Club statements on immigration will always make the connection between
immigration, population increase in the U.S., and the environmental consequences
Sierra Club Population Report, Spring 1989
The Sierra Club National Population Committee stated:
"The Population Committee's priority is getting the U.S. to resume its
international leadership in providing support for population growth reductions
throughout the world. However U.S. population growth is also of concern.
Immigration is a matter of environmental importance because of its
connection with U.S. population growth..."