For over three decades the Sierra Club has recognized the important role
that population growth plays in environmental degradation. In 1965 the
Club began adopting policies stressing the need for population
stabilization and for education on the role population plays in
environmental problems. The Club consistently called for an end to
population growth "first of the United States and then of the world."
However, the 1996 Board of Directors abandoned this long-standing
position by voting to "take no position on immigration levels or on
policies governing immigration into the United States," even though
mass immigration accounts for a major proportion of U.S. population growth
today. In 1998, Club members submitted a ballot initiative that would have
restored Sierra Club population policy to that in effect prior to 1996.
What follows are excerpts from Sierra Club population policies adopted
over the last thirty years. They show dramatically the break with
precedent made by the 1996 Board of Directors. The most complete
statement of Club immigration policy is given in the
Spring 1989 Sierra Club Population Report.
That important document describes in
detail the history, purpose, and nature of Club immigration policy.
Complete versions of all Sierra Club
policies can be found
here, as well as
on the Club's website
and are available from the national headquarters in San Francisco.
Sierra Club Population Policy Excerpts
"The Sierra Club Board of Directors recently clarified -- not changed -- its existing policy to state that the world and the U.S. should go beyond population stabilization to reduction,..."
Carl Pope, Oct. 21, 1999 directive
"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 population control." Adopted March 13,
1965; 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.
Necessary Policies: "We must find, encourage, and implement at the
earliest possible time the necessary policies, attitudes, social
standards, and actions that will... bring about the stabilization of the
population first of the United States and then of the world." Adopted
June 4, 1970; amended July 8, 1995.
Population Stabilization: "The Sierra Club reaffirms its dedication and
its conviction that: 1. All nations of the world, including developed
nations, should formulate and participate in programs designed to curb
their own population growth, and 2. All developed nations, including the
United States, being the countries with impact on the world development
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 resources."
Adopted May 6-7, 1978.
U.S. Immigration Laws, Policies, and Practices: "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." Adopted May 6-7, 1978.
Mass Immigration: "Immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that
which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S....
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, since
it is the fact of increasing numbers that affects population growth and
ultimately, the quality of the environment." Confirmed July 1988.