Population-Immigration Ballot Question "A" In A Nutshell

("A" In A Nutshell)

by Alan Kuper


SUSPS Home     Overview     What You Can Do     History     Democracy     Misc


I hope you'll read what Alan Kuper has to say, representing the Sierra Club position prior to 1996, Alternative A, the policy "to stabilize U.S. population at the earliest possible time through reduction in birth rates and immigration rates".
I'll say this for it, it's short.
Since I am addressing an environmentally-aware audience, it can be safely assumed that all of you would prefer that U.S. population were smaller and not growing rapidly. (The U.S. at 269 million is #3 in population and it is growing about 3 million/year, far faster than any other large industrial nation.)
Since mass immigration accounts for about half the growth, it follows that you join with 83% of those polled in the U.S. as favoring reduced massimmigration. (Roper poll 1996).
The U.S. Census Bureau middle projection says at present rates U.S. population will double in less than 70 years, 80% due to mass immigration and descendants.
So on the merits, all of you would vote for "A".
The evidence is that Sierra Club members would vote overwhelmingly for "A" on a straight Yes or No. What is that evidence?

  1. "Sustainability", to which we all pay homage, requires U.S. population under 100 million (Ehrlichs, Pimentel, others).

  2. The Wilderness Society and the President's Council on Sustainable Development have adopted "A".

  3. The Nation's leading environmental thinkers and writers endorse "A". (Lester Brown, Dave Foreman, Gaylord Nelson, Paul Watson, E.O. Wilson, to name a few.)

  4. Club management, in the belief that a straight vote would win, inserted "Alternative B", a glowing description of the current, ongoing Club population program, making it appear that a vote for "A" would end "B".

  5. Club management, in the absence of environmentalists' support, asserted "party discipline" to line up a host of Club entities as "Endorsers" of "B".



Clearly, Club management does not want you to vote for "A". The reasons they give are without merit. But just for fun, let's look at Management's arguments in which it tries to deny the importance of levelling off rapid U.S. population growth.

  1. Bring the world up to a standard at which people will not want to immigrate to the U.S. Do that first. Then tackle U.S. population growth.
    Comment: Let me know when it's time to start on U.S. pop. When U.S. hits 1/2 billion (India 1970) 1 billion? (China 1990).

  2. Reduce U.S. per capita consumption and increase efficiency. Do that first.
    Comment: Let me know when it's time to start on U.S. population. Hope I live that long.

  3. It doesn't matter where a person lives.
    Comment: The person coming from somewhere else, say Europe where a unit of GNP is produced with 1/2 - 1/3 the energy that it takes in the U.S., will contribute no more greenhouse gases than if she'd stayed at home? For some sending countries the ratio is more like 30, but that won't make any difference either?

  4. If you vote for "A", you are bashing immigrants.
    Comment: It's total numbers that impact environment. Sierra Club policy pre-1996 says clearly, total numbers, not country of origin or category of immigrants.


If the above arguments don't work, Management says the Sierra Club Image is more important than it's Principles and Mission.

  1. We will be divided. We must wait to achieve consensus.
    Comment: Somebody said "wait"? They must not understand overpopulation.

  2. We will be associated in the public mind with nasty people.
    Comment: It's the problem of bedfellows against NAFTA, of Pat Buchanan and the Sierra Club! We must have lost 10 members over that.

  3. "Oh come on! This is different."
    Okay, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the Club kitchen. We'd never get anywhere if we accepted "guilt by association", the old Senator Joe McCarthy gambit.

    Speaking of bedfellows, the Home Builders Association of Northern California has come out strongly for "Alternative B", for no position on immigration. Management's mistake of Feb. 24, 1996 has landed the Club in bed with the Developers' Lobby just as the Club is making Sprawl a top priority.

  4. We'll be persona non grata with "our most reliable allies".
    Comment: That's not only insulting those with good environmental records, it's insulting their constituents who support good environmental records.

    Anyway, an examination of the LCV Congressional Environmental Scorecard reveals that those Congressmembers with large immigrant constituencies don't vote any different than their party averages. They are not "our most reliable allies".



Actually, many members will not vote for "A",

  • not because they are un-persuaded on the merits,

  • and not because they are persuaded by Management,

  • nor because they are confused by the ballot.

They will not vote for anything to do with reproduction or babies or the whole subject of population. Discussion of mass immigration is the last straw. They are thinking, "what will people think of me?"

  • When I champion forests and health, my friends love it.

  • When I talk about babies and immigrants, they don't.



"...the world's overpopulated, but OUR overpopulation is a greater problem for the Planet, than theirs."
      -- Carl Pope, CNN Special Reports, "Who's Overpopulated"
          (comparing U.S. and Third World.)

"If not us, who?"
"If not now, when?"
"And if not for the Earth, then for what?"

      -- Adam Werbach, The Planet, March 1998
          Not quite Hillel, The Elder, but good.

"Protect our last wild places -- Sierra Nevada, Utah Wilderness, Headwaters Forest, Northern Forest, Everglades, Great Lakes, Santa Monica Mountains. We must slow our population growth and save our heritage."
      -- Adam Werbach, Sierra Club President,
          Candidate's Statement 1997



                  Alan Kuper


SUSPS Home     Overview     What You Can Do     History     Democracy     Misc