If the famous naturalist author Emile Zola was alive and writing today he could no doubt capture the horrific details in California of the wildfires as a personified monster of insatiable appetite, literally consuming 198,815 acres of land, (and still counting as of October 31st, 2019)-an area almost five times the size of Washington, D.C.
So far, over 1 million people have been at varying times without power and over 200,000 people have been displaced. It is becoming the new normal to have scheduled power outages. And when the electricity stops flowing, so too does access to other vitally important natural resources, i.e. water for drinking, bathing, food production and operation of life-saving tools and technology in hospitals and elder care homes...and the list of consequences goes on.
Needless to say the spin-off effects of the wildfires are raising tensions and many are looking for someone to blame. Ironically, among the finger-pointers are many short-sighted open borders advocates who claim to be both environmentalists and mass immigration advocates at the same time.
And they aren't the only ones who cannot see the forest for the trees. Take, for instance, this Op-ed by Farhad Manjoo published October 30, 2019 in the New York Times:
I’m starting to suspect we’re over. It’s the end of California as we know it. I don’t feel fine.
My answer to Farhad and many like-minded elected officials in California is YES to the first question-this is what life will be like as long as being the most populous state is seen as something to celebrate.
But to the second question, I say NO. It is not the best America can do. And incredulously, Mr. Manjoo states truthfully in the subtitle of his article, "The fires and the blackouts are connected to a larger problem in this state: a failure to live sustainably."
I agree, in part...but Farhad's narrow view of sustainability likely stops with considerations for changes to, and the ever-increasing state regulation of individual behaviors such as reducing vehicle emissions and the use of plastics, or ramping up recycling and reuse, rooftop solar photovoltaic, wind farms, etc. That is all well and good, but also pretty much meaningless in the bigger picture if the state does not address its overpopulation issue--an issue that is nothing new.
Leon Kolankiewicz, NumbersUSA's Scientific Director and former senior writer for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) cautioned in his 2010 article, Ties That Bind: Population, Water, Energy and Food.
The ties that bind between population, water, energy and food...simply put,--and one needn't be a math whiz to grasp this concept--a growing population consumes more fresh water and more energy at a time when both are being exhausted...the relationship between overpopulation, water, energy and food is even tighter and more tangled than at first blush. It takes both energy and water to produce food. Increasingly, these entanglements are becoming a source of intensifying competition and conflict between energy and water users and food producers/consumers...our business, political and environmental elites are guilty of dereliction of duty.
It is the Mr. Manjoos out there, (and there are many) who continue to talk about the need for sustainable living to combat climate change, in nearly the same breath as they call for an end to borders and the endless U.S. and California population growth this will encourage. Manjoo fails to see the contradiction of his own making between his comments in the first article above and this one dated January 16, 2019 titled, "There's Nothing Wrong With Open Borders," where he says: "There’s a witheringly obvious moral, economic, strategic and cultural case for open borders, and we have a political opportunity to push it."
I'll just let that sink in for a moment...push open borders, be proud of being the most populous state, and complain that scheduled power outages to avoid triggering wildfires that destroy homes and lives that weren't even present in California 20 years ago are somehow a failure of anything but having too many people in one place consuming natural resources at rates far exceeding the biocapacity for renewal.
What open borders advocates fail to understand is that living a sustainable life is not merely a feel-good exercise in reuse and recycling. It must include a balance between responsible practices in consumption with reductions in population growth, most of which is primarily driven (95%) by immigration.
In many respects, Jim Geraghty's sentiments echo some of my own about the Mr. Manjoos of the world in an October 31, 2019 National Review article, Policymakers Played a Role in California's Wildfire Issues. Jim also posits an answer to Manjoo's question is this the best America can do, saying:
Probably, because it's only going to get worse...Many parts of California look like paradise — nice weather year-round, a beautiful coast, redwood forests, gorgeous mountain ranges. This leads to many, many people wanting to live there, probably more than the region could reasonably manage, in terms of effective governance, the economy, and ecologically. The progressive response to this is schizophrenic.
California’s Democratic political establishment believes that efforts to find and deport illegal immigrants are xenophobic and wrong. They offer driver’s licenses and Medicaid coverage to those who enter the country illegally. Then they lament strained state services, overcrowded schools, sprawl, and unmanageable population growth.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects the total U.S. population to reach over 400 million and still be growing rapidly by 2060. Ultimately, this is not just a policy-maker problem for Californians, but a problem for the entire country. Overall immigration numbers are far too high.
The planet is already in overshoot and the poorest and most underdeveloped countries and regions of the United States for that matter will be the first to see and feel the effects of the excessive consumption demands of 7.7 billion people. Writer Linda Huhn discusses what many refuse to acknowledge in her October 29th, 2019 article in the Duluth News Tribune:
The United States can't control other countries, but it can lead by example by stabilizing its own population. Most U.S. population growth results from international migration. It therefore makes sense for environmentally conscious Americans to support humane reductions in future immigration rates.
America, the most innovative and richest nation on Earth, MUST do better because it CAN do better. We cannot help others around the world without first helping ourselves. Reducing immigration to stabilize our population, combined with more sustainable individual living practices is the most humane and reasonable path toward a sustainable future.
Somehow we must get to the point where we can see more clearly and have the courage to address the root causes of excessive human-driven demands on our natural resources, rather than waiting to cry foul when the consequences make themselves brutally known, at which time the hour to act in prevention and to protect is very late.
Wildfires, water shortages, and planned power outages are just the tip of the iceberg if population is not part of the discussion to fix and enforce U.S. immigration policies.
Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day, cautioned, "It is phony to say 'I'm for the environment, but not for limiting immigration.'" (2001 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Let's not forget that back in 1996, the Clinton administration's Council on Sustainable Development acknowledged the need to address population growth: "This is a sensitive issue, but reducing immigration levels is a necessary part of population stabilization and the drive toward sustainability." --President Clinton's Task Force on Population and Consumption, Council on Sustainable Development (1996).
This call for rationally, environmentally sustainable immigration levels was never heeded. Instead, vested interests pushed for ever more immigration and now here we are. The increasing frequency and ferocity of wildfires the wildfires in California and the disruption and destruction they leave in their wake, may in part be caused by climate change, but the greater contributing factors are ever more people, subdivisions and homes pushing further and further into fire prone habitats.
Politicians and the talking media heads love to postulate save-the-planet proposals from a nebulous environmental platform that seems to speak to everyone and noone in particular about the three Rs- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. With power outages planned by people and not just by nature's occasional violent wind or rain storm, a fourth R-Regulate is increasingly added to the mix, ominously cutting off access to the essential need for electricity in favor of safety from the fires.
Without discussing the need to slow population growth, the only reduction we are truly achieving is in quality of life for all Americans. California's wildfire woes are just the beginning, not the "end."
CHRISTY SHAW is the Development Officer for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Nov 18th 2019 @ 3:55pm EST