A group of forty former world leaders, including President Bill Clinton and South Africa's President Nelson Mandela, have sounded the alarm on population growth and water scarcity, according to Reuters ("Twenty more "Niles" needed to feed growing population - leaders"). The subject is famililar to Clinton who in 1993 established a Council on Sustainable Development. One of the council's objectives was to chart a path towards the stabilization of U.S. population. Among the immigration-related recommendations:
- Develop comprehensive and responsible immigration and foreign policies that reduce illegal immigration and mitigate the factors that encourage immigration.
- Increase research on linkages between demographic change, including immigration factors and sustainable development.
Back in 1993, the U.S. granted 903,916 immigrants Legal Permanent Resident status. Since then, the United States has admitted more immigrants than in any other period in U.S. history. The recommendations of the Council on Sustainable Development went unheeded by Clinton and the Congress.
Twenty years later, in 2012, the former world leaders warn that global population growth will "require another 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of water per year....equal to the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers." The demand for water, they report, will be led by three nations: China, India, and the United States.
In this video, Environmental Planner Leon Kolankiewicz explains how America's environmental impact is greater than other countries' because of our greater affluence and technology. Our immigration policy affects the rest of the world.
Americans in the Southwest may be the first to feel the effects. In "Population, Immigration, and the Drying of the American Southwest," Kathleen Parker reports that immigration is responsible "for more than half of population growth" in regions dependent on the Colorado River, and Brad Udall, director of the University of Colorado’s Western Water Assessment says, "We’re on a collision course between supply and demand.”
Only Congress can stabilize U.S. population growth. At current levels of immigration, the U.S. population could not stabilizeeven if native-born fertility dropped to less than one child per woman. Politicians, however, rarely take the long view of immigration policy. They don't consider the impact their policies will have on future generations.
In a recent paper, Parker writes: "Wall Street and other growth advocates—the people who brought us the banking crisis—wring their hands in despair over a recent miniscule decrease in national fertility rate, even as they ignore critical carrying capacity issues that could have catastrophic economic and other consequences." We have seen the same hand-wringing in the media, the same obsession with never-ending growth.
As the naturalist David Attenborough says: "The notion of ever more old people needing ever more young people, who will in turn grow old and need even more young people, and so on ad infinitum, is an obvious ecological Ponzi scheme."
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA