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The Planet

Statement in Favor of the Ballot Question

U.S. population is growing explosively as never before. During the 1990s we grew by 33 million - equivalent to another California. All 50 states added population for the first time ever. Census Bureau projections show that children born today could witness our population topping one billion!

A new Club flyer asks: "What does Population have to do with the Environment?" It answers: "Everything." A rapidly growing population means more polluting coal burned to generate electricity, more imported oil, more forests clearcut to provide construction materials, more farms, wetlands and natural landscapes developed into endless sprawling subdivisions, roads, and strip malls. Every Club objective is frustrated by population spiraling out of control.

From 2000-2004 US population grew by 12 million: immigration was 5.3 million and births to immigrants were 4 million. Should the United States therefore close its doors to all immigrants? Should we wall ourselves off from those fleeing persecution? Of course not. This ballot question suggests no such thing. It simply adopts policy recommended in 1988 by the Club's Population and Conservation Committees. It doesn't change priorities or reallocate resources.

The Club's current approach of improving conditions in foreign countries to reduce migration pressures has been in place for nine years. Yet population growth here is faster than ever! We should redouble efforts to improve the lives of those in impoverished places. But this is not enough. Our government must develop a comprehensive population policy, or we soon will become another India or China, a nation swelling with humanity.

Our working poor are the first to suffer as an overflowing labor supply depresses wages. Yet the poor cannot escape the crowding, pollution, and high costs of overpopulated areas. Future generations - who have no voice in current policies - are the ultimate victims.

Our poor and disadvantaged, disproportionately minorities, have shown in poll after poll that they oppose mass migration, especially illegal immigration. And the media - see cover stories in Time, Los Angeles Times Magazine and Environment Magazine - can talk openly and honestly about such problems. But our Club cannot under current policy.

In 2000, Club hero David Brower said, "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of the problem. It has to be addressed."

Please read the ballot question carefully. It's a modest but needed change for sustainability. Please vote "yes."

Visit www.sustainablesierra.org for board/other endorsers, more information.

- Dick Schneider, member, Conservation Governance Committee


Read the Statement in Opposition to the Ballot Question


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