Philip Cafaro on immigration and population

Here are some of the bullet points of what to do from “Arguments for Reducing Immigration” from Life on the Brink.

  • Cut legal immigration from 1 million to 200,000 per year
  • Reduce illegal immigration by strictly enforcing sactions against employers who hire illegal workers (it is fruitless to try to lower legal immigration levels while ignoring or condoning illegal immigration).Rework trade agreements, and increase and improve development aid, to help people live better lives and rein in population growth in their own countries
  • Increase funding for family planning clinics and take other steps to improve easy, inexpensive access to contraception domestically
  • Preserve the right to abortion (forcing women to bear children they do not want is unjust, and forcing them to have illegal abortions is dangerous)
  • End tax breaks and other government subsidies that encourage American citizens to have more children

Foreign policy:

  • Increase funding for international family planning efforts, to help secure safe, affordable contraception in other countries
  • Vigorously support women’s reproductive rights (including abortion rights) and girls’ equal rights to primary and secondary education, worldwide.
  • Deny all foreign aid and any immigration slots to nations that fail to commit to stabilizing their populations or sharing wealth fairly among their citizens

Cafaro points out that if you aren’t willing to reduce immigration into the United states, then you can’t avoid the environmental implications of your position.  If you want to continue to let in 1.5 million immigrants, then you support a population of 700 million Americans by 2100, or 850 million if you supported the 2.5 million per year Edward Kennedy & John McCain bill of 2007 (which President Bush and then-senator Obama also supported).  If you want 1.5 to 2.5 million people per year, then you also want more cars, more houses, more shopping mals, more power lines, more concrete and asphalt.  You are against habitat and resources for wildlife, against water in the rivers and streams for fish, want fewer forests, prairies, and wetlands, fewer wild birds and wild animals in general.  You’d like to see human beings replace all these other species.  You reject sustainability.

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5 Responses to Philip Cafaro on immigration and population

  1. Mike says:

    Migrants move from their homelands for two categories of reason: they are attracted by “pull” factors to the countries that are their preferred destination. And they feel they must leave home because of the “push” factors in their own homelands – poverty, unemployment, hunger and famine, inadequate health services, poor educational facilities.

    If you want to curb immigration into the developed world – N America, Europe, Australia etc, it is not enough to introduce immigration controls, immigration quotas, criminilasation of employmant of illegals etc. The migrants will still keep coming – across the Mediterranean and overland from Asia into Europe, across the Rio Grande into the US. What you will need to do is to aid the countries from which the emigrants come. Foreign aid. Massive development of hospitals, schools, improved agriculture, better water supply, industrialisation, better wages, better housing,and above all JOBS – that means economic development. If life at home improves, the desperate will not leave to seek their fortunes in the rich world. But how many rich countries are prepared to make the massive investment that would so improve the life in the poorer countries that the poor would cease to make the hazardous journey to Europe and N America? None at the moment. And none in the foreseeable future. So the migrants will still come and the West will still want their skills and their cheap labour and the border controls will filter out a fraction and the rest will get through and the illegals will still be eagerly employed by employers desperate for good workers. And the electors will still gripe about immigrants and the “excessive” amounts paid out in foreign aid.

    Leave a Reply

    • energyskeptic says:

      It’s far too late to aid other countries, we are on the precipice of the net energy cliff.

      We are barely feeding people in America (1 in 6 receive government food aid), and the unemployment rate is far higher than official figures. This has caused the rate of illegal immigration to fall, and will continue to do so since not just energy, but topsoil, aquifers, and other resources are declining as well.

      Unless the aid to other nations is birth control, countries will continue to export their excess people and reduce the stress on their own resources since there’s no need to reform. Even when countries “let the steam out” within their own borders, it’s usually by building roads into the rainforests for cattle and slash-and-burn agriculture, further reducing the overall carrying capacity of their nation (and the planet).

      Worse yet, it’s often the best and brightest that emigrate, who would have done far more good staying at home and building a better nation than coming to America or Europe.

      Enforcing the laws that prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants would greatly reduce, though not halt, illegal immigration.

      Have you read Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” and other books that discuss the violence that erupts when societies reach their limits? For example, in Rwanda there was no longer enough land for young men to marry and grow food for their own families. This was the cause of the genocide. In the areas of Rwanda where there were no Tutsi, Hutu’s killed each other. Political, social, and religious labels of battling groups ignore the underlying hunger that drives people into battle.

      I dread the ecological turning point when energy declines enough that oil shortages prevent planting, or harvest, or delivery of crops to regions in America. Like Yugoslavia, Hitler’s Germany, the Soviet Union after 1991, there will be Us versus Them violence, and I expect that illegal or recent legal immigrants will be targets. Perhaps the Tea Party versus Democrats. Probably different Us vs Them depending on where you are in the country. Somehow we’re going to go from 330 million back to 100 million people over the next 6 to 60 years.

      It would have been better to limit immigration and encouraged zero or one-child families when we first recognized our predicament after “Limits To Growth” came out in 1973. It may be too late, but perhaps we could still lower the death rate by making birth control and abortion free and easy to get PLUS teach children about ecology and carrying capacity and the true state of the world. It’s too late to teach most adults, who on both the left and right are too attached to their World Views and lacking in critical thinking and science literacy to change their minds.

  2. Camillus O'Byrne says:

    I’ve been reading a lot here lately and have found a lot of useful and interesting data. Thanks for that.

    As for interpretation of that data, or drawing conclusions, or theorising, the most obvious critique is that you present a very US-centric world view. For instance, the comments here relating to population and what might be sensible US foreign policy in that regard miss the overwhelmingly obvious possibility of the US simply ceasing to project death and the destruction of other nations infrastructures and means of subsistence. Stop stealing, murdering, spying and lying in dealing with other nations. The third world in particular has no need of tainted US “aid”. It needs to have the US stop standing on it’s throat. The Middle East would be a much less troubled place without US “peace making” – a hideous distortion of reality.

    In short, the view from outside is that the abuse of power and lack of moral leadership by the US is one of – if not the biggest – obstacles to finding a sustainable future. Amazing how few Americans can encompass this, can get away from the assumptions and propaganda that is embodied in adopting the language of the political establishment. Words such as “terrorist” have been purged of meaning unless understood in Orwellian terms. Compared to the downplaying of US wrong-doing, intentional or not, it is probably much more reasonable to assert that the US is the world’s number one problem and little progress will be made on any front until it cease’s to be so. Not only is it the single biggest source of most other problems, but by its intransigence, its stifling of alternatives and its creation of fear in its rivals through its ruthless power politics, it makes progress elsewhere even more unlikely than would otherwise be the case.

    Future solutions, if they arise, are highly unlikely to originate within the US. American counter-culture is, unfortunately, still “American” and unlikely to be able to escape the limitations that implies. Still, little harm in trying, of course.

    It seems to be the case that Americans, even those aware enough to reject consumerism, by and large are pretty thoroughly brainwashed culturally and politically which is unfortunate as it cannot help but detract from the completely rational interpretation of facts.

    Very sad.

    • energyskeptic says:

      It’s hard to include other countries than America in what I write because there’s just too much information out there, and bloggers are covering their own nations quite well. When it comes to population, we can’t control other nations, that’s a problem it’s up to us to solve for ourselves.

      I see world history from a natural resources, Malthusian, energy resources point of view — standard political theories get in the way of understanding what’s really going on, AND HAS ALWAYS GONE ON since the Roman Empire.

      In some ways, America is one of the most inept empires that has ever existed (Bonner & Wiggins “Empire of Debt”).

      The domination and threat of America to the rest of the world TOTALLY depends on oil, and if you read the post I have on the net energy cliff, and the posts about exponential growth, we won’t be capable of being much of a threat 10 to 30 years from now (awfully hard to figure out exactly when since there are so many factors. Plus this is a ONE-TIME-ONLY kind of civilization, since there won’t be fossil fuels or alternative energy solutions in the future to allow 7+ billion people to live ever again, the planet’s carrying capacity is about 1 billion but will be much less than that for 100,000 years due to rising sea levels, drought, topsoil erosion, aquifer’s drained and all the other miseries listed at this site).

      Even without the factor of sudden energy decline and therefore the inability to replace or even repair infrastructure or grow as much food without fossil fuels, we are also at the end of the stagflation phase of a secular cycle on the verge of collapse.

      Peter Turchin has used scientific methods to study the rise and fall of civilizations for the past several thousand years of civilizations to find patterns. Just about all the nations on earth are at the collapse phase — see the 2006 “War & Peace & War. The life cycles of imperial nations” for details. Or if you’re a glutton for punishment (very dull academic language), and want to see the “proof” underling Turchin’s theories, of how Turchin comes to these grand overviews, his most recent book is the 2009 “Secular Cycles”. For less depth and far better writing, read Gale Tverberg’s article about this book “Diminishing Returns, Energy Returned on Invested, and Collapse” at

  3. Beamspot says:

    Well, I live in iSpain, south of Europe, 3rd world country right now and descending, and those points raised would be good 10 years ago, and I would sign for them back then when I still didn’t know about Peak Oil.
    But in any case, right now, this is totally useless.
    We are 15 km away from the biggest malthusian bombs in history, collected all them on top of the energy source we depend upon, and they are ‘enriching’ the ‘bomb fuel’, they are on the verge of stability, and all the middle west is close to a chain reaction of the worst ‘bombs’ ever.
    South Europe will be the scorched earth that may serve to absorb part of the blow of those bombs to save the remains of old Europe. Suez and most important commerce and oil routes to Europe lay also in this region.
    It is only a question of (not much) time. Even if birth were fully stopped in those countries, the drop in energy production, exports, the problems to import expensive grain to feed all of them will end in some form of explosion. And those countries grow much faster than any western country, while many of them have past the peak oil, and soon internal fuel consumption will be bigger than their own production, so no more dollars to buy grain, even if their population and consumption decreases.
    Global warming insinuation on a drought in Spain much worse than Dust Bowl, and the erosion of soil will reduce world population to 1/10 in less than two hundred years, with the great reduction in this century. Malthus was right.