Recently, the City of San Francisco announced a plan to give developers “density bonuses” to encourage the building of denser housing blocks and help curb urban and suburban sprawl. The plan was only approved after a long court-battle but further problems still linger, like the potential need for more legislation, negotiations over the amount of affordable units developers must build, and political backlash from the possible lifting of height restrictions.
Considering the huge investment of time, energy and money in implementing these new density plans, one ponders whether a far simpler possible solution was ever raised. Like reducing the actual amount of people piling into the city every year.
According to the Census Bureau, half of all urban sprawl is associated with population growth, 80 percent of which is attributed to immigration. Illegal aliens eligible for Obama’s 2012 deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program run up to 1.8 million and his post-midterms amnesty-plan is estimated to include another 8 million. 50 percent of all America’s immigrants, illegal and legal (together almost 2 million a year) end up in just 5 cities, including the San Francisco-Oakland area.
New houses, new roads and new strip malls equal increased energy consumption, water consumption and air pollution. Between 1982 and 2001, growth induced-sprawl developed over 34 million acres of forest, cropland and pasture, an area equivalent to the state of Illinois. The worst sprawl centers, the immigrant havens of Los Angeles and southern Florida, contain the largest number of species now on the endangered list. How far will things like developer “density bonuses” go to control these problems? Far enough?
For San Francisco, and America’s cities in general, the problem isn’t sprawl. It’s immigration.
Population stabilization and environmental sustainability — there was once a time when left-wing politicians and environmentalists linked the two. The late Gaylord Nelson, Democrat Senator from Wisconsin, understood that population growth was “a joint partner in the degradation of our nation’s environmental resources.” In 1970, Nelson founded the first Earth Day and since then over 100 million bodies have been added to the population, five times the increase we experienced in the previous four decades.
In 1996, President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development addressed population growth concerns and concluded in an environmental report that: “Managing population growth, resources, and wastes is essential to ensuring that the total impact of these factors is within the bounds of sustainability.”
These considerations have been dropped by the Obama administration. Obama’s top science advisor, John Holdren, writing in an academic journal with Population Bomb author, Paul Ehrlich, argued “if population control measures are not initiated immediately, and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come.” But during his confirmation hearing, when he was pressed on his current position, Holdren made a full retraction.
That population growth has a big influence on greenhouse gas emissions and consumption doesn’t require a comprehensive study from the National Academy of Sciences (although they did one once and that’s exactly what they found). CO2 emissions are primarily caused by combustion engines and industrial/domestic electricity, all of which are used at disproportionately high rates in the U.S. – One fifth of the world’s oil is consumed in America, but its share of the population is only 5 percent.
The U.S. ramps up the effects of its world-beating consumption rate by being the biggest importer of people on the planet (by far). Its population growth rate is comparable to that of the third world. Currently, over 10 percent of all the people born in Mexico are living in the U.S., all of whom now consume like Americans. It is estimated that the carbon footprint of the average immigrant is four times higher than it would have been had they remained at home. America’s high population growth and high consumption means we have an outsized impact on the world’s environmental systems. Quite simply, reducing immigration is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.
600-page EPA regulations, billions in subsidies for renewables and “smartgrowth” urban planning; all of these measures would not have been necessary if the Immigration Act of 1965 was never enacted. If current immigration levels persist, these measures will have to be ramped to far more draconian levels. To diminish the effects of global climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has suggested that over the next 50 years the U.S. cut its emissions by 80 percent. But their models rely on current population figures. Because of the multiplier effect, if we double our population in the same period, as is projected, we’ll have to reduce our emissions by even more – As David Attenborough says, “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.”
What will such a regulatory future look like? The Census Bureau estimates our population may reach 1 billion in eight decades. It was around this level in 1979 that China instituted its one-child policy.
The Sierra Club once called for ending our mass immigration policy. Their official line was, “immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S.” This ended in 1996 when billionaire Wall Street investor, David Gelbaum, promised to donate $100 million if they dropped the measure. Since then, the organization has been pro-open borders.
Currently, our immigration policy has zero regard for environmental impact. You simply cannot call yourself a conservationist and be for open borders. The Sierra Club’s “beyond coal” or “beyond gas” campaigns may have important objectives for our long run environmental well-being, but without going “beyond immigration” as well, all efforts to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren will be wasted.