Forsaking Fundamentals

The Environmental Establishment Abandons U.S. Population Stabilization

By Roy Beck and Leon Kolankiewicz on March 2, 2001

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Center Paper 18, March 2001


Leon Kolankiewicz is an environmental/natural resource consultant and a former vice president of Carrying Capacity Network.

Roy Beck is the Director of NumbersUSA.com and author of The Case Against Immigration: The Moral, Economic, Social, and Environmental Reasons for Reducing U.S. Immigration Back to Traditional Levels (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996).


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Reviewing the Rejected "Foundational Formula" of 1970-Era Environmentalism

Population Issues and the 1970-Era Environmental Movement

The Missing Issue in Environmental Journalism

Why the Change?

Population, Immigration, and the Environment: Why Environmentalists Avoid the Connection

Turning a Deaf Ear to Environmentalist Trailblazers and a Blind Eye to Demographic Projections

Executive Summary

When the Society for Environmental Journalists held its annual conference in Chattanooga, Tenn., in October of 1998, urban sprawl was a recurring theme.

And no wonder: U.S. population growth was every bit as potent in 1998 as it had been in 1970: Some 2.5 million or more Americans were being added each year, at a rate faster than some third-world countries and ten times faster than Europe. It was a volume of growth nearly matching that of the Baby Boom years that helped trigger the 1970-era environmental/ population movement. The Earth Day 1970 vision of a stabilized American population within a generation had never materialized.

To put U.S. growth in perspective, consider that the decades between 1950 and 1970 had added 52 million Americans — driving total population to 203 million. That two-decade growth was not only unprecedented in a long history of continuous expansion, but almost double the growth of the next largest two-decade period. But growth barely abated in the 1970-90 period, with another 46 million added. Furthermore, the Census Bureau projected that growth in the next two-decade period (1990-2010) would exceed even the Baby Boom era. The nation already approached 275 million as the new century dawned.

Urban sprawl was featured in the keynote address of the environmental journalists’ 1998 Chattanooga conference. City officials proudly conducted tours of their efforts to control sprawl (although some admitted that they feared Atlanta’s massive sprawl could within a few years swallow all their efforts). Few journalists were from cities not struggling with the bitter fruits of the urban sprawl blighting late-1990s America: Mounting traffic congestion; endless disruptive road construction; spreading smog; worsening water pollution and tightening water supplies; disappearing wildlife habitats, farmland, and open spaces; overcrowded schools; overused parks and outdoor recreation facilities; the end of small-town life in communities that until recently had been beyond the city; the impending merging together of separate, unwieldy metropolitan areas into vast megalopolitan miasmas; and the overall deterioration in quality of life and the increasing social tensions of urban dwellers reflected in such phenomena as gated communities and "road rage."

Yet, the population growth exacerbating all those problems was strangely missing from a popular session in which a panel of newspaper reporters and editors discussed their expansive coverage of the problems from, the causes of, and the solutions to urban sprawl in different parts of the country. The panelists talked about problematic zoning, planning and lifestyle choices, but not about the 25 million new residents added each decade — or the sheer amount of space required for their housing, worksites, schools, roads, recreation facilities, shopping centers, and other infrastructure.31

When challenged from the audience, all the panelists agreed that urban sprawl would be far less destructive without the massive population growth that is occurring in America. And they agreed that urban life and environmental losses would be immensely different if some 70 million people had not been added to the U.S. population since 1970. But they indicated that they had not addressed U.S. population growth in their urban sprawl reporting because they wanted to direct readers toward solutions to urban sprawl per se. Since nothing could be done about population growth, they indicated, it couldn’t be part of the solution; thus, they did not write about population.

In the late 1990s, as in 1970, the problems stemming from U.S. population growth were huge news. But the underlying population growth itself and its causes were barely being mentioned. Al Gore, the "environmental vice president," gave it no emphasis in his national campaign against urban sprawl.32 In virtually a complete reversal of the 1970 conditions, U.S. population growth was treated by most environmental leaders and journalists as an implacable natural phenomenon, which, like hurricanes and earthquakes, we could not prevent but only adjust to.

Historians may find that the key reason for that fundamental shift in the way the public learned about environmental issues through the news media was the behavior of environmental advocacy groups. Journalists tend to look to competing interest groups to define the issues they cover. Business groups always have defined one end of the growth issue spectrum as they pushed for ever more population growth. At one time, environmental groups defined the other end by calling for no growth. By the late 1990s, however, those groups no longer emphasized population growth as something a nation could choose or reject. Most of the scores of American environmental groups either ignored U.S. population growth altogether, treated it as a negative but inexorable force whose effects can only be mitigated, or even suggested that growth in human numbers is environmentally benign.

That dramatic change in the strategy of the American environmental movement was reflected in the back of the Chattanooga hotel room where the sprawl panel took place. There, a representative from the national Sierra Club headquarters had placed a display of literature from the Club’s major new campaign against urban sprawl. The highly-publicized, multi-million-dollar campaign mentioned population growth only in passing, and then only to minimize its role. None of the materials suggested stabilizing U.S. population as one part of the solution to urban sprawl. The Sierra campaign instead focused its advocacy on creating more regulation and management of U.S. growth to ameliorate its adverse effects on the environment. And it assumed — and tacitly accepted — that the U.S. population would never stop growing.

According to this view, instead of shunning the compact development and higher housing densities of a country like Japan as foreign to the American Dream and our traditional notions of "elbow room" and freedom, more closely packed dwellings ought to be embraced so that population could continue to grow without spurring more sprawl. Pile people on top of each other instead of allowing them to spread out. Yet none of these density enthusiasts bothered to ask whether people like the Japanese actually choose to live compactly — or are forced to by circumstances. "Perhaps nothing defines Japan, the Japanese psyche and a Japanese person’s daily life more than space or the scarcity of it," concluded a Washington Post article. "You definitely have a feeling of no privacy," said one Tokyo resident, who hears every time a neighbor flushes a toilet, turns on a washing machine, or shouts at his children. "Japanese daily life is filled with rules and more rules, and many of them exist because of the space shortage," observed the story.33 This was the sort of future anti-sprawl, pro-population growth environmentalists were urging on America.

That Chattanooga room’s anecdotal reflection of the news media and environmental movement in the late-1990s was verified in national research by Professor T. Michael Maher of the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He conducted a study of news coverage of urban sprawl, endangered species, and water shortages — all issues profoundly affected by population growth. In a random sample of 150 stories on those issues, he found only about one in 10 even mentioned population growth as one source of the problem. And only one of the 150 stories mentioned that one part of the solution might be to try to stabilize the U.S. population.34

The journalists told Maher they were uncomfortable raising the population issue on their own. Without environmental groups themselves calling attention to the population factor, the journalists had few ready quotes or perspectives that would help them add that element to their stories. With the business and political establishments continuing to push for "more growth" and the environmental establishment now pushing for "smart growth," the special interest groups had defined a spectrum for the media that excluded "no growth" and "greatly reduced growth" from the range of available, acceptable options. Maher studied the membership materials for the nation’s environmental groups and discovered: "Population is off the agenda for the purported leaders of the environmental movement."35

So far off the agenda was population for established environmental groups that it actually took a developer’s organization — the 200,000-member National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — to remind the Sierra Club of population’s decisive role in forcing suburban sprawl. In a news release criticizing a Club report associated with its anti-sprawl campaign, the NAHB stated: "As in previous reports, the Sierra Club failed to acknowledge the significant underlying forces driving growth in suburban America — a rapidly increasing population and consumer preferences. The U.S. needs to construct between 1.3 and 1.5 million new housing units annually during the next decade simply to accommodate an anticipated 30 million increase in the nation’s population."36 (Obviously, the NAHB was not publicizing population growth’s influence because it wants to stop that growth — because of course its members profit directly from an ever-growing population with an ever-growing demand for housing. Rather, the NAHB was strongly implying that population growth is an inexorable, unstoppable force that must be accommodated at all costs.)

Out of dozens of national organizations in the late 1990s, there remained only one group — the National Audubon Society — which had an aggressive program to spotlight the environmental problems of U.S. population growth. And even then, Audubon did not address immigration, the overwhelming cause of present and projected U.S. growth. Nor did Audubon work for federal policies that could achieve stabilization. (Audubon’s Population and Habitat Campaign, in fact, distributed a fact sheet belittling immigration’s role in U.S. population growth.37) There were only two other groups — the Wilderness Society and the Izaak Walton League — which had official policies that specified federal action to move the country toward stabilization, but neither one invested program or staff into lobbying on behalf of their official policies.38

That was all that was left of the large coalition of environmental groups that in 1970 endorsed a resolution stating that "population growth is directly involved in the pollution and degradation of our environment — air, water, and land — and intensifies physical, psychological, social, political and economic problems to the extent that the well-being of individuals, the stability of society and our very survival are threatened." The same groups had committed themselves to "find, encourage and implement at the earliest possible time," the policies and attitudes that would bring about the stabilization of the U.S. population.39

The authors have given special emphasis to the year 1998 in this monograph because that was the year when the environmental movement erupted in a highly public battle over U.S. population issues. After more than two decades of dwindling interest in population issues, many of the old environmental guard from the 1970 era and many of their followers openly challenged the national leaderships of two influential organizations, the Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth, to put U.S. population stabilization — and the reduction in immigration levels it entailed — back on the agenda. The Sierra Club and ZPG, once so outspoken in the 1970s on the urgency of U.S. stabilization, had each changed their policies in the two years prior to 1998 to disassociate themselves from this cause. That is why the pro-stabilization environmentalists focused most of their efforts on these two groups in internal wrangling that garnered months of intense news coverage around the country. Because of that and the fact that both groups were the nation’s strongest proponents of U.S. stabilization in 1970, we use them as primary case studies in exploring how such a remarkable shift on such a core issue of the environmental movement could have occurred since 1970.

In 1998, the national Sierra Club leadership defeated those who tried to return their organization to its earlier pro-stabilization policy, which advocated both lower fertility and immigration.40 It remains to be seen whether this failed attempt represented the last gasp of the 1970-era environmental-population movement or if it was in fact the opening skirmish in a resurgent struggle.41 One indication that the latter might be true is that below national boards and staffs there were large numbers of members and activists who never dropped their commitment to population stabilization; in the 1998 Sierra Club national membership referendum, 40 percent of voters chose to overturn their national board of directors on the population issue, in spite of a concerted board effort to marginalize and stigmatize stabilization advocates.

Reviewing the Rejected "Foundational Formula" of 1970-Era Environmentalism

A succession of scientific and governmental commissions for three decades have come to the same conclusion — that there is a scientific rationale for stabilizing the U.S. population in order to meet environmental goals. While national environmental groups have dramatically changed their stance on U.S. population stabilization, government and scientific bodies have not.

In 1972, the bipartisan Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, chaired by John D. Rockefeller III (hence the Rockefeller Commission), called for stabilizing America’s population. The massive Global 2000 Report to the President, commissioned by Jimmy Carter in 1977 and carried out by an enormous research team headed up by the Council of Environmental Quality and the Department of State, recommended in 1981 that "The United States should....Develop a U.S. national population policy that includes attention to issues such as population stabilization..."2 The most recent major finding came in 1996 by President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development, established in the aftermath of the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (the "Earth Summit"). The council acknowledged the integral relationship between a stable population and sustainable development, declaring the need to "move toward stabilization of the U.S. population."3

Let us offer our understanding of the core goal of the 1970-era environmental movement:

The environmental movement’s purpose is to preserve, protect and restore the natural and human environment by reducing the total human impact on ecosystems — on watersheds, forests, ambient air basins, wildlife and their habitats, wetlands, estuaries, wilderness, and last but not least, on human health and quality of life. Many of these are issues within localized bio-regions. Others are national in scale or even global, such as marine overfishing, whaling, ocean dumping and the ecological and health effects of atmospheric nuclear testing.

The dominant activism of that time intrinsically included U.S. population stabilization because most environmentalists’ view of environmental quality was deeply shaped by what we will call here the Foundational Formula of the movement. That Formula expressed the movement’s understanding of the problem it was tackling and of how to solve it. The 1990s environmental movement is fundamentally different from the 1970-era movement because it has mostly abandoned that Foundational Formula.

There are several ways of expressing the environmental impacts of humanity. One of the best-known is the I=PAT equation offered by biologist Paul Ehrlich and physicist John Holdren: Environmental Impact (I) equals Population size (P) times Affluence, or consumption per person (A), times Technology, or damage per unit of consumption (T).4 The Population and Consumption Task Force of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development expressed it similarly in 1996: "The sum of all human activity, and thus the sum of all environmental, economic and social impacts from human activity, is captured by considering population together with consumption."5 The task force also discussed other formulas, such as the POET and PISTOL models, that attempt to make up for the limitations of the I=PAT equation by accounting for other factors such as human organization, information, and space. Still another writer has suggested modifying I=PAT to I=PACT to account for the importance of culture in determining overall environmental impact.6

However it was expressed, the Foundational Formula considered total environmental impact on a watershed or any given ecosystem to be the product of two factors:7

(1) Individual Impact

(2) Population Size

Individual Impact is the environmental effect of an average individual’s resource consumption from environmental "sources" (e.g. forests, fish stocks, petroleum fields, mineral ores, soils, rivers, aquifers, air) and waste generation into environmental "sinks" (e.g. the atmosphere, ground, aquifers, lakes, oceans). An individual does not have direct control over all of his or her environmental impact. That impact is determined directly by individual voluntary choices about consumption and lifestyle, and indirectly by collective political choices through laws and regulations limiting the impact of producers and consumers (including private and public sectors, individuals and institutions), by the vigor of enforcement of those rules, by available technology to reduce the impact of economic activities, by the financial ability of a society to utilize available technology, and by the methods corporations use to produce and market goods and services.

Population Size is the total number of individuals living in a given bio-region or ecosystem.

Thus, the Total Environmental Impact on the Chesapeake Bay is the result of the Individual Impact of a person living within the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed multiplied by the Population Size in the watershed.

This Formula for a specific ecosystem does not cover everything. For example, air pollution delivered by rain is a major problem for the Chesapeake. One of the sources of air pollution is the string of coal-burning power plants along the Ohio River — well outside the watershed. Thus, part of the quality of the Bay is determined by the per capita electricity consumption and size of populations both inside and outside the watershed that uses electricity from those Ohio River plants. Nonetheless, the overwhelming cause of Bay problems comes from the population within the watershed itself.

Still, just as some impacts to the watershed originate from outside its boundaries, residents of the watershed are also generating effects on other ecosystems in which they don’t live. "Ecological footprint" analysis demonstrates that, as a result of energy and material flows linked to interregional and international trade, individual consumers use or pre-empt ecologically productive land all over the nation and the world.8 The average American has an ecological footprint of 12.6 acres (about 12 football fields), compared to 10.6 acres for Canadians, 1.0 for Indians, and 4.4 for the world as a whole. The "footprint" is the area of ecologically productive land needed to supply per capita demand for food, housing, transportation, consumer goods and services, as well as the land area necessary to sequester carbon dioxide emissions (via photosynthesis) from energy use, i.e. fossil fuel combustion. A large population and high per capita consumption give the United States the dubious distinction of possessing the largest ecological footprint in the world. Even at the current population of the U.S. — to say nothing of its projected population — Americans run an ecological deficit, consuming 80 percent more ecologically productive land than we actually have. The difference is made up by our resource and energy (mostly oil) imports and our gargantuan appetite for non-renewable fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal, which provide us, in effect, with "ghost acreage" from the geologic past.9 We are, in other words, consuming our "natural capital" rather than living on "income" — an unsustainable course.

One doesn’t have to work with the Foundational Formula much to realize that changes in the Individual Impact and changes in the Population Size factor have roughly equal power over improving or deteriorating Total Environmental Impact. For example: Increasing the Individual Impact by 30 percent while holding Population Size constant, would have a tremendously deleterious effect on the Bay. And so would increasing Population Size by 30 percent (as Individual Impact is held constant). It really doesn’t matter which one is increased; the Bay feels similar pain.

In the real world, both Individual Impact and Population Size are constantly changing. Thus, the relative magnitude of each factor for an increasing or decreasing Total Environmental Impact must be calculated on a case-by-case basis. Consider the particularly important case of energy consumption — linked directly to a wide range of environmental impacts, such as smog, climate change, acid rain, oil spills, landscape disfigurement, acid mine drainage, radioactive waste, and indirectly to many others. Between 1950 and 1970, the increase in U.S. Population Size accounted for 43 percent of the rise in total U.S. energy consumption, while the increase in Individual Impact was responsible for 57 percent. But between 1970 and 1990 (while environmental groups focused primarily on Individual Impact), increases in Population Size caused 93 percent of the rise in total U.S. consumption.10

Simply ignoring one of the two factors of the Foundational Formula won’t stop that factor from changing the overall results. (As Aldous Huxley said, "Facts do not cease to exist merely because we choose to ignore them.") A person or group who works to improve the Individual Impact factor while allowing or even supporting deterioration of the Population Size factor may as a matter of intention favor environmental quality. But the effect of that kind of "half-Formula" environmentalism is to retard environmental improvement — and often to actually harm the environment.

This gets to the heart of the difference between the environmental movement of the 1970 era and that of the 1990s. By working on both factors of the environmental Foundational Formula, the early movement had a comprehensive approach to move toward restoration and protection of the environment. The later environmental movement, however, chose a course which allowed the Population Size factor to move ever upward. Every move upward by Population Size ratchets the Total Environmental Impact upward. Thus, the later "half-Formula" environmental movement would forever have to work for lower and lower Individual Impact just to keep the environment from deteriorating further — let alone to achieve restoration — running faster and faster just to stay in place. One needn’t be a physicist to recognize the infeasibility of this as a long-term strategy.

The authors of Beyond the Limits use the example of rising, nonlinear costs of pollution abatement as one moves toward 100 percent removal of pollutants to demonstrate how perpetual growth ultimately undermines environmental protection goals: "If the number of emission sources keeps growing...rising costs will be encountered. It may be affordable to cut pollutants per car in half. But then if the number of cars doubles, it is necessary to cut pollutants per car in half again just to keep the same air quality. Two doublings will require 75 percent pollution abatement. Three doublings will require 87.5 percent, and by then the cost of further abatement is usually prohibitive."11

The 1970-era environmentalists and successive government commissions recognized that correcting the environmental problems of the time through lowering Individual Impact would be a monumental task even if Population Size didn’t grow at all; attempting the corrections while population grew might make the task all but impossible. Consider this simple example:

  • Of 10,000 people in a small watershed, each contributes 10 units of pollution. Thus, 100,000 units of Total Environmental Impact are generated.
  • To achieve an acceptable, scientifically-based standard of environmental quality, let’s say that Total Environmental Impact must be reduced by 30 percent to 70,000 units of pollution.
  • That requires reducing each Individual Impact to 7 units (10,000 people X 7 units = 70,000 units).
  • But if the population grows by 30 percent at the same time, all the expense and effort to reduce Per Capita Impact by 30 percent will fail to meet the quality goal. By adding 3,000 people, there are now 13,000 people times 7 units, which equals 91,000 units of pollution — far over the 70,000-unit goal. Will everyone be willing to now undergo still another campaign of reducing their Per Capita Impact 23 percent more just to meet the original goal? (And if there is more increase in Population Size during that campaign, they will have to engage in yet a third round.)12

Many analysts in the 1970-era feared that a similar scenario would occur over the next three decades. They knew that if U.S. population continued to grow, even if Total Environmental Impact goals were reached, the government would always have to come back and force ever more Individual Impact cuts on its citizens.

Demographers could project that even if Baby Boomers adopted a below-replacement-level fertility, their very large numbers moving into prime child-bearing years would create a population momentum of around 12 percent growth over the next two decades after 1970. In fact, though, federal increases in immigration resulted in the U.S. population growing by more than 25 percent. (The Census Bureau projects that, under current immigration policies, U.S. population will grow by yet another 50 percent over the next 50 years.)

As the Foundational Formula would predict under such rapid population growth, most U.S. environmental goals set in the 1970s had not been met by 2000. The worsening of the Population Size factor had in many respects negated the improvements in the Individual Impact factor. For instance, America’s lakes and streams were to have become "fishable and swimmable," according to the 1972 Clean Water Act. But after more than half a trillion dollars spent controlling water pollution (costs passed on to consumers and taxpayers), around 40 percent of U.S. surface waters still weren’t fishable and swimmable in the mid-1990s.13 The nation has more nitrogen oxide (a smog precursor) and more carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) emissions than thirty years ago, more endangered species and fewer wetlands.14 Regulations on Individual Impact that were thought to be sufficient to meet overall goals had to be tightened much further.

The environmental groups never stopped pressing Congress to lessen Individual Impact on the environment by advocating legislation and regulations targeting private companies, government resource managers, and individual consumers. But through the years, they dropped their advocacy for dealing with the Population Size part of the environmental Formula. And as Congress numerous times debated and approved policies that increased Population Size substantially, the major environmental groups stood silent.

Population Issues and the 1970-Era Environmental Movement

Around 1970, U.S. population and environmental issues were widely and publicly linked. Probably nowhere was that more true than on college campuses. A college student in the late 1960s and early 1970s would have tended to have seen environmental and population issues as subsets of the same public-policy agenda. In environmental "teach-ins" across America, college students of the time heard repetitious proclamations on the necessity of stopping U.S. population growth in order to reach environmental goals; and the most public of reasons for engaging population issues was to save the environment. The nation’s best-known population group, Zero Population Growth (ZPG) — founded by biologists concerned about the catastrophic impacts of ever more human beings on the biosphere — was outspokenly also an environmental group. And many of the nation’s largest environmental groups had or were considering "population control" as major planks of their environmental prescriptions for America.

As Stewart Udall (Secretary of the Interior during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations) wrote in The Quiet Crisis: "Dave Brower [then executive director of the Sierra Club] expressed the consensus of the environmental movement on the subject in 1966 when he said, ‘We feel you don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy.’ "15 Brower encouraged Stanford University biologist and ZPG co-founder Paul Ehrlich to write The Population Bomb, published in 1968, which surpassed even Rachel Carson’s landmark work Silent Spring to become the best-selling ecology book of the 1960s.16 Ehrlich’s polemic echoed and amplified population concerns earlier raised by two widely read books, both published in 1948: In Our Plundered Planet, Fairfield Osborn, chairman of the Conservation Foundation, lamented that, "The tide of the earth’s population is rising, the reservoir of the earth’s living resources is falling."17 And in Road to Survival, William Vogt, a former Audubon Society official who later became the national director of Planned Parenthood, declared the United States already overpopulated at 147 million. "The Day of Judgment is at hand," he proclaimed apocalyptically.18

The seeming consensus among leaders of the nascent environmental movement was paralleled, and bolstered, by widespread agreement among influential researchers and scholars in the natural sciences, such as the University of Georgia’s Eugene P. Odum, a leading ecologist and author of the textbook Fundamentals of Ecology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1971); the University of California-Davis’ Kenneth E. F. Watt, a pioneering systems modeler and author of Principles of Environmental Science (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973); the Conservation Foundation’s Raymond Dasmann, a zoologist and author of The Destruction of California (New York: MacMillan, 1965); the University of California-Berkeley’s Daniel B. Luten, a chemist, natural resource specialist and author of Progress Against Growth (1986); and the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Garrett Hardin, a human ecologist, president of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and author of the most reprinted article ever — "The Tragedy of the Commons" — in the prestigious journal Science.19 Moreover, the Club of Rome-Massachusetts Institute of Technology project on "the predicament of mankind," published in the provocative 1972 title The Limits to Growth, identified population growth as one of the five basic, interrelated factors driving global environmental, social, and economic systems to eventual collapse.20

Such views were not confined to the United States. In 1972, Great Britain’s leading environmental journal, The Ecologist, published the hard-hitting Blueprint for Survival, supported by 34 distinguished biologists, ecologists, doctors, and economists, including Sir Julian Huxley, Peter Scott, and Sir Frank Fraser-Darling. With regard to population, the Blueprint stated: "First, governments must acknowledge the problem and declare their commitment to ending population growth; this commitment should also include an end to immigration."21

Organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970 note that U.S. population growth was a central theme.22 The nationwide celebration revealed a massive popular groundswell that helped spur Congress and the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations to enact a host of sweeping environmental laws23 and create a federal bureaucracy to implement and enforce those and others that had been pushed through in the 1960s. Two months after Earth Day, the First National Congress on Optimum Population and Environment convened in Chicago.24 Religious groups — especially the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church — urged for ethical and moral reasons that the federal government adopt policies that would lead to a stabilized U.S. population.

In an unprecedented 1969 speech, President Nixon addressed the nation about problems it would face if U.S. population growth continued unabated: "One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of the population. Whether man’s response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today."25 On January 1, 1970, Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),26 often referred to as the nation’s "environmental Magna Carta."27 In Title I of the act, the "Declaration of National Environmental Policy" began: "The Congress, recognizing the profound impact of man’s activity on the interrelations of all components of the environment, particularly the profound influences of population growth..."28 President Nixon and Congress jointly appointed environmental, labor, business, academic, demographic, population, and political representatives to a bipartisan Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, chaired by John D. Rockefeller III. Among its findings in 1972 was that it would be difficult to reach the environmental goals being established at the time unless the United States began stopping its population growth. Rockefeller wrote that "gradual stabilization of our population through voluntary means would contribute significantly to the nation’s ability to solve its problems."29

Environmental advocates envisioned making the transition to U.S. population stabilization within a generation — by the time the college activists of that period had children of their own in college. The Sierra Club, for example, in 1969 urged "the people of the United States to abandon population growth as a pattern and goal; to commit themselves to limit the total population of the United States in order to achieve a balance between population and resources; and to achieve a stable population no later than the year 1990."30

The environmentalists’ population emphasis heavily influenced the news media. Discussions of U.S. population problems were featured regularly on the front pages of newspapers, in magazine cover stories, the nightly TV news and even on network entertainment such as the popular Johnny Carson Show. Suddenly after more than 20 years of the Baby Boom, journalists and politicians were treating population growth as something that could and should be tamed rather than as a natural, inevitable force beyond human and humane control.

Most of that interest had disappeared by the 1990s, however — but not because population growth had stopped or the problems it causes solved.

The Missing Issue in Environmental Journalism

When the Society for Environmental Journalists held its annual conference in Chattanooga, Tenn., in October of 1998, urban sprawl was a recurring theme.

And no wonder: U.S. population growth was every bit as potent in 1998 as it had been in 1970: Some 2.5 million or more Americans were being added each year, at a rate faster than some third-world countries and ten times faster than Europe. It was a volume of growth nearly matching that of the Baby Boom years that helped trigger the 1970-era environmental/ population movement. The Earth Day 1970 vision of a stabilized American population within a generation had never materialized.

To put U.S. growth in perspective, consider that the decades between 1950 and 1970 had added 52 million Americans — driving total population to 203 million. That two-decade growth was not only unprecedented in a long history of continuous expansion, but almost double the growth of the next largest two-decade period. But growth barely abated in the 1970-90 period, with another 46 million added. Furthermore, the Census Bureau projected that growth in the next two-decade period (1990-2010) would exceed even the Baby Boom era. The nation already approached 275 million as the new century dawned.

Urban sprawl was featured in the keynote address of the environmental journalists’ 1998 Chattanooga conference. City officials proudly conducted tours of their efforts to control sprawl (although some admitted that they feared Atlanta’s massive sprawl could within a few years swallow all their efforts). Few journalists were from cities not struggling with the bitter fruits of the urban sprawl blighting late-1990s America: Mounting traffic congestion; endless disruptive road construction; spreading smog; worsening water pollution and tightening water supplies; disappearing wildlife habitats, farmland, and open spaces; overcrowded schools; overused parks and outdoor recreation facilities; the end of small-town life in communities that until recently had been beyond the city; the impending merging together of separate, unwieldy metropolitan areas into vast megalopolitan miasmas; and the overall deterioration in quality of life and the increasing social tensions of urban dwellers reflected in such phenomena as gated communities and "road rage."

Yet, the population growth exacerbating all those problems was strangely missing from a popular session in which a panel of newspaper reporters and editors discussed their expansive coverage of the problems from, the causes of, and the solutions to urban sprawl in different parts of the country. The panelists talked about problematic zoning, planning and lifestyle choices, but not about the 25 million new residents added each decade — or the sheer amount of space required for their housing, worksites, schools, roads, recreation facilities, shopping centers, and other infrastructure.31

When challenged from the audience, all the panelists agreed that urban sprawl would be far less destructive without the massive population growth that is occurring in America. And they agreed that urban life and environmental losses would be immensely different if some 70 million people had not been added to the U.S. population since 1970. But they indicated that they had not addressed U.S. population growth in their urban sprawl reporting because they wanted to direct readers toward solutions to urban sprawl per se. Since nothing could be done about population growth, they indicated, it couldn’t be part of the solution; thus, they did not write about population.

In the late 1990s, as in 1970, the problems stemming from U.S. population growth were huge news. But the underlying population growth itself and its causes were barely being mentioned. Al Gore, the "environmental vice president," gave it no emphasis in his national campaign against urban sprawl.32 In virtually a complete reversal of the 1970 conditions, U.S. population growth was treated by most environmental leaders and journalists as an implacable natural phenomenon, which, like hurricanes and earthquakes, we could not prevent but only adjust to.

Historians may find that the key reason for that fundamental shift in the way the public learned about environmental issues through the news media was the behavior of environmental advocacy groups. Journalists tend to look to competing interest groups to define the issues they cover. Business groups always have defined one end of the growth issue spectrum as they pushed for ever more population growth. At one time, environmental groups defined the other end by calling for no growth. By the late 1990s, however, those groups no longer emphasized population growth as something a nation could choose or reject. Most of the scores of American environmental groups either ignored U.S. population growth altogether, treated it as a negative but inexorable force whose effects can only be mitigated, or even suggested that growth in human numbers is environmentally benign.

That dramatic change in the strategy of the American environmental movement was reflected in the back of the Chattanooga hotel room where the sprawl panel took place. There, a representative from the national Sierra Club headquarters had placed a display of literature from the Club’s major new campaign against urban sprawl. The highly-publicized, multi-million-dollar campaign mentioned population growth only in passing, and then only to minimize its role. None of the materials suggested stabilizing U.S. population as one part of the solution to urban sprawl. The Sierra campaign instead focused its advocacy on creating more regulation and management of U.S. growth to ameliorate its adverse effects on the environment. And it assumed — and tacitly accepted — that the U.S. population would never stop growing.

According to this view, instead of shunning the compact development and higher housing densities of a country like Japan as foreign to the American Dream and our traditional notions of "elbow room" and freedom, more closely packed dwellings ought to be embraced so that population could continue to grow without spurring more sprawl. Pile people on top of each other instead of allowing them to spread out. Yet none of these density enthusiasts bothered to ask whether people like the Japanese actually choose to live compactly — or are forced to by circumstances. "Perhaps nothing defines Japan, the Japanese psyche and a Japanese person’s daily life more than space or the scarcity of it," concluded a Washington Post article. "You definitely have a feeling of no privacy," said one Tokyo resident, who hears every time a neighbor flushes a toilet, turns on a washing machine, or shouts at his children. "Japanese daily life is filled with rules and more rules, and many of them exist because of the space shortage," observed the story.33 This was the sort of future anti-sprawl, pro-population growth environmentalists were urging on America.

That Chattanooga room’s anecdotal reflection of the news media and environmental movement in the late-1990s was verified in national research by Professor T. Michael Maher of the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He conducted a study of news coverage of urban sprawl, endangered species, and water shortages — all issues profoundly affected by population growth. In a random sample of 150 stories on those issues, he found only about one in 10 even mentioned population growth as one source of the problem. And only one of the 150 stories mentioned that one part of the solution might be to try to stabilize the U.S. population.34

The journalists told Maher they were uncomfortable raising the population issue on their own. Without environmental groups themselves calling attention to the population factor, the journalists had few ready quotes or perspectives that would help them add that element to their stories. With the business and political establishments continuing to push for "more growth" and the environmental establishment now pushing for "smart growth," the special interest groups had defined a spectrum for the media that excluded "no growth" and "greatly reduced growth" from the range of available, acceptable options. Maher studied the membership materials for the nation’s environmental groups and discovered: "Population is off the agenda for the purported leaders of the environmental movement."35

So far off the agenda was population for established environmental groups that it actually took a developer’s organization — the 200,000-member National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — to remind the Sierra Club of population’s decisive role in forcing suburban sprawl. In a news release criticizing a Club report associated with its anti-sprawl campaign, the NAHB stated: "As in previous reports, the Sierra Club failed to acknowledge the significant underlying forces driving growth in suburban America — a rapidly increasing population and consumer preferences. The U.S. needs to construct between 1.3 and 1.5 million new housing units annually during the next decade simply to accommodate an anticipated 30 million increase in the nation’s population."36 (Obviously, the NAHB was not publicizing population growth’s influence because it wants to stop that growth — because of course its members profit directly from an ever-growing population with an ever-growing demand for housing. Rather, the NAHB was strongly implying that population growth is an inexorable, unstoppable force that must be accommodated at all costs.)

Out of dozens of national organizations in the late 1990s, there remained only one group — the National Audubon Society — which had an aggressive program to spotlight the environmental problems of U.S. population growth. And even then, Audubon did not address immigration, the overwhelming cause of present and projected U.S. growth. Nor did Audubon work for federal policies that could achieve stabilization. (Audubon’s Population and Habitat Campaign, in fact, distributed a fact sheet belittling immigration’s role in U.S. population growth.37) There were only two other groups — the Wilderness Society and the Izaak Walton League — which had official policies that specified federal action to move the country toward stabilization, but neither one invested program or staff into lobbying on behalf of their official policies.38

That was all that was left of the large coalition of environmental groups that in 1970 endorsed a resolution stating that "population growth is directly involved in the pollution and degradation of our environment — air, water, and land — and intensifies physical, psychological, social, political and economic problems to the extent that the well-being of individuals, the stability of society and our very survival are threatened." The same groups had committed themselves to "find, encourage and implement at the earliest possible time," the policies and attitudes that would bring about the stabilization of the U.S. population.39

The authors have given special emphasis to the year 1998 in this monograph because that was the year when the environmental movement erupted in a highly public battle over U.S. population issues. After more than two decades of dwindling interest in population issues, many of the old environmental guard from the 1970 era and many of their followers openly challenged the national leaderships of two influential organizations, the Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth, to put U.S. population stabilization — and the reduction in immigration levels it entailed — back on the agenda. The Sierra Club and ZPG, once so outspoken in the 1970s on the urgency of U.S. stabilization, had each changed their policies in the two years prior to 1998 to disassociate themselves from this cause. That is why the pro-stabilization environmentalists focused most of their efforts on these two groups in internal wrangling that garnered months of intense news coverage around the country. Because of that and the fact that both groups were the nation’s strongest proponents of U.S. stabilization in 1970, we use them as primary case studies in exploring how such a remarkable shift on such a core issue of the environmental movement could have occurred since 1970.

In 1998, the national Sierra Club leadership defeated those who tried to return their organization to its earlier pro-stabilization policy, which advocated both lower fertility and immigration.40 It remains to be seen whether this failed attempt represented the last gasp of the 1970-era environmental-population movement or if it was in fact the opening skirmish in a resurgent struggle.41 One indication that the latter might be true is that below national boards and staffs there were large numbers of members and activists who never dropped their commitment to population stabilization; in the 1998 Sierra Club national membership referendum, 40 percent of voters chose to overturn their national board of directors on the population issue, in spite of a concerted board effort to marginalize and stigmatize stabilization advocates.

Why the Change?

Let us look at the developments between 1970 and 1998 that led the leadership of environmental groups to abandon the issue of population stabilization.

Development 1: U.S. Fertility Dropped Below Replacement-Level Rate in 1972
Development 2: Abortion and Contraceptive Politics Created Organized Opposition
Development 3: Emergence of Women’s Issues as Priority Concern of Population Groups
Development 4: Schism between the Conservationist and New-Left Roots of the Movement
Development 5: Immigration Became the Chief Cause of U.S. Growth

Development 1: U.S. Fertility Dropped Below Replacement-Level Rate in 1972

In 1972, the U.S. Total Fertility Rate fell below the 2.1 births per woman that marks the replacement- level fertility rate. By 1976, fertility had hit an all-time low of 1.7 and hovered just above that for years.

A common remembrance of aging population activists is their memory of the night in 1973 when TV broadcasters announced that the 1972 U.S. fertility rate had reached zero population growth. The American people apparently were profoundly confused by this announcement, with many believing the U.S. population problem had been solved. (In fact, because of what demographers call "population momentum," it takes a country up to 70 years after the replacement-level fertility rate is reached to actually stop growing. But by 1972, the fertility rate had indeed declined to a level low enough to eventually produce zero population growth, as long as immigration remained reasonably low.)

With zero population growth supposedly achieved (or at least approached), many people in the population movement may have felt their activism was no longer needed. Americans had reduced the size of the average family as far as was necessary. On average they were living up to the battle cry of "stop at two." Many activists shifted their former population energies into feminism, other aspects of conservation and environmentalism, or moved on to other pursuits altogether. "Full-Formula" environmentalism that dealt with both Individual Impact and Population Size factors shrank to a small core constituency as quickly as it had burst into a mass popular movement. The population committees of environmental groups lost popularity and significance or disbanded altogether.

The change to "half-Formula" (or "Individual Impact-only") environmentalism would have made sense if indeed the U.S. population no longer was growing, or if overall environmental quality goals had been achieved. Neither was the case in the 1970s, however.

The neglect of the population issue within organizations surely influenced new employees as they came on board during this period. Many of them probably never heard of the "full-Formula" environmental approach. They worked only on the Individual Impact side of the Formula. Many had little background in the natural sciences, resource conservation, or analytical/quantitative fields. To them, population advocacy may have looked like an external issue that could easily be left to external groups to handle.

Some population groups which had been reluctant to expand their worldwide focus to include the much-more-controversial domestic U.S. population issues may have felt they had been let off the hook by the U.S. fertility news. That left the work of keeping the flame of the movement alive to ZPG and to smaller environment-oriented population groups: Negative Population Growth and the Environmental Fund (now called Population-Environment Balance). ZPG lost a large part of its "Johnny-Carson-era" membership. Still, its leaders knew well that fertility could easily rise above replacement-level fertility again and that there was another source of population growth (immigration) in addition to fertility that also needed attention.

Fertility as a Racial Issue. Perhaps another factor was at work as well. The overwhelmingly non-Hispanic, white leadership of the environmental movement may have felt it was defensible to address population growth as long as the great bulk of this growth came from non-Hispanic whites, which it did during the Baby Boom. ("We have met the enemy, and he is us!" from the Walt Kelly Pogo cartoon was a favorite quote of population activists in this era.) But the situation changed dramatically after 1972. From that year forward, the fertility of non-Hispanic whites was below the replacement rate while that of black Americans and Latinos remained well above the replacement rate.42 To talk of fertility reductions after 1972 was to draw disproportionate attention to non-whites.

Certain ethnic minorities and their spokespersons — with vivid collective memories of disgraceful treatment at the hands of the white majority and acutely aware of their comparative powerlessness in American society — were deeply suspicious of possible hidden agendas in the population stabilization movement. As the Reverend Jesse Jackson told the Rockefeller Commission in 1971: "...[any] group that has been subjected to as much harassment as our community has is suspect of any programs that would have the effect of either reducing or leveling off our population growth. Virtually all the security we have is in the number of children we produce."43 Dr. Eugene S. Callender, president of the New York Urban Coalition added: "Within this country, Blacks, Indians, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Orientals feel that such [population] control is solely to the advantage of the majority population. Minority groups at this point in history do not feel that they can afford to trust that the ‘nobler instincts’ of the white majority will prohibit the resurgence of subtle and overt forms of racism."44 And Manuel Aragon, speaking in Spanish, declared to the Commission: "...what we must do is to encourage large Mexican American families so that we will eventually be so numerous that the system will either respond or it will be overwhelmed."45

During the 26 years after 1972, the non-Hispanic white share of population growth declined significantly from the 1970 era.46 Thus, by the 1990s, a majority of the nation’s growth stemmed from sources other than non-Hispanic whites (especially Latin American and Asian immigrants and their offspring). Environmentalist leaders — proud and protective of their claim to moral high ground — may have been reluctant to jeopardize this by venturing into the political minefield of the nation’s volatile racial/ethnic relations through appearing to point fingers at "outsiders," "others," or "people of color" as responsible for America’s ongoing problem with population growth.

Yet by opting out of this risk, environmentalists effectively abandoned the American environment to the mercy of endless population growth — which will have multiple, adverse, and growing environmental impacts regardless of its source. William Hollingsworth’s book Ending the Explosion contains a hypothetical debate in the U.S. Senate on the global population growth issue that is also germane to U.S. domestic population growth:

Senator See now breaks her silence. "....I can easily see why you object to ‘the population explosion’: the populations that are still growing so fast are those of people of color. What some of your ilk call ‘zero population growth’ is but one more example of Western white racism and neocolonialism."

An upset Senator Sane responds. "Senator See, the sense and sanity I value are woven from all colors. The population explosion would be no less alarming to me were it wholly composed of folks with white skin and pink elbows. But I fear there is no way I can convince you of that, given my race’s shameful record of racism. Perhaps we whites of the North countries should say nothing about population growth in Africa, Asia, and Latin America."

"But," begins Senator Straight, "such a cowardly silence would place not seeming to be racist ahead of not being racist. One of the most condescending things, and thus one of the most racist things, that can be done to the nations of the South is this: ask of them something less than their critical share of responsibility for building a humane global future."47

Development 2: Abortion and Contraceptive Politics Created Organized Opposition

In June of 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved oral contraceptives for sale. By the late 1960s, the Vatican and American Catholic leadership were engaged in a major counterattack to the growing use of contraceptives in the United States. They focused a considerable amount of their ire on groups advocating population control. Their focus made a certain sense from their point of view. Most population and environmental groups which called for stabilization also made explicit calls, not for abstinence or celibacy, but rather for more availability of reliable, safe contraceptives and sex education. Many of them also called for the legalization of abortion.

Then in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion. That set off a much more intense campaign by the Catholic Church — and increasingly by conservative Protestants — against the whole of the population movement.

Abortion had been something of a minor issue within the population stabilization movement but was included because of the thought that fertility might not be brought to replacement level without the availability of abortion. As it turned out, legalized abortion was not a necessary component to reach replacement-level fertility. America reached its stabilization fertility goal the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion.

But to the Catholic hierarchy and the pro-life movement, the legalized abortion and population stabilization causes have been inextricably linked. In the 1990s, it was still difficult for a pro-stabilization person or group to get a hearing among many Catholic and pro-life groups without being automatically considered an abortion apologist.

A number of leaders of philanthropic foundations and politicians involved with population efforts in the 1970s have said that active measures by Catholic bishops and the Vatican were the greatest barrier to moving population measures and in setting a national population policy. Congressman James Scheuer was a member of the 1972 Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. In 1992, he wrote that "the Vatican and others blocked any reasonable discussion of population problems."48 This opposition applied both nationally and internationally. In a 1993 interview, Milton P. Siegel, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization from 1946 to 1970, indicated that, "one way or another, sometimes surreptitiously, the Catholic church used its influence to defeat, if you will, any movement toward family planning or birth control."49

As population activists reported on the Catholic activism and criticized it, the population movement began to be tarred as anti-Catholic. Environmental groups seeking membership, funds, and support from a wide spectrum of Americans had good reason to stay out of population issues altogether, rather than risk offending their own current and potential members who also were members of the largest religious denomination in America. Environmental groups with Catholic board members were known to use them as reasons for not being more involved in population issues.

Roman Catholic opposition, both from the Vatican itself and from American Catholics, apparently played a key role in pressuring government policy-makers as well. On May 5, 1972, gearing up for his re-election campaign, President Nixon publicly disavowed the recommendations of his own Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, which U.S. Catholic bishops had blasted for its permissive attitude toward contraception and abortion.50 Evidently still concerned about overpopulation, however, Nixon ordered a study in April 1974 of the national security implications of population growth.51 When released in 1975, President Gerald Ford endorsed the findings of National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200). The report strongly stated that exploding populations in the third world would threaten the security of the United States. These threats would come from the destabilization of those countries’ economic, political, and ecological systems. Besides recommending helping those nations curb their population growth, NSSM 200 called on the U.S. to provide world leadership in population control by seeking to attain stabilization of its own population by the year 2000.52

Although President Ford endorsed the NSSM 200, nothing ever came of it. Historians should carefully sort through the evidence that NSSM 200 was never implemented because of intense pressure applied by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Bishops (and that U.S. government officials of Roman Catholic background were particularly susceptible to such pressure). "American policy [toward support of international family planning programs] was changed as a result of the Vatican’s not agreeing with our policy," President Reagan’s ambassador to the Vatican told Time magazine.53 How much pressure was actually exerted is an important question to resolve. With the U.S. fertility rate at such a low level anyway, it was easier for government officials to ignore the recommendations of NSSM 200, the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, the Global 2000 Report to the President, and numerous scientists and population activists that the United States move forthwith to stabilize its population.

Active efforts within Catholic circles arose to disprove that rising population size had anything to do with deterioration of natural or human environments or the ability of poor countries with rapidly-growing populations to develop economically.54 The worldwide — as opposed to the U.S. — population stabilization movement now had major organized opposition that was gladly encouraged and touted by economic and class interests which saw their wealth and power threatened by a slowing of population growth. This counter-movement had its intellectual underpinnings as well. Certain influential writers, scholars, and well-endowed think-tanks actually went as far as arguing not just that population growth was benign, but that it was good, even essential to continued economic and technological progress.55 The best-known advocate of the "growth is good" school was the late Julian L. Simon, who argued that the human mind was "the ultimate resource," and that the more of those minds there were, the more collective human ingenuity there would be to solve problems, create new resources, and forge a better future.56 Simon’s best known and most criticized claim was that "we have in our hands now — actually in our libraries — the technology to feed, clothe and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years."57

Historians, however, will want to be careful in ascribing to the whole of the Catholic Church aggressive support for never-ending population growth. The voices from within the hierarchy have been decidedly mixed. The U.S. Catholic bishops in 1991 spoke glowingly of education, good nutrition, and health care for women and children that, "promise to improve family welfare and contribute to stabilizing population....Even though it is possible to feed a growing population, the ecological costs of doing so ought to be taken into account."58 And just before the 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Italian Bishops’ Conference released a study by the Papal Academy of Science entitled "Too Many Births?" It argued that birth control is necessary, "to prevent the emergence of insoluble problems." It suggested that the birth rate must not "notably exceed the level of two children per couple."59

Development 3: Emergence of Women’s Issues as Priority Concern of Population Groups

Another reason environmental groups did not fully engage U.S. population issues in the 1980s and 1990s was that the groups that specialized in population issues drifted away from population stabilization and environmental protection as primary reasons for being. Those groups had played key roles in the 1970 era by prodding the environmental groups to join them and by doing the bulk of the research that was used by the environmentalists. Except for the small groups Negative Population Growth, Population Environment Balance, and Carrying Capacity Network (founded in 1989), however, that role ended by the 1990s.

By the 1990s, for example, Planned Parenthood no longer played a significant role in advocating for U.S. population stabilization to protect the environment. Its focus had narrowed to making sure that women had full access to the whole range of options concerning fertility and births. That had always been a primary mission of Planned Parenthood, but one of the major purposes of empowering women had once been to reduce U.S. population growth.

Another prime example was Zero Population Growth, which did not totally abandon interest in population size, but nevertheless excised "stabilization" from its mission for the United States in the 1990s, as it promoted an agenda focused on women’s issues and international access to birth control.

To understand these shifts, historians will need to look at the differing roots of the 1970-era population movement. While one root included people with high environmental consciousness, several roots did not. Many of the early population leaders were primarily concerned about health issues, others about development issues. Still others were predecessors of the modern feminist movement. The environmentalist angle tended to be pushed out front during the late 1960s as environmentalism reached mass popularity. But as environmentalists abandoned population issues in the 1970s, the population groups more and more de-emphasized their environmental motives as they increased their attention to women’s issues. By the 1990s, some of the groups actually opposed helping the environment through population stabilization or reduction efforts. Christian Science Monitor correspondent George Moffett observed: "Women’s groups complain that overstating the consequences of rapid population growth has created a crisis atmosphere in some countries, which has led to human rights violations in the name of controlling fertility."60

For population groups to focus on women’s empowerment did not necessarily work against stabilization efforts. But there were already women’s emphasis groups, and the shift of focus of population groups left the country with virtually no major voices explicitly calling for stabilization.

The most striking evidence of population groups’ declining emphasis on numerical goals occurred at the 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. As Catholic lay theologian George Wiegel observed, "Over the long haul...the most significant development at the Cairo Conference may have been a shift in controlling paradigms: from ‘population control’ to ‘the empowerment of women.’"61 Previous U.N. population conferences in 1974 and 1984, although not without controversy, had focused on population growth itself and the need and means to tame it. At Cairo, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the United States, dominated by feminists like former New York congresswoman Bella Abzug, were part of a lobby that prevented the Cairo conference from setting any numerical targets or even stating that population growth should be stopped.62 One NGO, called the International Women’s Health Coalition, circulated a declaration at Cairo stating that a woman had the absolute right to have the number of children she wanted.63 "The Cairo Programme contains hundreds of recommendations about women’s rights and other social issues but almost none about population," wrote Lindsey Grant, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Population Affairs.64

The conferees thus gave short shrift to the concerns of eminent scientists and environmentalists, like Nobel Prize laureate and MIT physics professor Henry W. Kendall, the legendary oceanographer and documentary filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Academy, and the more than 1,600 prominent scientists who signed the "World Scientists Warning to Humanity." All of them had advised on the urgency of stopping population growth. Yet these appeals fell largely on deaf ears. One observer identified five interest groups represented at Cairo: the population concerned community, the market preference community, the distribution community, the women’s initiatives community, and the Vatican. Of these, only one (the population concerned community) even wanted to draw attention to the problems of population growth.65

Now centered in a feminist rather than environmental mission, many population, family planning, and women’s groups would support no talk of stopping growth or reducing average family size because that implied restrictions on what they considered a universal right of women to choose their number of children entirely free of the merest hint of official or informal pressure. Women’s-issues advocates ensured that the results of the conference were primarily about the empowerment and well-being of women, not the size of populations around the world. The stance was this: If there was a problem with population size or growth rates, it would be resolved by giving women more education, health care, legal rights, employment opportunities and readier access to contraceptives. Women should be left alone to decide on the size of their families, without any national or international direction as to what size would be best for society.

Liberty or Limits? Lindsey Grant has observed the transformation of population groups for decades. He says the Cairo fight exposed an old fault line between those primarily interested in making contraceptives available to help people limit their contribution to population growth and those wanting to make them available to give women more liberty and power. The two goals are not mutually exclusive. As homemakers and housewives, women in particular bear the brunt of large families.66 Furthermore, commentators add, reducing population growth nearly always should improve the quality of life for society as a whole by freeing up scarce time, labor, capital, and resources. The surplus can then be re-directed into capital formation, education, resource conservation, infrastructure, and the like.67 Stabilization advocates often cite the fact that no nation has moved out of its poverty without many years of declining population growth.68 Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Singapore, and China are prime examples. On the other side, empowering women (especially through enhanced economic opportunities) usually helps them avoid unwanted pregnancies and to desire smaller families.69 Experience shows, however, that without strong societal education and encouragement, the desired smaller families are often more than two children — sometimes substantially more — in which case population growth does not cease. Stabilization advocates at Cairo demanded that women’s empowerment include strong recommendations that they limit their family size to two children.

The "liberty" side of the movement triumphed over the "limits" advocates, Grant concluded. In the final international agreement for action, nowhere was it said that population growth should stop. Nowhere were growing countries urged to give a higher priority to slowing or stopping population growth. Governmental incentives for reducing fertility were rejected as too coercive toward women.70 While the Vatican received the most media publicity for its efforts to keep the Cairo conference from establishing population goals, the feminist groups ended up working hand-in-glove with the Vatican to ensure that result.71 The feminist groups defeated the Vatican, however, on the issue of making contraceptives more widely available. Even then, they changed funding recommendations to put less emphasis on contraceptives than had been requested by international experts. Those experts had told the conference that $17 billion a year was needed just to provide contraceptives to more than 100 million women who wanted them but could not afford them. The final Cairo decision was to put only $6 billion of that into contraceptives and the rest into other health projects.72 An Indonesian delegate summarized the shift in dominant perspectives: "We have stopped calling women the receptors of contraceptives. We now call them agents of change."73

Perhaps the clearest sign that many population groups had divorced themselves from the environmental movement was that the long international document from Cairo made no mention of the connections between population growth and the environmental ills of countries with growing populations: deforestation, land degradation, flooding, desertification, wild species decline and extinction, water scarcity and pollution, horrendous urban air quality, and chaotic urban growth, among others.

While many in the non-profit population movement effectively de-linked themselves from environmental concerns, many environmental groups adopted those same de-linked population goals. By way of example, the population program at one of the nation’s largest environmental groups — the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) — became focused largely on promoting the Cairo action plan of advancing women’s rights rather than stopping growth for environmental reasons. An interview with NWF staff convinced one observer that female empowerment had become an end unto itself rather than a means to reduced family size, population stability, and environmental conservation — green images and verbiage on the NWF population program’s Internet web page notwithstanding.74

Substituting the Means for the End. What is the problem with this, one might ask, if empowerment of women does in fact lead to reduced fertility? There are three problems with substituting the means for the end on this issue. One is that, given the reality of scarce financial resources, diverting already inadequate funds from contraceptives and into other women’s issues means fewer dollars for birth control in a world where more than 100 million women (according the U.N.’s World Fertility Survey) say they would like to stop having more children but lack the means. Worldwide, 30 years after international family planning programs were launched, 40 percent of married women still do not use contraceptives.75 The Washington-based Population Institute stresses that: "Fertility declines in all regions of the world once again prove that economic prosperity is not an essential precursor to population stabilization. Most of the countries that have achieved replacement-level or near-replacement-level fertility in the recent past have been less developed ones. The common denominator among them is increased awareness and use of contraception."76

Second, frequent births, large families, and rapid population growth themselves hinder the emancipation of women toward educational and employment opportunities. By the time women have achieved a social status acceptable to their advocates, populations may well have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. Moreover, as anthropologist Virginia Abernethy points out, higher educational attainment (to cite one favored goal) is not a guarantee of reduced fertility. "In some parts of Africa, even highly educated women who are unemployed or marginally employed continue to bear many children," she writes.77 Abernethy also marshals compelling evidence questioning the comfortable assumptions of the popular "benign demographic transition" theory that has dominated professional demography and international development assistance efforts for decades. This theory holds that birth rates will come down of their own accord as societies develop. "Development is the best contraceptive," went the mantra at the first U.N. conference on population in Bucharest in 1974. Abernethy argues that signs of opportunity or prosperity — such as better child survival, land redistribution programs, political revolutions, indiscriminate foreign aid, opportunities to emigrate, and income increases — instead of reducing fertility, actually tend to raise it. America’s own baby boom during the booming post-World War II period is one prominent example of this phenomenon.

A third problem, as Lindsey Grant comments, is that "there is no justification for the assumption that free choice will, unguided, lead to the socially desirable level of fertility [i.e. replacement level or below]. It is myth masquerading as truth."78 Even though fertility in developing nations has been cut in half over the last three years, it still averages 3 children per female,79 50 percent above replacement level, and in some countries the decline may have "stalled." The preferred number of children in most developing regions, especially Africa, far exceeds the replacement level. Given the great variety of cultures in the world, it is simply unrealistic to assume that women everywhere will choose to follow the fertility patterns of European, North American, and some Asian women.

Zero Population Growth. This shift away from an overriding concern with population and environmental limits may be seen most importantly in the group Zero Population Growth (ZPG). In 1968, the Sierra Club published Paul Ehrlich’s sensational book The Population Bomb, which warned tersely of imminent famine and ecological catastrophe unless population growth was halted around the world. Population stabilization was ignited into a national movement and helped awaken most environmental groups and activists to the threat of unchecked population growth. Zero Population Growth was founded that same year to take advantage of the widespread publicity the book generated. Professor Ehrlich appeared on Johnny Carson’s show many times. Each time he appeared, ZPG got phone calls or letters from twenty to thirty thousand people.80

Hundreds of ZPG chapters sprang up overnight. ZPG’s first leaders were described as all being pro-environmentalist, pro-choice, and pro-family planning. In the beginning, ZPG had a motto, "Zero Population Growth is our name and our mission." There were several large organizations dealing with population growth in other countries. But ZPG’s primary mission was explicitly to stabilize the U.S. population, according to members of the early ZPG boards of directors.81 That remained the stated mission through the 1980s.

In the 1970s, ZPG’s population policy recommendations covered every contribution to U.S. population growth. It included stands on contraceptives, sex education for teenagers, equality for women, abortion, opposition to illegal immigration, and proposals to reduce legal immigration from about 400,000 a year to 150,000 a year by 1985 in order to reach zero population growth by 2008.82

ZPG started the modern immigration-reduction movement in the 1970s. After American fertility fell below replacement level, the ZPG board recognized that immigration was rising rapidly and would soon negate all the benefits of lower fertility. Even though immigration seemed separate from the family planning issues that had dominated precursor population organizations, ZPG tackled it squarely because it related to the issue of U.S. population stabilization, which was deemed essential to the health of the American environment. By the late 1970s, the ZPG leaders who were the most interested in immigration issues spun off a new organization called the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Among them was John Tanton, who had also been a member of the Sierra Club’s National Population Committee. Their idea was that FAIR would take no stand on abortion and other controversial family planning issues in order to attract a wider constituency which would work for immigration reform not only for environmental reasons, but for economic relief for the working poor and taxpayers, for social cohesion, and for national security.

The ZPG leaders who left the ZPG board for FAIR also happened to be most of the people with the greatest interest in population as an environmental issue. That meant that those remaining on the board were more inclined toward the type of population movement that was rooted in family planning and women’s issues. While ZPG continued to have policies on U.S. stabilization and the environment — and produce some useful educational materials — these policies and programs got less and less staff and board attention as the 1980s progressed. New staff were hired less on the basis of their environmental expertise and commitment and more because of their commitment to women’s issues. One former board member and local ZPG activist recalled that board members and key staff "have been close to women’s groups for some time, and want to please them."83

By 1996, ZPG was focused overwhelmingly on global population issues from the women’s empowerment perspective. A secondary focus was excessive consumption by Americans.84 The board removed the word "stabilize" from much of its literature and its Mission Statement. On October 25, 1997, the ZPG board substituted "slowing" for "stopping" so that it then advanced a goal of merely "slowing" U.S. and world population growth. ZPG’s president Judith Jacobsen wrote in the newsletter ZPG Reporter that the reason ZPG didn’t support creating U.S. policies to reduce domestic population growth was that population problems in third world countries needed to be resolved first. She said that the "Cairo Conference taught us that changing the conditions of women’s lives is the most powerful answer" for population problems. She then gave a long list of ZPG’s essential commitments, none of which were population stabilization or environmental protection.85

Thus, just before its 30th anniversary, ZPG had severed its goals from its name and its founding mission — zero population growth. Also abandoned as a central concern was the protection of the American environment which had been at the heart of ZPG’s founding. ZPG had not necessarily turned anti-environment or anti-stabilization, but it had evolved into an organization with different priorities. For many of those associated with the "old ZPG," like former president Judy Kunofsky, former board member Joyce Tarnow, and former member of its citizen’s advisory board Albert A. Bartlett, this change was deeply disappointing.86

In a April 22, 1997 letter to the ZPG board (to which she never received a reply), Tarnow called the group’s position on legal immigration levels "terribly inadequate" and urged it to engage in a dialogue with immigration reform organizations. The prospects for this looked dim, however, in view of Executive Director Peter Kostmayer’s recent comments to Floridians that "disparaged the immigration reform movement as basically xenophobic."87 Later that year, after 27 years of dedicated membership and service, Tarnow resigned from ZPG, because of its "unwillingness to take a rational position on legal immigration reform." She commented with regret that "The actions of this Board, its officers and executive director, have confirmed for me that the purpose of the organization has been abandoned for reasons unknown."88 ZPG board chair Judith Jacobsen responded that:

Feelings run high and intense on the immigration issue, on all sides. The majority of the ZPG board feels that its position is a careful balance among demographic needs, moral constraints, and political realities. We have spent a great deal of time working it out, most recently in a nine-hour discussion at our October meeting. I’m sorry that you don’t share this position.89

Development 4: Schism between the Conservationist and New-Left Roots of the Movement

Historians are likely to find other important clues to the environmental movement’s shift by studying the roots of the modern environmental movement. Three of the roots are of special interest here.

Two of the roots go back a century: (1) The wilderness preservation movement was exemplified by John Muir, the National Parks, and later, and National Wilderness Areas. (2) The resource conservation movement was exemplified by President Theodore Roosevelt, his chief forester Gifford Pinchot, and the National Forests.90

The preservationists focused on a love of the outdoors and on preservation of natural areas and wildlife for their own intrinsic value as well as for the enjoyment and spiritual nourishment of present and future generations.91 They included such well-established, non-profit organizations as the Audubon Society, Izaak Walton League, Wilderness Society, and Sierra Club.

The conservationists focused on the prudent stewardship and sustainable utilization of natural resources like timber, water, soils, and minerals, in pursuit of the "greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time," in Pinchot’s memorable phrase.92 The conservation movement gave birth to such professions as forestry, agronomy, and game (wildlife) and fisheries management. It was represented by such federal government agencies as the U.S. Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Geological Service and by state-level counterparts in all fifty states.

Although conservationists and preservationists have often been at bitter odds since the divisive, decade-long struggle over whether to dam Hetch-Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park (which destroyed the friendship of Muir and Pinchot), there is in fact considerable common ground between the goals and leading proponents of the American preservationist and conservationist movements. Aldo Leopold — the founder of modern game management, co-founder of the Wilderness Society, and author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac93 — straddled both camps. So did Robert Marshall, chief of recreation for the U.S. Forest Service in the 1930s and a Wilderness Society co-founder as well.

A third root of the modern environmental movement is much younger. It was an outgrowth of what was called New-Left politics with a strong strain of socialism, as espoused by its guru of the 1970 era, Barry Commoner. This root was given its strongest impetus with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring by naturalist Rachel Carson.94 Although Carson was deeply concerned about the unforeseen effects of pesticides and other man-made poisons being released indiscriminately into the natural environment, this third root of modern environmentalism came to focus more on urban and health issues such as air, water, and toxic contamination, as they affected the human environment. Commoner, in fact, criticized conservationists for putting wildlife ahead of human health. As journalist Mark Dowie writes: "The central concern of the new movement is human health. Its adherents consider wilderness preservation and environmental aesthetics worthy but overemphasized values. They are often derided by anti-toxic activists as bourgeois obsessions."95 A staffer for a regional environmental group working with low-income Hispanic residents of New Mexico to protect their groundwater and drinking wells from industrial contamination startled one conservationist by ridiculing the priorities of those working to protect wildlife in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.96

Having much in common with the emerging Green parties of Europe (social justice, peace, and ecology), the new "greens" of America joined with the wilderness preservationists and resource conservationists as the modern environmental movement was born in the 1960s. But the New Left greens held opposite views on population from those of most preservationists and conservationists. In his influential 1971 book The Closing Circle and elsewhere, Barry Commoner minimized the role of population as a cause of environmental problems. Commoner said the problems attributed to population growth were actually caused by unfair distribution of resources and by profitable technologies. Environmental degradation could be rectified by changing economic systems.97

Like free-market libertarians on the right, and like Marxist theoreticians on the left all over the world, the New Left greens believed that population problems could be solved by choosing the correct economic system. They saw few or no limits to growth, believed excessive consumption (on the part of the rich) rather than excessive population was at the root of environmental degradation, and often decried a concern about overpopulation as "blaming the victims of oppression," at best, or thinly disguised racism at worst.98 Left-wing environmentalist and newspaper columnist Alexander Cockburn compared the 1998 Sierra Club referendum on U.S. population stabilization to a Ku Klux Klan rally on the op-ed page of the largest newspaper on the West Coast — concluding that the Sierra vote was the "much more sinister and dangerous..." of the two.99

Conservationists and preservationists, in contrast, had always been concerned about some aspects of population growth. As far back as 1939, Wilderness Society co-founder Robert Marshall opposed a plan (never implemented) to settle thousands of European Jewish refugees in Alaska — in spite of the fact that he himself was Jewish — because that federally-sponsored population growth in the country’s last, vast wilderness area "would diminish the opportunity for individualism and self-sufficiency that still flourished in the isolated, unmapped expanse of the north."100 Conservationists and preservationists became especially alarmed by the Baby Boom impact on the environment. Their decades of experience watching wilderness and other habitats disappear under the constant growth of U.S. population led large numbers of them to confront that growth boldly and directly by the late 1960s. Wilderness advocate and popular Southwestern author Edward Abbey spoke for many when he said that "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."101

It appears that the New Left greens tried to keep population issues off the Earth Day 1970 agenda. They lost. Conservationists and preservationists succeeded in retaining their fundamental tenet that there could be no permanent environmental preservation without limiting human numbers. The college students and young adults who were rushing into the movement at the time may have been more temperamentally inclined toward the anti-war, anti-establishment New Left greens, but the young new environmentalists — armed with millions of dog-eared copies of The Population Bomb — seemed to overwhelmingly accept the old-line conservationists’ assessment of population. Most of the new more-liberal environmental groups that were formed at the time rejected the New Left’s opposition to fighting never-ending population growth and joined with the conservationists on their population stances.

But the New Left wing of environmentalism reversed its losses in the 1990s, according to Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman, one of the most publicized and aggressive players in the first 20 years of U.S. environmentalism.102 He said the New Left wing — which he called "Progressive Cornucopians" — established its anti-stabilization view as the dominant one in the national staffs and boards of many groups, including the Sierra Club. Professor George Sessions, one of the founders of the deep ecology movement, commented on the influence of "postmodernists" (who reject the concept of "objective" truth and believe nature is but a "social construct"). He documented the hostility of postmodernists to much of the nature conservation and population stabilization causes.103

On the winning side of the 1990s population policy conflict were people like Brad Erickson, coordinator of the Political Ecology Group, which played a key role in helping the Sierra Club board abandon its proscriptive population stabilization policy in 1996 and then fight off the pro-stabilization Sierra members in 1998.104 Erickson said the fight was a replay of the one at Earth Day 1970, which the New Left greens lost.105 He said the plan of the New Left greens in the 1960s had been to use the environmental issue as one of several they hoped would bloom into a full manifestation of a progressive movement far beyond the confines of traditional American economics and culture. But conservationists hi-jacked Earth Day, forced their population issues into it and the movement, and have limited the effectiveness of environmentalism ever since, Erickson explained. This view is shared by author Mark Dowie, who argues that population stabilization and immigration reform have retarded the transformation of conservation-and preservation-oriented environmentalism into a movement for "environmental justice."106 By abandoning their limits-to-growth population ideology in the 1990s, the environmental groups could at last form coalitions with groups organized around a variety of non-environmental progressive causes, unencumbered by embarrassing population concerns.

Development 5: Immigration Became the Chief Cause of U.S. Growth

Immigration emerged in the 1970s as the leading cause of continuing U.S. population growth. Immigration was an issue that none of the environmental groups had ever handled. Almost overnight, the U.S. population growth challenge had changed from being driven by American fertility to federal immigration policy. That forced environmental groups to make a choice to either (a) pursue U.S. stabilization by working for immigration reductions, or (b) abandon U.S. stabilization.

Such a choice surely was a shock to many environmental leaders. Left to future historians is a determination of how many made the choice consciously and how many passively chose option "b" simply by refusing to choose.

When most Americans began to focus on U.S. growth in the 1960s, immigration was an almost insignificant fraction of growth. Over the previous half-century, annual legal immigration had averaged less than 200,000 — below the historical average of around 250,000 a year.107

Modifications in immigration law in 1965 inadvertently started a chain migration through extended family members that began to snowball during the 1970s. Every aspect of population growth in the United States changed, according to voluminous government reports from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Census Bureau, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

At the very time that American fertility fell to a level that would have allowed population stabilization within a matter of decades, immigration levels were rising rapidly. Father Theodore Hesburgh, then president of Notre Dame University, was the chairman of a federal commission that studied immigration policies and issues in the late 1970s.108 He warned that immigration numbers would continue to rise because of two powerful political interest groups: (1) conservative business interests which pushed for higher immigration to keep American wages down and the consumer market growing, and (2) liberal lobbies intent on increasing the voting power of various ethnic groups. Hesburgh’s conclusions have proved prescient. In the years since, Congress and successive administrations have repeatedly made decisions that caused annual immigration numbers to rise.

By the 1980s, annual immigration had more than doubled over traditional levels and was running above 500,000 a year. By the 1990s, annual average legal immigration had surpassed a million. And that didn’t even include a net addition of 200,000 to 500,000 illegal aliens each year. By the end of the 1990s, immigrants and their offspring were contributing nearly 70 percent of U.S. population growth.109

Environmental advocates of U.S. population stabilization had to confront this scorecard:

In a developed country like the United States, where mortality rates are low and where they change very slowly, the Population Size factor of the environmental Foundational Formula is influenced overwhelmingly by three sub-factors: (a) fertility of natives; (b) number of immigrants; (c) fertility of immigrants. A country is on the road to stabilization if all three of those are at a replacement-level rate.

In the United States at the end of the 1990s, government statistics reveal, these were the trends:

(a) Native-born Total Fertility Rate: On target for U.S. stabilization. The native-born rate has been well below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per woman since 1972 and has held steady at about 1.9. If the rate continues this low, native-born fertility will stop adding any population growth once the children of Baby Boom women have gone through their child-bearing years.110

(b) Immigrants: On target for driving U.S. population growth for centuries.111The number of immigrants is more than 400 percent above replacement level. (Replacement level is currently estimated to be about 225,000 immigrants a year — equal to the number of emigrants — which is just slightly below the traditional U.S. average for in-migration.)

(c) Immigrant Total Fertility Rate: Far above replacement level and on target to produce ever-larger additions to population growth. Although immigrants are now about 10 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 30 percent of the fertility-related population growth.112

If immigration and immigrant fertility had been at replacement level rates since 1972 — as has native-born fertility — the United States would never have grown above 250 million.113 Instead, U.S. population passed 273 million before the turn of the century. And the Census Bureau projects that current immigration and immigrant fertility are powerful enough to contribute to the United States surpassing 400 million soon after the year 2050 — on the way toward a billion or more Americans.

Most environmental groups by the late 1970s simply turned away from these kind of stark trends and didn’t address them. But a few remained true to the "full-Formula" environmentalism of the 1970-era. They responded directly to the new challenge — at least in their official statements.

The most aggressive was Zero Population Growth before it shifted away from being primarily an environmental organization. A 1977 Washington Post story revealed the public way ZPG confronted immigration.114 Under the headline, "Anti-Immigration Campaign Begun," the story began: "The Zero Population Growth foundation is launching a nationwide campaign to generate public support for sharp curbs on both legal and illegal immigration to the United States." It quoted Melanie Wirken, ZPG’s Washington lobbyist, saying the group favored a "drastic reduction in legal immigration" from levels which were then averaging about 400,000 a year. The article reported that ZPG was adding another lobbyist so that Wirken could devote all of her time to immigration issues.

The Sierra Club urged the federal government to conduct a thorough examination of U.S. immigration policies and their impact on U.S. population trends and how those trends affected the nation’s environmental resources. "All regions of the world must reach a balance between their populations and resources," the Club added.115 Then in 1980, the Sierra Club testified before Father Hesburgh’s Select Committee on Immigration and Refugee Reform: "It is obvious that the numbers of immigrants the United States accepts affects our population size and growth rate. It is perhaps less well known the extent to which immigration policy, even more than the number of children per family, is the determinant of future numbers of Americans." The Club said it is an "important question how many immigrants the United States wants to accept and the criteria we choose as the basis for answering that question." In 1989, the Sierra Club National Population Committee confirmed that, "immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S.," a policy confirmed by the Club’s Conservation Coordinating Committee.116

The immigration-reduction advocacy of the Sierra Club and ZPG beginning in the 1970s was affirmed in the Global 2000 Report to the President in 1981, which stated that the federal government should "develop a U.S. national population policy that includes attention to issues such as population stabilization, and...just, consistent, and workable immigration laws..."117 It was reaffirmed in the 1996 report of the Population and Consumption Task Force of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. The task force concluded: "This is a sensitive issue, but reducing immigration levels is a necessary part of population stabilization and the drive toward sustainability."118

But even as that governmental recognition was being announced in 1996, ZPG and the Sierra Club were in the final stage of abandoning immigration reduction and, as a practical result, U.S. population stabilization goals.

Over the previous ten years many of the old "full-Formula" environmentalists had gradually been ousted from many of the Sierra Club’s top leadership positions, with the effect of sharply diminishing the priority attached to U.S. population stabilization. It appears that the shift began to be noticeable as early as 1990. Congress that year held hearings about increasing the already doubled level of immigration, a move that led to the Census Bureau raising its projection of U.S. population in 2050 by nearly 100 million. Neither the Sierra Club nor any other large environmental group asked to testify about the environmental consequences of such a dramatic boost in population. After the hearings, however, some of the leaders on the national Sierra Club Population Committee did some personal lobbying against the immigration bill. But they were admonished by others in the Club’s national leadership that they were out of line, even though the official Sierra policy at the time supported their efforts.119

During the early 1990s, the Club considered adopting a more detailed, comprehensive policy on population (including immigration) and consumption. But internal wrangling between pro-stabilization population activists and the emerging "environmental justice" and "immigrants rights" factions led to stalemate.

In February, 1996, the Club’s National Board of Directors declared that no one speaking in the Club’s name at the national or local level could call any longer for immigration reduction to reach U.S. population stabilization; henceforth, the Club would "take no position on immigration levels or on policies governing immigration into the United States." In effect, the board had ceased the Club’s work for U.S. stabilization, which, at a practical level, is all but impossible given current immigration levels. For example, the only way to achieve immediate zero population growth without reducing immigration would be to cut the number of U.S. births in half.120 American women on average would have to do away with the two-child family of the last three decades and adapt to a one-child per family scenario — lower than any country in the world. In effect, Americans would be asked to sacrifice their own aspirations to "replace themselves" biologically in the next generation, simply to make way for more immigrants from rapidly-growing countries that had chosen not to make such a sacrifice. Given the patent unfairness of this scenario, and its certain political unpopularity, it is not surprising that not a single environmental or population group — especially those that avoided advocating immigration limits because of their controversy — was willing to seriously propose this as an alternative.

A group of long-time Sierra Club population activists forced a referendum vote by the national membership to return the Club to its full advocacy of population stabilization.121 To fight the referendum, the Club leadership chose as one of its major spokesmen in the referendum campaign the executive director of ZPG, former congressman Peter Kostmayer. Thus, the two organizations that had been the most outspoken for U.S. stabilization and immigration reduction in the 1970s and 1980s teamed up to defeat those same goals in 1998. The decision not to fully confront U.S. stabilization issues prevailed in a 60 percent-40 percent vote.122

Population, Immigration, and the Environment: Why Environmentalists Avoid the Connection

It may be that the greatest fear that corporations had of environmental groups was not the ostensible environmental regulations they advocated but a cutoff of U.S. population growth to fuel ever-expanding consumer markets, land development, and construction. In addition, those same forces had an intense self-interest in a growing labor pool to keep the cost of labor down.

One Californian observed that to remain so large, environmental groups "depend on huge transfers of money from foundations. These foundations have lots of connections with the national corporate community, which remains unconvinced that U.S. population stabilization is a good thing. Never-ending growth remains a goal of the national corporate community."223

For more than a quarter-century the total fertility rate of native-born Americans has been below the replacement level of 2.1. The inevitable demographic consequence of this reproductive behavior is a native population stock whose growth has been tapering off, and is well on the way to stabilization and even gradual shrinkage in the coming century — without infusions of foreign workers and their families. Organized business and corporate interests in the United States fear that a tighter labor supply and a "stagnant" number of consumers will choke off America’s miracle of perpetual economic growth and prosperity.

"As baby boomers age and domestic birthrates stagnate, only foreign-born workers will keep the labor pool growing....Economic dynamism, in other words, will depend on a continuing stream of foreign-born workers," opined an article in Business Week.224 At a "dull" meeting between the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a group of trade association executives in December 1997, "suddenly the room jumped to life" when Bruce Josten of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicted a severe labor shortage within the next decade. "...We’re going to have to bring in more people simply to maintain the economy’s growth rate. I’m talking about more legal immigrants at all skill levels," said Josten.225 The Chamber’s Vice President and Chief Economist echoed this view in a letter published under the headline "Immigrants Wanted" in The New York Times: "Rather than worrying about the welfare costs of our current rate of immigration, we should be concerned about the lost opportunity owing to the worker shortage of the future."226

The concern of some economists and business interests over an alleged emerging worker shortage is matched by the concern of many analysts, politicians, and rank-and-file Americans that early in the next century the Social Security system will be strained to the breaking point as too many retiring Baby Boomers burden too few workers. Dell Erickson and others have used the metaphor of a large lump of food passing through a snake to depict the pronounced, but temporary, demographic distortions caused by the Boomers.227 (As a population gradually stops growing, its age structure will indeed change, with the median age shifting upward for a time to a new, higher point.) This issue was addressed on the Sierra Club’s on-line Population Forum, with forum manager Nan Hildreth asking participants: "Someone mentioned that US population growth is good for the continued solvency of Social Security. Comments?"228 Dell Erickson commented that, "Over the years, the legislation to open a floodgate of immigration became an unseen and little known Congressional attempt to remedy the approaching funding dilemma by rapidly increasing numbers at the bottom of the worker pyramid."229 Demographer David Simcox also delivered a scathing critique of this rationale for increasing immigration: "Relying on Ponzi-like schemes to populate our way out of the dilemma through increased immigration and pronatalist incentives would be destructive and self-defeating. The consequence would be disruptive and environmentally devastating population growth, which would merely delay, not solve, the problem of too few workers supporting too many retirees."230 It should be obvious that reliance upon a pyramid scheme of an ever-expanding base of workers to keep our economy healthy and our retirees robust is an environmentally unsustainable strategy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t powerful forces pushing precisely for this.

Whatever the unspoken basis for its unwillingness to confront population growth, the Sierra Club national board found itself in the previously unheard-of position of being endorsed by the Home Builders Association of Northern California during the 1998 referendum campaign. The development group applauded the position of the Sierra Club board to accept the current immigration level, which is projected to force California’s home-needing population to 50 million by 2025. But the developers criticized the Sierra Club for helping prevent the use of urban and near-urban open spaces to build houses for the population growth brought about by immigration.231

Many foundations have a mix of directors that include politically left-leaning globalists and right-leaning representatives of multi-national corporations. As discussed earlier, for separate (even disparate) reasons, both types are strongly inclined toward high immigration levels. Historians will be able to quantify some of the ideological leanings of the foundations by looking at the modest level of funding for U.S. population stabilization efforts compared to the millions of dollars a year funneled to organizations working for policies that force massive U.S. population growth.

Of particular interest may be determining the role of foundations during the mid-1990s when Congress almost approved immigration reductions that would have started the United States on the path toward a stable population. That was a time when the American public was clamoring for immigration reductions; liberal labor advocates pressed for cuts that were endorsed by President Clinton; the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate immigration subcommittees presented bills to bring about the cuts recommended by former Democratic congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s bipartisan national commission. But the reductions did not occur. News accounts credit a massive mobilization and lobbying effort by corporate America for defeating all immigration cuts. Corporate, ethnic, and human rights leaders worked in a diverse coalition to begin undercutting the residual interest for making cuts in upcoming sessions of Congress.

Of special concern to growth advocates was the possibility that environmental groups might join forces with those desiring cuts for the sake of low-skill workers. Several Democratic pro-cut House floor leaders (most prominently Anthony Beilenson of California and John Bryant of Texas) had especially emphasized the need to slow U.S. population growth and relieve pressures on the environment. Around that time, certain foundations supported programs to bring human rights and environmental groups together to discuss population issues. To many observers, it appeared that foundations were pressing environmental groups (which they funded) to compromise with immigrant rights groups (which they also funded) by agreeing to step away from any advocacy for reductions in immigrant-driven U.S. population growth. Did those programs influence the decisions of ZPG and the Sierra Club to change their U.S. population stabilization policies and of groups like Audubon firming up their policies to refrain from discussing immigration issues?

Three well-endowed foundations — Pew, Turner, and Rockefeller — gave grants in support of a book whose very title, Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption, and the Environment232 — revealed a shift away from sheer numbers of people as the primary concern. And in November 1995 in Washington, D.C., the Pew Global Stewardship Initiative co-sponsored a one-day "Roundtable Discussion on Global Migration, Population, and the Environment." Pew’s partner in the event was the National Immigration Forum, the nation’s main coalition lobbying for continued high immigration. According to Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, who was present, this meeting was "clearly an attempt to keep environmental groups from going off the reservation and supporting immigration cuts then being debated in Congress."233

To whatever extent foundations and corporations did or did not attempt to neutralize environmental groups in their population policies, historians are likely to find that the policy changes also came as a result of the many other factors listed in this monograph.

Turning a Deaf Ear to Environmentalist Trailblazers and a Blind Eye to Demographic Projections

By the end of the 1990s, after three decades of spiraling immigration numbers, seemingly perpetual population growth, and defeat after political defeat, many long-suffering environmental and population activists despaired about ever reversing environmentalists’ paralysis on immigration: "After working on the ‘sustainable numbers’ problem for years, Judith Kunofsky is convinced that reducing immigration has become increasingly impossible politically — that we may have already reached the point where we can’t do anything about it," wrote behavioral scientist Diana Hull.234 This view holds that the snowball has already gathered so much momentum that trying to stop it is futile…and maybe even harmful to one’s own career prospects.

Perhaps nothing is more symbolic of the environmental establishment’s virtual abandonment of U.S. population stabilization than its complete disregard for the continuing population advocacy of two of its most venerated heroes — conservation trailblazers Gaylord Nelson and David Brower. Nelson, now a counselor to the Wilderness Society, is a former U.S. Senator, Wisconsin Governor, environmental leader in Congress, and the "father" of the first Earth Day back in 1970, an event he originally conceived as a "national celebration of the Earth." The late David Brower, who died in November 2000 at 88, was called "the archdruid" by nature writer John McPhee and an "uncompromising steward of the planet" upon his death.235 In his long and storied career as a crusader for the Earth, he was executive director of the Sierra Club, founder of the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, and the Earth Island Institute, champion and savior of national parks and wildlands, and an influence on countless environmental pioneers in their own right, such as biologist/ population polemicist Paul Ehrlich and alternative energy innovator Amory Lovins.

Even as environmental groups increasingly distanced themselves from the population issue, Nelson’s concern with U.S. overpopulation through the years never wavered, and his speeches around the country on environmental sustainability spotlighted the U.S. population problem.236 A newspaper article describing an Earth Day 1998 speech began: "Senator Gaylord Nelson spoke to a standing-room only audience at Beloit College’s Richardson Auditorium [in his home state of Wisconsin], advocating the U.S. limit immigration before U.S. resources are depleted."237 Later that year, in a Washington, D.C., press conference, Nelson bristled at the idea that what really motivates attempts to limit immigration is racism. He said that such accusations only served to silence a debate that was long overdue: "We ought to discuss it in a rational way. We have to decide if we’re going to be comfortable with half a billion people or more."238 In a March, 2000 speech to a civic group in Madison, Wis., Nelson warned that if immigration and fertility rates continued, the U.S. could become as overpopulated as China and India. "With twice the population, will there be any wilderness left? Any quiet place? Any habitat for song birds? Waterfalls? Other wild creatures? Not much," he said.239 When he saw an earlier version of the present monograph, Nelson wrote one of the co-authors that its thesis that U.S. population growth was no longer being addressed primarily because of immigration and fears of being labeled racist was "right on target."240

Yet not even the Father of Earth Day’s irreproachable reputation, peerless stature, and acute concern swayed the environmental establishment and its avant-garde VIP friends. In April 2000 in Washington, D.C.’s historic Mayflower Hotel, Nelson was honored with a standing ovation by the organizers of the 30th anniversary Earth Day celebration on the National Mall, an event that drew celebrities and performers like Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward James Olmos, Melanie Griffith, Clint Black, Carole King, Chevy Chase, James Taylor and David Crosby. One of the co-authors attended the celebration on the Mall, with the Capitol dome looming behind, and listened to numerous speeches and exhortations, none of which mentioned overpopulation. Gaylord Nelson is revered by mainstream environmentalists because of his seminal contributions to the movement and in spite of his position on population and immigration, not because of it.

David Brower first became concerned about population growth decades ago, in part under the "coaching" of his friend and Berkeley neighbor, scientist Daniel Luten.241 In 1997, Brower was one of the original signatories of the Sierra Club ballot measure in favor of reducing immigration to stop U.S. population growth. He later withdrew his name, because as a member of the Sierra Club board of directors at the time, it conflicted with the board’s official position. However, he never endorsed Ballot Question B, put forth by the board in explicit opposition to Ballot Question A, the immigration-reduction measure. And immediately after the vote, he spoke out against the board’s position. "The leadership are fooling themselves. Overpopulation is a very serious problem, and overimmigration is a big part of it. We must address both. We can’t ignore either," he told Outside magazine.242 In a dramatic gesture reflecting the depth of his disenchantment from the board of the organization to which he had dedicated so much of his life, David Brower resigned from the Sierra Club board of directors in May, 2000. "The world is burning and all I hear from them is the music of violins," he said. Brower added, "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us and immigration is part of that problem. It has to be addressed."243

Not only did the environmental establishment turn a deaf ear to the consistent pro-stabilization messages of its own legendary pioneers, but it also turned a blind eye to the January, 2000 demographic projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, the most ominous in decades.244 The Bureau’s "middle series" projection foresees a population of 404 million by 2050 (more than125 million larger than the current U.S. population) and 571 million by 2100, more than double the number of Americans today. And under this scenario, which, incredibly, assumes lower net immigration in 2100 than at present, the U.S. population would still be adding more people annually in 2100 than now. And what was the reaction of the environmental establishment to these alarming projections? No comment. The silence was deafening. It was as if the environmental significance of this staggering population growth were as trivial as fall fashions from Paris.

Since the unpleasantness and divisiveness of its 1998 referendum, the Sierra Club leadership has moved to suppress further debate over immigration and its implications for U.S. population growth. Its population list-serve on the Internet, an open forum for discussion, was closed down over one allegedly racist post. While many of the open-borders advocates on the Population Committee dropped off after their victory in the 1998 referendum, the revamped committee has shown no inclination to take up the issue of U.S. population policy. A filmmaker who interviewed scores of nationally-prominent figures on immigration, population, and the environment for a forthcoming documentary on how immigration is re-defining tomorrow’s America was unable to get the Sierra Club to talk to him on film.

Historians need to explain how an environmental issue as fundamental as U.S. population growth could have moved from center-stage within the American environmental movement to virtual obscurity in just 20 years. For the American environment itself, the ever-growing demographic pressures ignored by the environmental establishment showed no signs of abating on their own as the nation prepared to enter the 21st century.

Yet a ray of hope remains. "If the people lead, the leaders will follow" says an aphorism. The growing grassroots concern of numerous rank-and-file environmentalists and ordinary Americans with the multiple problems unavoidably aggravated by overpopulation and overimmigration may yet overturn their leaders’ stubborn denial of demographic and ecological realities. The hard work of Colorado activist Mike McGarry paid off in 1999 when the Aspen city council passed a resolution in favor of an immigration moratorium in order to achieve U.S. population stabilization. Since 1999, Craig Nelsen and his ProjectUSA have erected nearly 100 billboards in more than 10 states pointing out that immigration will double U.S. population within the lifetimes of today’s children. Nelsen and his allies have persevered in the face of strident denunciations and efforts to suppress their free speech (with no thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, which was approached and turned down an appeal for assistance after New York City officials forced the removal of one of the first billboards).

In the face of unremitting hostility, demagoguery, and dirty tricks on the part of the Sierra Club bureaucracy, Sierrans who refused to accept their leaders’ acquiescence to rapid, unending U.S. population growth attained a respectable 40 percent showing. Since then, the indefatigable activists of Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS) have continued organizing and strategizing over the best means of forcing the Club to face up to an issue it would rather ignore, perhaps by means of the Club’s anti-sprawl campaign, which has assiduously avoided mentioning not only immigration but also population growth as a cause of sprawl.

Those truly concerned about the future environment and quality of life in these United States can only hope that endeavors such as these may yet portend a return to a realistic, comprehensive population policy within the mainstream environmental movement.


End Notes

1 This monograph is a significantly expanded version of the authors’ article "The Environmental Movement’s Retreat from Advocating U.S. Population Stabilization (1970-1998): A First Draft of History," which appeared in a winter 2000 special issue of the Journal of Policy History, Vol. 12, No. 1, dedicated to environmental politics and policy from the 1960s to the 1990s (Pennsylvania State University Press).

2 "Global Future: Time to Act." 1981. In The Global 2000 Report to the President. A report prepared by the Council on Environmental Quality and Department of State. Gerald O. Barney, study director. p. 11.

3 President’s Council on Sustainable Development. 1996. Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 12. The Council included representatives from a wide range of backgrounds, including environmentalists, population activists, women’s groups, minorities, business leaders, and Cabinet officials. Quote from p. 21.

4 Paul R. Ehrlich and John P. Holdren. 1971. "Impact of Population Growth." Science, 171, 1212-1217.

5 Population and Consumption Task Force Report. 1996. President’s Council on Sustainable Development. p. 1.

6 David F. Durham. 1992. "Perspectives: Cultural Carrying Capacity: I=PACT." Focus, Vol. 2, No. 3. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network.

7 Like any model of highly complex ecological systems, the Foundational Formula is a simplification of actual causal relationships. Its utility lies in helping us conceptualize and predict (or approximate) causes and effects. One of its key assumptions is that individual impact and population size are independent variables. In reality, however, in certain situations they may be dependent or inter-dependent variables. That is, as population size or density grow, this may exert upward or downward pressure on individual impact via intricate feedback loops.

8 Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees. 1996. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact Upon the Earth. Philadelphia: New Society.

9 The concept of ghost acreage or "phantom land" is attributed to sociologist William R. Catton, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980). It refers to the fact that the stocks of fossil fuels being consumed today are the products of ancient photosynthesis ("congealed solar energy") that took place in long-gone forests and swamps hundreds of millions of years ago.

10 John P. Holdren. 1991. "Population and the Energy Problem." Population and Environment, Vol. 12, No. 3.

11 Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers. 1992. Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green. pp. 181-182.

12 This exercise isn’t entirely academic. Geologist Robert McConnell has calculated that the human "carrying capacity" of the Chesapeake Bay watershed — the number of people it could sustain in perpetuity and still provide a standard of water quality conducive both to human use and healthy populations of fish, shellfish, and submerged aquatic vegetation, given available, affordable water pollution control technologies — had already been exceeded by 1950. "The Human Population Carrying Capacity of Chesapeake Bay: A Preliminary Analysis." Population and Environment, Vol. 16, No. 4, 1995.

13 Council on Environmental Quality. 1997. Environmental Quality: 25th Anniversary Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

14 Ibid.

15 Steward L. Udall. 1963, 1988. The Quiet Crisis and the Next Generation. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books. p. 239.

16 Paul R. Ehrlich. 1968. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books; Rachel L. Carson. 1962. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

17 Stephen Fox. 1981. John Muir and His Legacy: The American Conservation Movement, 1890-1975. Boston: Little, Brown. p. 307.

18 Ibid. p. 307.

19 Garrett Hardin. 1968. "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science, 162. December 13. Hardin communicated to one of the authors in 1993 that Science informed him that they had received more reprint permission requests for his paper than any other in the journal’s history.

20 Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, William W. Behrens III. 1972. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Signet.

21 Edward Goldsmith, Robert Allen, Michael Allaby, John Davoll, Same Lawrence (eds.). 1972. A Blueprint for Survival. Penguin Books. p. 48.

22 Gaylord Nelson. 1998. Personal communication. Former U.S. Senator and Wisconsin Governor Nelson is widely credited as the founder of Earth Day.

23 Among the more prominent were the National Environmental Policy Act (1970), Clean Air Act (1970), Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972), Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1972), Clean Water Act (1972; amended in 1974 and 1977), Coastal Zone Management Act (1972), Endangered Species Act (1973), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), and Safe Drinking Water Act.

24 Doug LaFollette, et. al. U.S. Sustainable Population Policy Project (USS3P) — Planning Document. Unpublished. June 20, 1998. Doug LaFollette is Wisconsin Secretary of State. Document available from Carole Wilmoth, Executive Committee USS3P, 71634.217@compuserve.com or http://www.iti.com/iti/uss3p.

25 Quote from the frontspiece of the 1972 Rockefeller Commission Report Population and the American Future (note 29).

26 PL 91-190; 83 Stat. 852, 42 U.S.C. 4321.

27 R. B. Smythe. 1997. "The Historical Roots of NEPA." At p. 12 in Ray Clark and Larry Canter (eds.) Environmental Policy and NEPA: Past, Present, and Future. Boca Raton: St. Lucie Press.

28 42 U.S.C. 4331.

29 Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. 1972. Population and the American Future. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Excerpt above from transmittal letter.

30 Sierra Club Board of Directors policy adopted May 3-4, 1969. 

31 Roy Beck’s notes from participation in conference. On the subject of space and land requirements, Cornell University ecologists David and Marcia Pimentel (two of the world’s leading authorities on the environmental dimensions of agriculture) have estimated that each person added to the U.S. population leads to the loss (i.e. "development" or conversion) of about one acre of agricultural land, open space or natural habitat (David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel. 1997. "U.S. Food Production Threatened By Rapid Population Growth." Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network).

32 National Public Radio, "Morning Edition," May 4, 1999. In this 5-minute report, ironically, the only mention of population growth as a force driving sprawl and traffic congestion came from the spokesman of a coalition advocating greater public funding for more highway projects to expand capacity; Terry M. Neal. 1999. "Gore Seeks to Tap Voter Concern on ‘Livability’ Issues." The Washington Post. May 5.

33 Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. 1999. "Never Far From the Madding Crowd: Japanese Have Most Things in Life — Except Space." The Washington Post. July 29. p. A1, A26.

34 T. Michael Maher. 1997. "How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection." Population and Environment, Vol. 18, No. 4.

35 T. Michael Maher. 1998. Personal communication with Roy Beck via e-mail.

36 National Association of Home Builders. 1999. "Sierra Club Report Ignores Underlying Forces Behind Urban Growth." Press release distributed by PR Newswire. October 4.

37 National Audubon Society, Population & Habitat Campaign. 1998. "Population and Migration."

38 The Wilderness Society had a comprehensive population policy which stated that: "As a priority, population policy should protect and sustain ecological systems for future generations....To bring population levels to sustainable levels, both birth rates and immigration rates need to be reduced." And the Izaak Walton League (a society of anglers founded in 1922 to conserve fish and their aquatic habitat) stated that "current levels of natural resource consumption and population are not sustainable." It urged government actions that would help stabilize U.S. population, with the understanding that "international migration must be addressed as part of a comprehensive strategy to manage U.S. population size."

39 Resolution sponsored and circulated by ZPG; adopted by the Sierra Club on June 4, 1970.

40 Dell Erickson, a 1998 candidate for the Sierra board of directors, in a lengthy 1999 e-mail to the authors, offers numerous details of the sometimes questionable lengths to which the Sierra board and leadership went to defeat what became known as Ballot Question "A". Other participants corroborate his evidence and conclusions. See Brenda Walker. 1999. "Why the Sierra Club Chickened Out on Population." Focus, Vol. 9, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network. See also Ben Zuckerman. 1999. "The Sierra Club Immigration Debate: National Implications. " Population and Environment, Vol. 20, No. 5, May. Zuckerman, a Club board candidate from the Angeles chapter, who was also on the front lines of the Club’s nasty immigration skirmishes, accused the Sierra Club’s leadership of "dirty tricks and demagoguery" in a "win at any cost" campaign that included blatant violations of Club bylaws, obfuscation, suppression of debate, and race baiting. 

41 Dirk Olin. 1998. "Divided We Fall? The Sierra Club’s debate over immigration may be just the beginning." Outside, Vol. 23, No. 7, July. 

42 In 1970, the "black and other" Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 3.0 (National Center for Health Statistics. 1976. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970). By 1997, black fertility had fallen to 2.2, slightly above the general population’s replacement rate of 2.1. Overall Hispanic fertility even in 1997 stood at 3.0, well above replacement level; that of Mexican-born women was 3.3 — actually higher than that of women in Mexico itself (National Center for Health Statistics. 1999. National Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 47, No. 18.

43 Supra, note 29. pp. 72-73. Testimony of Rev. Jesse Jackson in hearings before the Commission, Chicago, Illinois, June 21-22, 1971.

44 Supra, note 29. p. 72. Testimony of Dr. Eugene Callender in hearings before the Commission, New York City, September 27-28, 1971.

45 Supra, note 29. Testimony of Manuel Aragon in hearings before the Commission, Los Angeles, May 3-4, 1971.

46 According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the TFR of non-Hispanic white females was 1.8 in 1997 (compared to 2.1 for replacement level). Using Census Bureau data, it can be calculated that in 1970, non-Hispanic whites comprised 83 percent of the U.S. population and accounted for approximately 78 percent of the births. By 1994, non-Hispanic whites comprised 74 percent of the population and accounted for 60 percent of the births. With immigration included (approximately 90 percent of which originates from non-European sources), the non-Hispanic white share of current population growth drops well below 50 percent. According to medium projections of the Census Bureau and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, non-Hispanic whites will account for 6 percent of the nation’s population growth between 1995 and 2050, blacks for 18 percent, Asians for 20 percent, and Hispanics for 54 percent (James P. Smith and Barry Edmonston, eds. 1997. The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Table 3.7). By 2050, Non-Hispanic whites are projected to have declined to 51 percent of the U.S. population from 87 percent in 1950 (Table 3.10, The New Americans).

47 William G. Hollingsworth. 1996. Ending the Explosion: Population Policies and Ethics for a Humane Future. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks Press. p. 31.

48 James Scheuer. 1992. "A Disappointing Outcome: United States and World Population Trends Since the Rockefeller Commission." The Social Contract. Vol. 2, No. 4. Congressman Scheuer (D-NY) was a member of the 1972 Commission on Population Growth and the American Future and at the time this article was written, was Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environment as well as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Education and Health.

49 "The Vatican and World Population Policy: An Interview with Milton P. Siegel." The Humanist. March/April 1993.

50 David Simcox. 1992. "Twenty Years Later: A Lost Opportunity." The Social Contract, Vol. 2, No. 4.

51 Stephen D. Mumford. 1996. The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy. Research Triangle Park: Center for Research on Population and Security.

52 Joyce Arthur. 1999. "Mortal Sins of the Vatican." Pro-Choice Press (Vancouver, Canada) Summer 1999.

53 Carl Bernstein. 1992. "Holy Alliance: How Reagan and the Pope conspired to assist Poland’s Solidarity movement and hasten the demise of Communism." Time, February 24. A section of the article was called "The U.S. and the Vatican on Birth Control."

54 Supra, note 48.

55 Ester Boserup. 1965. The Conditions of Agricultural Growth. London: Allen & Unwin, and 1981. Population and Technology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

56 Julian Simon. 1981. The Ultimate Resource. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, and 1986. Theory of Population and Economic Growth. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

57 Julian Simon. 1995. "The State of Humanity — Steadily Improving." Cato Policy Report, Vol. 17, No. 5, October. Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute.

58 Roy Beck. 1992. "Religions and the Environment: Commitment High Until U.S. Population Issues Raised." The Social Contract. Vol 3, No. 2.Winter 1992-93

59 Anon. The Washington Times. 1994. June 11; Anon. The New York Times. June 16. Cited in Lindsey Grant. 1994. "The Cairo Conference: Feminists vs. the Pope." NPG Forum Series. July

60 George D. Moffett. 1994. Critical Masses: The Global Population Challenge. New York: Viking. p. 190.

61 George Weigel. 1995. "What Really Happened at Cairo, and Why." In Michael Cromartie (ed.) The 9 Lives of Population Control. Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center.

62 Lindsey Grant. 1994. "The Cairo Conference: Feminists vs. the Pope." NPG Forum Series (Washington, D.C.: Negative Population Growth).

63 Meredith Burke. 1998. E-mail to Roy Beck. December 9. Meredith Burke is an international demographic consultant and past coordinator of Management Information, Family Planning International Assistance.

64 Lindsey Grant. 1997. "Multiple Agendas and the Population Taboo." Focus, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network); reprinted from Chapter 16 of Juggernaut: Growth on a Finite Planet. Santa Ana, Calif.: Seven Locks Press. 1996.

65 Martha Madison Campbell. 1998. "Schools of Thought: An Analysis of Interest Groups Influential in International Population Policy" Population and Environment. Vol. 19, No. 6.

66 Supra, note 60.

67 Lester Thurow. 1993. Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America. William Morrow & Co.

68 Paul Harrison. The Third Revolution: Population, Environment, and a Sustainable World. 1992, 1993. London and New York: Penguin.

69 Virginia D. Abernethy. 1993. Population Politics: The Choices that Shape Our Future. New York: Plenum.

70 The shift within the population movement from an emphasis on "limits to growth" toward "personal liberty" has even shaped the choice of language used by activists in the 1990s. In the 1960s and 1970s, those concerned about overpopulation typically referred to the remedy of "population control," in much the same way the terms "birth control" or "pollution control" were used. By the 1990s, this term had been largely phased out in favor of "population stabilization," which is somewhat more precise but, more significantly, also lacks the implication of coercion implicit in "control."

71 Supra, note 62.

72 The Population Institute points out that according to the U.N. Population Fund’s 1998 State of the World Population report, actual family planning assistance has remained well below even these promised amounts, reaching barely at $2 billion in 1997 and 1998 (Population Institute. 1998. "1998 World Population Overview and Outlook 1999." Released December 30, 1998. Washington, D.C.: Population Institute).

73 Barbara Crossette. 1994. "Vatican Drops Fight Against U.N. Population Document." The New York Times, September 10.

74 Interview conducted in early 1999 by Leon Kolankiewicz with two NWF senior staffers.

75 United Nations Foundation. Undated. "Women & Population: Challenge for the 21st Century." Downloaded May, 1999 from Internet at http://www.unfoundation.org/issues/women/challenge_wp.cfm.

76 Population Institute. 1998. "1998 World Population Overview and Outlook 1999." Released December 30, 1998. Downloaded from Internet at http://www.populationinstitute.org/overview98.html.

77 Supra, note 69.

78 Supra, note 64.

79 Supra, note 75.

80 Judy Kunofsky. 1997. Post to on-line Sierra Club population forum. Dr. Kunofsky was on the ZPG Board of Directors from 1972-84 and was president from 1977-80.

81 Ibid.

82 Celia Evans Miller and Cynthia P. Green. 1976. "A U.S. Population Policy: ZPG’s Recommendations." Zero Population Growth policy paper.

83 Mike Hanauer. 1998. E-mail to Roy Beck. In addition to having served on the ZPG board, Hanauer is past chair of ZPG of Greater Boston and co-chair of the New England Coalition for Sustainable Population.

84 Alan Kuper. 1999. "ZPG or ZCG?" E-mail to list. April 10. Kuper, a long-time Sierra member and one of the population activists who spearheaded the 1998 referendum, pointed out that 7 out of 10 questions on ZPG’s 1999 Earth Day quiz related to consumption. "Based on what I have, I’d say ZPG is promoting in classrooms across the US, reduction in consumption more than reduction in numbers."

85 Judith Jacobsen. 1998. President’s message. ZPG Reporter, February.

86 Judy Kunofsky. 1998. Post to on-line Sierra Club population forum. October 15; Joyce Tarnow. 1998. E-mail to Roy Beck, December 8. Tarnow started the Miami chapter of ZPG in 1970, served on the national board from 1972-74, and is now president of Floridians for a Sustainable Population. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Colorado, wrote on January 10, 1999: "Zero Population Growth no longer advocates zero population growth? They now advocate ‘slow population growth and sustainability.’ These two concepts are totally in conflict with one another….I was on the board of citizen advisors of ZPG for a decade or two, and I knew nothing about this change until I happened to notice it in reading the ZPG paper. It is not known if the Board of Directors consulted with anyone before they made this major and contradictory change in their mission statement."

87 Joyce Tarnow. 1997. April 22 letter to Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, president, and ZPG board.

88 Joyce Tarnow. 1997. November 25 letter to Dr. Judith Jacobsen, ZPG president.

89 Judith E. Jacobsen. 1997. December 8 letter to Joyce Tarnow.

90 Samuel P. Hays. 1959, 1969. Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920. Harvard University Press/Atheneum.

91 Roderick Nash. 1967. Wilderness and the American Mind. Revised edition, 1973. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

92 Gifford Pinchot. 1947. Breaking New Ground. New York: Harcourt, Brace. p. 320. In Douglas H. Strong. 1971, 1988. Dreamers and Defenders American Conservationists. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. p. 83.

93 First published in 1949, and since reprinted many times, A Sand County Almanac has been called the finest nature writing since Thoreau. "The Land Ethic" is the most famous of this collection of essays.

94 Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist and author of widely read books on ecological themes, including Under the Sea Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951) — for which she was awarded the 1952 National Book Award in nonfiction — and The Edge of the Sea (1955). Her prose was praised for its beauty as well as its scientific accuracy. She taught zoology at the University of Maryland from 1931 to 1936. She was also an aquatic biologist at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and its successor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, from 1936 to 1952.

95 Mark Dowie. 1995. Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 127.

96 This incident occurred to Leon Kolankiewicz in 1990 with a staff person from the Southwest Information Center.

97 Barry Commoner. 1971. The Closing Circle. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

98 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels both lambasted Malthusian theory. Yet once Marxists or Communists actually assume political power in a given country they sometimes have been among the most zealous in pushing population control, as evidenced most clearly in the People’s Republic of China. At the 1996 U.N. Food Conference in Rome, Cuban president Fidel Castro chided the Vatican on population and argued the necessity of stopping population growth if the world was ever to solve the food problem. As ecological economist Herman E. Daly notes in his essay "Marx and Malthus in Northeast Brazil": "The leftists want a growing proletariat to fight for the revolution..." (Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, 1996, Boston: Beacon Press). Once in power, however, they apparently come to see the infeasibility of providing for ever-growing numbers, and they change their tune radically. The conservative Islamic clerics governing Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 seem to have undergone a similar shift, from railing against birth control and family planning to actively promoting it as the social and economic burdens of a rapidly growing population became ever more evident.

99 Alexander Cockburn. 1997. "Column Left." Los Angeles Times. October 2.

100 Tom Kizzia. 1999. "Give Us This Chance; Part 2: As German Jews eagerly await immigration word, U.S. government officials are split on plan to bring new settlers to Alaska." Anchorage Daily News. May 17.

101 James R. Hepworth and Gregory McNamee. 1996. Resist Much Obey Little: Remembering Ed Abbey. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. In John Rohe. 1997. A Bicentennial Malthusian Essay. Traverse City, Michigan: Rhodes & Easton. p. 104.

102 Dave Foreman. 1998. "Progressive Cornucopianism." Wild Earth, Vol. 7, No. 4.

103 George Sessions. 1995. "Postmodernism, Environmental Justice, and the Demise of the Ecology Movement?" Wild Duck Review. No. 5, June/July; George Sessions. 1995. "Political Correctness, Ecological Realities, and the Future of the Ecology Movement." Wild Duck Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Sept. By way of example, Sessions quotes a book review by Erik Davis in the Village Voice Literary Supplement (February, 1995): "When postmodernists hear Nature, they reach for their revolvers. [Much of] this is motivated in part by the threat hardcore [radical] ecology poses to postmodernism’s most visibly progressive rhetoric: the politics of diversity."

104 A 1998 fundraising letter from PEG claimed that "Sierra grassroots leaders told us that ‘The Sierra Club would not have won this vote without PEG,’" an assessment that PEG’s adversaries would probably agree is not far off the mark.

105 Brad Erickson. 1998. Personal interview. May.

106 Supra, note 95, pp. 160-166.

107 U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1997. Statistical Abstract of the United States.

108 Select Commission on Immigration Policy and the National Interest. 1981. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

109 Steven A. Camarota. 1999. "Immigrants in the United States — 1998: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-born Population." Backgrounder. Washington, D.C.: Center for Immigration Studies.

110 Lindsey Grant and Leon Bouvier. 1992. How Many Americans?: Population, Immigration and the Environment. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

111 Ibid.

112 Ed Lytwak. 1999. "A Tale of Two Futures: Changing Shares of U.S. Population Growth." NPG Forum. March. The National Vital Statistics System in the document "Births: Final Data for 1997," Vol. 47, No. 18, April 29, 1999, lists the U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) for all races in 1997 at 2.03, almost at replacement level. By comparison, the TFR for women of Hispanic origin was 2.99, and those of Mexican origin 3.31, respectively 42 percent and 58 percent above replacement level. According to the Census Bureau ("The Foreign-Born Population: 1996," CPS P20-494), about half (49.6 percent) of all U.S. foreign born came from Mexico (27.2 percent), Central America (7 percent), the Caribbean (10.5 percent), and South America (4.9 percent).

113 Poster Project for a Sustainable U.S. Environment. 1998. Based on Census Bureau data.

114 Susan Jacoby. 1977. "Anti-Immigration Campaign Begun." The Washington Post. May 8.

115 Sierra Club Board of Directors. 1978. "U.S. Population Policy and Immigration." Adopted May 6-7.

116 Sierra Club Population Report. Spring, 1989.

117 Supra, note 2. p. 11.

118 President’s Council on Sustainable Development. 1996. Population and Consumption Task Force Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Executive Summary, p. iv.

119 Memos to the authors from Population Committee members.

120 Albert A. Bartlett and Edward P. Lytwak. 1995. "Zero Growth of the Population of the United States." Population and Environment, Vol. 16, No. 5, May.

121 "Population and the Sierra Club: A Discussion of Issues About the Upcoming Referendum." January, 1998. 8 pp. discussion paper authored by Alan Kuper, Dick Schneider, and Ben Zuckerman of Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS).

122 John H. Cushman, Jr. 1998. "Sierra Club Rejects Move to Oppose Immigration." The New York Times, April 26; Marvin Baker (Acting Chief Inspector of Election for the Inspectors). "Sierra Club 1998 Election for Board of Directors and Ballot Questions." (As posted on the website of Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization, April 24, 1998, at http://www.sni.net/ecofuture/susps/info/votes_980425.html). 

123 Rhonda Bodfield. 1998. "Sierra Club Split: Factions in Environmental Group at Odds Over Immigration Limits." The Arizona Daily Star. April 12.

124 Supra, note 112. Lytwak calculates that immigration accounted for 1 percent of U.S. population growth in 1950, 5 percent in 1960, 13 percent in 1970, 38 percent in 1980, 58 percent in 1990, and 61 percent in 1996.

125 Roy Beck. 1996. The Case Against Immigration. New York and London: W.W. Norton.

126 Supra, note 114.

127 This incident occurred to Leon Kolankiewicz and Richard Koris in front of the executive committee of the Great Falls Group of the Old Dominion Chapter of the Club, and was reported in the Washington Post article (cited below) by William Branigin on March 7.

128 E-mail to the authors from Ben Zuckerman, May 26, 1999.

129 William Branigin. 1998. "Immigration Policy Dispute Rocks Sierra Club." The Washington Post. March 7.

130 U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. 1994. U.S. Immigration Policy: Restoring Credibility. Quote from Executive Summary. Barbara Jordan also delivered these remarks in testimony before a congressional hearing.

131 The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (or Jordan Commission) issued a number of reports from 1994-98. They are on line at http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/.

132 James P. Smith and Barry Edmonston (eds.). 1997. The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. Panel on the Demographic and Economic Impacts of Immigration, Committee on Population and Committee on National Statistics, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

133 Emil Guillermo. 1997. "The Sierra Club’s Nativist Faction." San Francisco Examiner. December 17.

134 Robert Reich. 1991. The Work of Nations: A Blueprint for the Future. New York and London: Simon & Schuster.

135 Katherine Betts. 1999. The Great Divide: Immigration Politics in Australia. Sydney: Duffy & Snellgrove. Quotes from p. 5 and p. 29, respectively.

136 Supra, note 95.

137 George Sessions. 1998. "Will the Real Sierra Club Please Stand Up?" Focus, Vol. 8, No. 1. Washington, D.C: Carrying Capacity Network.

138 Supra, note 95.

139 Fred Elbel. 1999. E-mail to authors. May 14.

140 This incident was personally observed by Leon Kolankiewicz in 1989.

141 Frank Clifford. 1998. "Immigration Vote Divides Sierra Club." Los Angeles Times, March 16.

142 Al Martinez. 1997. "Listen to the Wind..." Los Angeles Times. October 7.

143 Carl Pope. 1997. On-line post to Sierra members.

144 Sierra Club population activist Fred Elbel points out that at the Sierra Club as well as other organizations, "everything is now seen through the filter of ‘political correctness.’ It is not politically correct to address population stabilization and immigration reduction in any form if it means harming the interests of immigrant minorities" (written correspondence to authors, May 14, 1999).

145 Al Knight. 1998. "It’s Not Easy Being Green: Sierra Club Faces New Identity Crisis." Denver Post. February 15.

146 Three of the initiative’s most famous original supporters — David Brower, Paul Ehrlich, and Anne Ehrlich — all dropped their public support in late 1997, before their names were printed on the official ballots. Brower and Anne Ehrlich were board members, and might well have felt pressured by the rest of the board to toe the "party line." Paul Ehrlich presumably dropped off in support of his wife, with whom he works very closely. (In Ehrlich’s case, the record over the years indicates considerable ambiguity and ambivalence on the subject of an environmentally-appropriate stance toward immigration levels.)

147 Supra, note 85.

148 Personal communication from individual present at the conference. 1999.

149 Georgia C. DuBose. 1998. "ZPG official says law, local action can cut population." The Journal (Martinsburg, W.Va.). March 29.

150 Peter Kostmayer. 1998. Letter to ZPG member. March 30.

151 Dr. Kendall subsequently indicated to Leon Kolankiewicz that his name could be used privately — and that he as a private individual strongly supported the measure — but that his name could not be placed on any publicly distributed lists because of the strong linkage in the public’s mind between him and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Ironically, a certain senior UCS staff member did publicly support the opposition. When Kolankiewicz asked Kendall if this wasn’t an inconsistency, Kendall replied that it was this staffer’s prerogative to do as he pleased, and that UCS executive director Howard Ris’ admonition specifically referred to Kendall himself and to siding with the pro-reduction Sierra Clubbers. Once again, it was apparently seen as riskier to explicitly endorse immigration reduction rather than to endorse ostensible "neutrality" (a neutrality that was an implicit endorsement of the high-immigration status quo).

152 Documented in private e-mails of members of Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization 1998. Werbach was widely known to be extremely hostile to the immigration reduction measure, which in a July, 1998 Outside magazine article he was quoted as saying was "horrendous." The same article, and other sources, recounted his pledge to have resigned from office if the measure were to have passed.

153 Watson case documented in January, 1998 e-mail by Ben Zuckerman. According to notes taken by Zuckerman referencing a conversation with Watson immediately after this incident, Werbach was enraged that Watson would sign such a "racist" measure. Brown case documented in personal communication to Leon Kolankiewicz, 1998. After SUSPS members learned that Werbach was himself phoning SUSPS signatories in an effort to dislodge them from the list of supporters, Kolankiewicz was requested to make contact with Brown to ensure that he was still "on board." Brown informed Kolankiewicz that he had already been phoned by Werbach, but had declined to withdraw his name in response to Werbach’s direct request.

154 Supra, note 118; Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, president of ZPG was the task force co-chair; other members included Michele Perrault, then International Vice President of the Sierra Club (as well as a former president and later, a board member), John Adams, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Fred Krupp, executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund. The task force was assisted by Judith Jacobsen, who later became president of ZPG. Of interest is the fact that Perrault’s Sierra affiliation was not listed in the task force report, reportedly because the Club had just adopted its "neutrality" stance, and would not associate its name with any document advocating reduced immigration.

155 A prime example of this global view is Al Gore’s 1992 book Earth in the Balance (1992, Houghton Mifflin). In 1998 Vice-President Gore again explicitly linked population growth to global issues when he touted increased family planning support as one means of combating global warming. The Washington-based non-profit Population Action International (formerly the Population Crisis Committee) also released a report in 1998 linking global climate and population futures (Robert Engelman. 1998. Profiles in Carbon: An Update on Population, Consumption and Carbon Dioxide Emissions. Washington, D.C.: Population Action International).

156 Garrett Hardin. 1999. The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia. New York: Oxford University Press.

157 Carl Pope. 1997. Post to on-line Sierra Club population forum. December 16.

158Network Bulletin. 1998. Vol. 8, No. 2. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network; Tom Turner. 1991. Sierra Club: 100 Years of Protecting Nature. New York: Harry N. Abrams. The Sierra Club also published a book entitled This Is The American Earth with text by Nancy Newhall and photos by Ansel Adams in 1960.

159 Jason DinAlt. 1994. "The Environmental Impact of Immigration Into the United States." Focus, Vol. 4, No. 2. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network.

160 Supra, note 8.

161 World Resources Institute. 1996. World Resources, 1996-97. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

162 Ibid.

163 Geoffrey Bernard. 1998. Colorado Plateau Advocate. Winter.

164 Brock Evans. 1998. "The Sierra Club Ballot Referendum on Immigration, Population and the Environment." Focus, Vol. 8, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network. Evans is the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition, and a former Vice-President for National Issues of the National Audubon Society, Associate Executive Director of the Sierra Club, 1981 recipient of the Club’s highest honor (the John Muir Award), and 1984 candidate for Congress from the state of Washington.

165 Carl Pope. 1998. "Think Globally, Act Sensibly – Immigration is not the problem." Asian Week (San Francisco, CA). April 2. Pope used the same comparison in a February 25, 1998 debate on (Santa Monica, California-based) NPR affiliate KCRW’s (Santa Monica, California) program "Which Way L.A.?" and on other occasions. The irony of using the Titanic analogy to represent overpopulation and immigration is that if the RMS Titanic’s bulkheads had been sealed and reached all the way up (a standard feature in ships nowadays) instead of just part-way, the ship might have been saved from sinking because inrushing ocean water would have been confined to several compartments instead of spilling over the top of each bulkhead into subsequent ones. (The Titanic could flood four compartments and still float. It breached five.) Thus, another conclusion that can be drawn from this maritime tragedy is that barriers between distinct nation-states may well be essential to preventing one country’s failure to address overpopulation from becoming the whole world’s failure. Economist and philosopher Kenneth Boulding (author of "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth"), in another of his insightful essays, wrote that what really disturbed him was the possibility of converting the world from a place of many experiments into one giant, global experiment where failure somewhere would become failure everywhere.

166 Ben Zuckerman. 1999. E-mail to the authors, May 26.

167 Carl Pope. 1999. "Corporate Crime: The consequences of letting polluters police themselves." Sierra, July/August.

168 From "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth; Program 1: The Hero’s Adventure." 1988. Mystic Fire Viceo, Inc./Parabola Magazine.

169 See, for example: Jonathan Schell. 1982. The Fate of the Earth (New York: Knopf) as well as many articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

170 Michael Hanauer. 1999. "Why Domestic Environmental Organizations Won’t Visibly Advocate Domestic Population Stabilization." Draft unpublished manuscript.

171 Article 13 states: "1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country." Article 14 reads in part: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available on the Internet website of the Geneva-based United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm.

172 One of them, Cathi Tactaquin, was the Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Another, Santos Gomez, was a board member of the Political Ecology Group, which vigorously attacked any and all organizations promoting U.S. population stabilization as "hate" groups. Still another, Karen Kalla, the Club’s former population staff person, stated at a 1997 Population Committee meeting in Colorado that it was her personal belief that the U.S. should not adopt a national population policy (Fred Elbel. 1998. "Open Letter to Sierra Club Board of Directors." Focus. Vol. 8, No. 1).

173 The animus of many of these individuals to the population stabilization message is revealed by the following anecdote from the July 1997 Population Committee meeting in Boulder, Colo.: "Dinner Saturday night was held to honor world-renowned scientist and environmentalist, Dr. Al Bartlett, who organized committee use of University of Colorado facilities over the weekend. Prof. Bartlett had offered to present his famous after-dinner talk on the consequences of exponential growth. Over half the Committee boycotted the dinner with the result that the talk was never presented to the Committee (Fred Elbel. 1998. "Open Letter to Sierra Club Board of Directors." Focus. Vol. 8, No. 1). [This lecture — "Arithmetic, Population and Energy: Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis" — has been presented over 1,100 times to audiences in 49 states, several countries, and the U.S. Congress.]

174 Supra, note 102.

175 Fred Elbel. 1999. E-mail to authors. May 14. Elbel, a long-time Sierra member and population activist, observes that human rights and social justice activists tend, 1) not to consider the long-term consequences of present actions, 2) not to be well-versed in general systems thinking, and 3) not to be "numerate" (able to grasp the significance of numbers). Like most members of society at large, they do not understand the treacherous nature of exponential growth. In a word, they tend to lack "ecolacy," a term coined in 1970 by human ecologist Garrett Hardin to describe the filter through which ecologists view, understand, and predict natural phenomena. As Hardin put it: "The key question of ecolate analysis is this: ‘And then what?’" (Garrett Hardin. 1985. Filters Against Folly: How to Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent. New York: Viking).

176 Supra, note 170.

177 Charles Frankel. 1955. The Case for Modern Man. New York: Harper.

178 Alan Kuper. 1999. E-mail to list. May 12.

179 Roy Beck. 1997. "Sorting Through Humanitarian Clashes in Immigration Policy." Paper presented at the Annual National Conference on Applied Ethics at California State University at Long Beach.

180 For more detailed descriptions and critiques of corporate globalism, see: Sir James Goldsmith. 1995. "Global Free Trade and GATT." Focus, Vol. 5, No. 1.; Excerpted from his book Le Piege. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network; Herman E. Daly. 1995. "Against Free Trade and Economic Orthodoxy." The Oxford International Review, summer; Herman E. Daly. 1999. "Globalism, Internationalism, and National Defense." Focus, Vol. 9, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network; and David Korten. 1995. When Corporations Rule the World. West Hartford, Conn., and San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers & Kumarian Press.

181 Peter Beinart. 1998. "Greens Flip over Turtles." Time. April 27.

182 John Heilemann. 1996. "Do You Know the Way to Ban Jose?" Wired. August; John J. Miller. 1998. "The Politics of Permanent Immigration." Reason. October; numerous articles in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times from 1996 to 1998 described the potent efforts of groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Information Technology Association of America to maintain or even increase immigration levels.

183 Ibid.

184 Supra, note 132.

185 Supra, note 141.

186 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. 1999a. Undated direct mail letter for NRDC.

187 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. 1999b. Undated direct mail letter for NRDC.

188 John H. Adams. 1999. Undated direct mail letter for NRDC.

189 Ibid.

190 In a 1998 post to the on-line Sierra Club population forum, Executive Director Carl Pope cited a hypothetical example of 100,000 peasants moving from the Guatemalan highlands to the Peten rainforest (also in Guatelmala) versus their moving to Los Angeles, and concluded that the former was worse for the global environment. Similarly, environmental filmmaker and author Michael Tobias (World War III: Population and the Biosphere at the Millennium. 1993. Santa Fe: Bear & Co.), when questioned after a 1994 Los Angeles speech on overpopulation, said he would favor relocating people from rapidly-growing tropical countries with high and threatened biodiversity to countries like the United States with less biodiversity, although he admitted this notion was "quirky." (Aside from political considerations, it is problematic for two reasons: 1) because the consumption of a number of products ranging from tropical hardwoods to hamburgers in the rich countries contributes to the demise of biodiversity in the tropics, and with larger populations the rich countries will consume more; and 2) because alleviating population pressures through such "safety-valve" schemes would only act as a temporary expedient unless the more fundamental problem of growth was also addressed. Airlifting colonizers from the Peten to Los Angeles would simply open up that frontier to still more migrants from the rapidly growing Guatemalan highlands unless, simultaneously, birth rates there were reduced and economic opportunities increased.)

191 Todd Lewan. 1999. "Guarding the Frigid, Perilous Bering Sea." Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal, May 2.

192 Ben Zuckerman estimates that California would have to reach a population of perhaps one billion, that is, almost four times the present population of the entire U.S. and over 30 times the current state population — or five times the current density of our most densely-populated state (New Jersey) — before it loses its allure to prospective migrants from the more desperate reaches of the third world. Of course, the impacts of such an increase on the environment and quality of life are so staggering as to be almost unimaginable. But surely they would render the state virtually unrecognizable — much of it an environmental wasteland — with what is left of nature confined to postage-stamp sized, weed-infested plots.

193ZPG Reporter, February, 1998.

194 William Branigin. 1998. "Sierra Club Votes for Neutrality on Immigration: Population Issue ‘Intensely Debated.’" The Washington Post. April 26; John H. Cushman, Jr. 1998. "Sierra Club Rejects Move to Oppose Immigration." The New York Times. April 26; election results provided by Marvin Baker, Acting Chief Inspector of Election for the Inspectors, and posted on Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS) website on April 24, 1998. http://www.sni.net/ecofuture/susps/info/votes_980425.html.

195 Daniel Quinn and Alan D. Thornhill. 1998. "Food Production and Population Growth." Video documentary supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Theology. Houston: New Tribal Ventures.

196 George F. Kennan. 1993. Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy. New York: W.W. Norton.

197 Roy Beck. 1994. Re-Charting America’s Future. Petoskey, MI: Social Contract Press.

198 U.S. Census Bureau. 1998. "Foreign-Born Population in the United States: March 1997 (update)," Current Population Reports, P20-507. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

199 U.S. Census Bureau. 1997. "Foreign-Born Population: 1996." Current Population Reports, P20-494. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

200 Michael A. Fletcher and Ceci Connolly. 1999. "Gore Chases Hispanic Vote On Bush Turf." The Washington Post. July 29, p. 1, 12. "The battle for the Latino vote is crucial to both parties because Latinos have been showing signs of coalescing into a political force. Jolted by a wave of GOP-led proposals across the country to limit immigration, impose English-only provisions, and deny social service benefits to illegal immigrants, the Latino electorate grew by 29 percent between 1992 and 1996." The same article noted that Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain of Arizona, addressing a conference of Hispanic leaders, decried the "divisive" efforts to eliminate bilingual education.

201 Ronald Brownstein. 1999. "Latino Clout, Improved Economy Soften GOP Stance on Immigration." Los Angeles Times. July 19, A5.

202 John H. Cushman, Jr. 1998. "An Uncomfortable Debate Fuels a Sierra Club Election." The New York Times, April 5.

203 Diana Hull. 1999. "Cry, the Overcrowded County: A Post-Earth Day Requiem." The Social Contract, Summer.

204 In a February 1996 Roper poll, 73 percent of blacks and 52 percent of Hispanics favored reducing immigration to 300,000 or fewer annually. The 1993 Latino National Political Survey, largest ever done of this ethnic group in the United States, found that 7 in 10 respondents thought there were too many immigrants (higher than the percentage of non-Hispanic whites or "Anglos" who did). A Hispanic USA Research Group poll (1993) found that three-quarters of Hispanics believed fewer immigrants should be admitted.

205 Ben Zuckerman. 1998. "Will the Sierra Club Be Hurt If the Ballot Question Passes?" Supra, note 121.

206 Supra, note 40.

207 Santos Gomez. 1997. Op-ed in San Francisco Chronicle. November 17.

208 Home Builders Association of Northern California. 1998. "Behind the Sierra Club Vote on Curbing Immigration: Do environmentalists risk alienating the fastest-growing ethnic group in California?" HBA News, Vol. 21, No. 1, February.

209 Ben Zuckerman. 1998. "Cut Immigration, Save the Environment." Los Angeles Times, March 15.

210 Bill Isbister. 1998. "McEarth Day 98: Corporate Snowjob!" News release circulated by the grassroots group "Too Many People...Too Little Earth!"

211 Supra, note 34.

212 Jamie Rappaport Clark and John Rogers. 1997. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 1997. Strategic Plan, September 30, 1997 – September 30, 2002. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. p. 1. Clark and Rogers are the Director and Assistant Director of this federal agency, respectively.

213 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. undated. DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Concept Plan. p. 17.

214 Ibid.

215 One anthology edited by Paul Shepard and Daniel McKinley was entitled The Subversive Science: Toward an Ecology of Man (Houghton Mifflin, 1969). The journal Bioscience published an influential essay by Paul Sears entitled "Ecology – A Subversive Subject," (14(7):11, 1964).

216 Lindsey Grant. 1994. "The Timid Crusade." NPG Forum Series. Washington, D.C.: Negative Population Growth.

217 John Bermingham. 1998. Personal communication.

218 Supra, note 62.

219 Garrett Hardin. 1993. Living Within Limits. New York: Oxford University Press.

220 Supra, note 210.

221 Alan Kuper. 1998. Personal communication based on meeting with Sierra Club executive director.

222 Ibid.

223 William E. Murray. 1998. E-mail to Roy Beck. December 8.

224 Howard Gleckman. 1998. "A Rich Stew in the Melting Pot." Business Week, August 31.

225 Supra, note 182; Miller article.

226 Martin Regalia. 1999. "Immigrants Wanted" (Letter to the Editor). The New York Times, April 8.

227 Dell Erickson. 1999. E-mail to the authors, June 1. Excerpts from a 1995 paper entitled "Social Security: The American Tragedy."

228 Nan Hildreth. 1998. Post to Sierra Club Population Forum <cons-spst-population@lists. sierraclub.org> June 17.

229 Dell Erickson. 1998. Post to Sierra Club Population Forum <cons-spst-population@lists. sierraclub.org> July 3.

230 David Simcox. 1998. "Social Security: The Ponzi Path to Dystopia." NPG Forum Series, October. Washington, D.C.: Negative Population Growth.

231 Supra, note 208.

232 Laurie Ann Mazur (ed.). 1994. Beyond the Numbers: A Reader on Population, Consumption, and the Environment. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

233 Mark Krikorian. 1999. Personal communication.

234 Supra, note 203.

235 John McPhee. 1971. Encounters with the Archdruid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Alex Barnum and Glen Martin. 2000. "Sierra Club Legend Dies: Environmentalist was uncompromising steward of the planet." San Francisco Chronicle. 7 November.

236 Gaylord Nelson. 1997. "Environment – Population – Sustainable Development: Where Do We Go From Here?" Focus, Vol. 7, No. 2. Washington, D.C.: Carrying Capacity Network. Text of speech delivered to Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 15, 1997.

237 Pat Carome. 1998. "Environment Humanity’s No. 1 Challenge." Beloit Daily News, April 23.

238 Bob Vitale. 1998. "Gaylord Nelson says population growth injures environment." Oshkosh Northwestern. December 14.

239 Anon. 2000. "Senator Advises Smaller U.S. Population." Associated Press, 31 March.

240 Gaylord Nelson. 2000. Letter to Leon Kolankiewicz. 27 June.

241 Harold Gilliam. 1997. "Elbow to Elbow on the Land: An interview with Daniel B. Luten." San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. 27 April.

242 Supra, note 41.

243 Anon. 2000. "Sierra Club leader quits in protest: David Brower claims board has ‘no real sense of urgency.’" MSNBC-Associated Press. May 19. Retrieved at http://www.msnbc.com/news/409749.asp on May 23, 2000.

244 Frederick W. Hollmann, Tammany J. Mulder, and Jeffrey E. Kallan, "Methodology and Assumptions for the Population Projections of the United States: 1999 to 2100." U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division Working Paper No. 38. Issued January 13, 2000.