Limiting immigration: unjust or environmentally sound?
Your March 11 editorial "The Sierra Club and Immigration" relies on the stated logic that the policy of restricted immigration to the US would be "saving the planet by keeping poorer would-be migrants in their own country" and at the same time "make the US a model in controlling US population growth." But I disagree with the notion that immigration into the United States should be restricted for environmental reasons.
Past and present immigration to the US is an understandable result of lack of opportunity within other countries. Restrictions on movement into our country should not be based on the desire to maintain our unsustainable standard of living at the expense of others. The fact that Americans use too many natural resources should not be used as a justification to restrict immigration to this country.
Instead of telling potential migrants that they cannot enter the US and enjoy the "good life" that we possess, we should instead examine our own lifestyles in order to create changes that result in reduced waste and a more environmentally friendly existence. Ultimately, the solution to the problem of environmental damage lies in changing our approach to living and relating to the environment, regardless of how many people are within the country's borders.
I served on the Sierra Club's national population committee in the 1980s. Common sense says that the US, with or without its current levels of resource consumption, cannot continue a growth rate - fueled mostly by the highest rate of immigration in our history - powering us toward 1 billion Americans by 2100. Such growth is a slap in the face to Americans, who through a replacement-level birthrate since 1972 have shown support for an environmentally strong, sustainable future.
This is no more "anti-immigrant" than birth control is "antibaby." It recognizes the hypocrisy of the third fastest-growing nation admonishing growth restraint for other nations, especially when our open borders are so harmful to many unskilled, native-born minority workers in poor and, often, high-immigration states.
That some in the Sierra Club attempt to dodge population, the very core of the concept of carrying capacity, in deference to a misinformed view of political correctness - and often by distorting the views and motives of those seeking board seats - is outrageous.
Los Alamos, N.M.
Your March 10 article "How do you like your iguana?" was irresponsible in suggesting that the farming of iguanas for human consumption could enhance conservation efforts.
History has shown that increased use of a wild animal (whether wild-caught or captive-bred) by humans invariably harms that species in the wild. Poaching, for example, is a major problem facing wildlife. Captive-bred and wild-caught species are physically indistinguishable; therefore, the difficulty in differentiating "ranched" iguana from wild-caught iguana will create a significant enforcement challenge for wildlife officials. Wild iguana populations also will be hurt by captive-breeding programs, which inevitably require the collection of wild stock to supplement the captive gene pool.
Promoting the ranching and consumption of iguanas as an environmentally sound food choice will only exacerbate already serious conservation and animal-welfare challenges facing the species.
Senior Program Coordinator, Animal Protection Institute
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