Mudcat Café message #2892351 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128992   Message #2892351
Posted By: Riginslinger
22-Apr-10 - 06:20 PM
Thread Name: Earth Day 40 years old
Subject: RE: Earth Day 40 years old
Find Gaylord Nelson's (the founder of Earthday)prophetic words below:

The population of the U.S. in 1970 was 203 million. It had doubled from about 100 million in 1915 – a period of just 55 years. That growth of 100 million certainly had had a huge impact on the natural environment of North America. But the future looked hopeful. The 'baby boom' was over and our total fertility rate had dropped rapidly to replacement level of two births per woman. Immigration was at about 250,000 per year (which was the average at that time since the founding of the nation). In 1972 the Rockefeller Commission concluded additional population growth was not in the best interests of the people of the United States.

The landmark environmental legislation of the seventies was remarkable and effective in many ways. But Gaylord Nelson saw its effectiveness eroded by continuing population increase produced by the same Congress as it made changes to immigration laws that produce a quadrupling of legal immigration to more than one million per year plus high levels of illegal immigration.

Unfortunately, we lost Gaylord in 2005. But what would he have said in 2006 with all the publicity about America reaching 300 million souls? There are ample clues in his speeches and writings.

Writing on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day in 2000, here are the priorities as he saw them:

"Population, global warming and sustainability would be my suggestions for the three most urgent environmental challenges… Stabilizing U.S. population is a challenge that could be resolved in a relatively short period resulting in significant economic and environmental benefits. At the current rate of population growth the population of the U.S. will double from 265 million o to some 530 million within the next 65-70 years. If that happens the negative consequences will be substantial if not, indeed, disastrous."

Never one to avoid taking an issue head on, he continued:

"To stabilize our population would require a dramatic reduction in the immigration rate. That is opposed by some who ague we are a nation of immigrants and such reduction would violate our tradition. [I have to note that the nation's tradition has been a fraction of the level of immigration than is currently authorized and tolerated by Congress.] Others insist such a reduction would be racist because about one fourth of all immigrants come from Mexico; and still others who claim we need the abundant cheap labor that immigration provides.

I don't think there is much merit to any of these arguments. But instead of just waiting until the population doubles and then doubles again, should we not have a national dialogue on the issue and try to reach some consensus that serves the best interests of the nation?"