Let me put it plainly: the planet Earth cannot afford anymore Americans.
But not only is an ever expanding population of residents of the United States due to immigration unsustainable, the birthrate and our excessive style of resource consumption is killing the planet.
I'll be blunt again: after and only after we have altered the typical American life-style and brought our ecological footprint inline with the rest of the world should any "immigration reform" be considered that would allow anymore people to enter the United States.
As 'ecological footprint' statistics presented below indicate, it is people living here that are most responsible for the global climate change that is threatening the eco-system of the Earth. It would, therefore, be the height of irresponsible to add to the numbers of Americans.
Indeed, as the first few reports here demonstrate, we should be very concerned that growing human population is encroaching such on the rest of the environment that the sustainability capacity of the planet may have already passed the tipping point. When species necessary for human survival, like bats and bees, are under new survival threats themselves, then key indicators about the health of the environment may have been presented.
Dealing with human overpopulation and the negative impacts of immigration into the United States are nearly taboo subjects in the political, social and religious discourse of Americans. But ignoring these extraordinarily difficult and uncomfortable realities won't make them go away. And, indeed, I don't have a good handle on solutions either -- but being willing to recognize and debate the problem is an important first step if we are ever going to find remedies.
The remainder of this post contains information and links to hopefully further illustrate the danger of our predicament. I then encourage you to be bold and at least give voice to the unpopular choices that need to be taken to save the planet from the swarm of humanity.
It seems to be a law of nature that when people come, animals go. It happened in the past, and it's happening again now.
About 11,000 years ago, more than 130 species, including most large mammals such as the woolly mammoth, saber-tooth cat and a 5-ton ground sloth, suddenly vanished from North America.
Scientists are still debating the reasons, but two leading suspects are excessive hunting by humans who had newly arrived from the Old World and devastating human-borne diseases.
"People come and animals begin to disappear," said Ross MacPhee, the curator of the mammal collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
A third commonly cited cause of the massive extinction is climate change at the end of the Ice Age and its effect on plant and animal habitats.
The combination of climate change and human impact was especially destructive, according to Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"Today we stand at a similar crossroads," Barnosky reported in an analysis of the extinctions during what scientists call the Late Pleistocene age, about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. "A similar but scaled-up natural experiment is under way today - the exponential growth of human populations at exactly the same time the Earth is warming at unprecedented rates," he wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...
... Looking to the future, Dennis Hansen, a biologist at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., predicted that human activities are "set to cause further extinctions among large vertebrates."
In an article last month in the journal Science, Hansen pointed to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, where the vast majority of animals have gone extinct, leaving the forests "largely populated by ghosts today." ...
A mysterious fungus is killing off thousands of bats around the country. Scientists are calling it white-nose syndrome, because of the distinctive white smudges on the noses and wings of infected bats. White-nose itself doesn't kill bats, but it disturbs their sleep so that they end their hibernation early. During the winter there are no insects to eat, so the bats literally starve to death.
Bats may be one of Mother Nature's least cuddly creatures, but they are ecologically important, keeping mosquitos and insects that attack crops in check.
Researchers say the syndrome has killed upward of half a million bats from New England to Virginia.
"If current trends continue, we will be losing millions of bats in the next couple years," said Al Hicks, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
In some of the worst-hit areas, the mortality rate is 90 percent. Scientists are even using the word "extinction."
Honey bee colony losses nationwide were approximately 29 percent from all causes from September 2008 to April 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ...
... About 26 percent of apiaries surveyed reported that some of their colonies died of colony collapse disorder (CCD), down from 36 percent of apiaries in 2007-2008. CCD is characterized by the sudden, complete absence of honey bees in a colony. The cause of CCD is still unknown. ...
... among beekeepers that reported any colonies collapsing without the presence of dead bees, each lost an average of 32 percent of their colonies in 2008-2009, while apiaries that did not lose any bees with symptoms of CCD each lost an average of 26 percent of their colonies.
To strengthen the beekeeping industry, ARS recently began a five-year areawide research program to improve honey bee health, survivorship and pollination. Honey bee pollination is critical to agriculture, adding more than $15 billion to the value of American crops each year.
By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth's land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.
"Climate change now represents at least as great a threat to the number of species surviving on Earth as habitat-destruction and modification," said Chris Thomas, a conservation biologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
Immigration to Play Lead Role In Future U.S. Growth | Jeffrey Passel and D'Vera Cohn/Pew Research Center - February 11, 2008
U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050
If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center.
Of the 117 million people added to the population during this period due to the effect of new immigration, 67 million will be the immigrants themselves and 50 million will be their U.S.-born children or grandchildren.
Among the other key population projections:
- Nearly one in five Americans (19%) will be an immigrant in 2050, compared with one in eight (12%) in 2005. By 2025, the immigrant, or foreign-born, share of the population will surpass the peak during the last great wave of immigration a century ago.
- The major role of immigration in national growth builds on the pattern of recent decades, during which immigrants and their U.S.-born children and grandchildren accounted for most population increase. Immigration's importance increased as the average number of births to U.S.-born women dropped sharply before leveling off.
- The Latino population, already the nation's largest minority group, will triple in size and will account for most of the nation's population growth from 2005 through 2050. Hispanics will make up 29% of the U.S. population in 2050, compared with 14% in 2005.
- Births in the United States will play a growing role in Hispanic and Asian population growth; as a result, a smaller proportion of both groups will be foreign-born in 2050 than is the case now.
- The non-Hispanic white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups; whites will become a minority (47%) by 2050.
- The nation's elderly population will more than double in size from 2005 through 2050, as the baby boom generation enters the traditional retirement years. The number of working-age Americans and children will grow more slowly than the elderly population, and will shrink as a share of the total population.
The United Nations has raised its optimistic "low" estimate of world population growth due to an increase in childbirths in some industrialized nations.
In a biennial report released last week, the U.N. Population Division increased slightly a projection it uses to forecast the size of the human population. The "low-variant" scenario of population growth now foresees 117 million more people on the planet in 2050 than it did two years ago.
While the "median-variant" scenario, often seen as "most likely," remains almost the same as before - predicting a world with 9.2 billion people by mid-century, up from nearly 6.8 billion today - the earlier low projection did not anticipate jumps in fertility in Europe and the United States [PDF].
Ecological Footprint according to Wikipedia:
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle. For 2005, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.3 planet Earths - in other words, humanity uses ecological services 1.3 times as fast as Earth can renew them.
Global Footprint Network Data Tables 2008
Total Ecological Footprint
(global hectares per capita):
United States - 9.4
Mexico - 3.4
Guatemala - 1.5
Haiti - 0.5
Honduras - 1.8
Nicaragua - 2.0
Dominican Republic - 1.5
Panama - 3.2
Costa Rica - 2.3
El Salvador - 1.6
An MIT class has estimated the carbon emissions of Americans in a wide variety of lifestyles -- from the homeless to multimillionaires, from Buddhist monks to soccer moms -- and compared them to those of other nations. The somewhat disquieting bottom line is that in the United States, even the people with the lowest usage of energy are still producing, on average, more than double the global per-capita average. Whether you live in a cardboard box or a luxurious mansion, whether you subsist on homegrown vegetables or wolf down imported steaks, whether you're a jet-setter or a sedentary retiree, anyone who lives in the U.S. contributes more than twice as much greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as the global average, an MIT class has estimated. The class studied the carbon emissions of Americans in a wide variety of lifestyles--from the homeless to multimillionaires, from Buddhist monks to soccer moms--and compared them to those of other nations. The somewhat disquieting bottom line is that in the United States, even people with the lowest energy usage account for, on average, more than double the global per-capita carbon emission. And those emissions rise steeply from that minimum as people's income increases.
"Regardless of income, there is a certain floor below which the individual carbon footprint of a person in the U.S. will not drop," says Timothy Gutowski, professor of mechanical engineering, who taught the class that calculated the rates of carbon emissions. The results will be presented this May at the IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and the Environment in San Francisco.
While it may seem surprising that even people whose lifestyles don't appear extravagant--the homeless, monks, children--are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, one major factor is the array of government services that are available to everyone in the United States. These basic services--including police, roads, libraries, the court system and the military--were allocated equally to everyone in the country in this study. Other services that are more specific, such as education or Medicare, were allocated only to those who actually make use of them. ...
... But the "floor" below which nobody in the U.S. can reach, no matter a person's energy choices, turned out to be 8.5 tons, the class found. That was the emissions calculated for a homeless person who ate in soup kitchens and slept in homeless shelters.