Our VoiceImmigration

Climate Culprits Hide Behind Immigration and Overpopulation Fears

Guest Blogger • Feb 07, 2011

by Jesse Sanes

Those concerned with global warming must abandon population control as a relevant strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

Powerful actors are largely responsible for climate change: oil companies, coal giants, and industrial farming corporations. All of these profit directly from fossil fuel emissions.

These climate culprits are able to conceal themselves when groups point to population growth and immigrants as the main drivers of global warming.

For instance, in Canada, the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform recently proposed immigration restrictions as a key strategy to slow global warming. But if you look critically at who is responsible for increased CO2 emission from Canada, immigrants are nowhere near the top of the list.

Companies such as British Petroleum seem to be a much more pointed threats to the climate. These entities should be held accountable for their toll on the environment, not guarded by a tangential fear about immigration and overpopulation.

And anyway, overpopulation is a symptom of inequality and poverty. If you’re really concerned about it, you should work toward ending global poverty and educating and empowering women. As Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel Prize for economics, has demonstrated, women have smaller families the more educated, empowered and well off they are.

What’s more, if you’re really worried about immigration, you should tackle the problem of global warming first, since it will cause immigration to increase in the years ahead, as floods and droughts send tens of millions of people packing.

Focusing on immigration and overpopulation leads to false solutions and allows the real causes of environmental degradation off the hook.


Jesse Sanes is a Research Assistant on Carbon Policy at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMASS Amherst.
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