What happened to Earth Day environmentalists?

Dave Gorak

June 1, 2001


At the beginning of my journalism career in Chicago 30 years ago, I rarely saw a day that did not produce stories from around the country dealing with some aspect of the environmental movement. At the heart of that movement was the belief that its goals could be reached only through stabilization of our population, which then stood at 203 million people.

The American people did their part by embracing zero population growth, a practice that continues to this day to produce smaller families for native-born Americans.

The many environmental successes since then notwithstanding, our main objective of population stabilization has been a dismal failure, and we are now paying the price in terms of accelerating urban sprawl, worsening traffic congestion, overcrowded classrooms and loss of prime agricultural land to development.

These problems have developed in main because annual immigration levels have increased nearly five times and contributed to 70 percent of our population growth since 1970.

Had annual immigration levels (coupled with zero population growth) remained where they were then - under 300,000 people - Census Bureau and Immigration and Naturalization Service statistics show our population would have peaked at 255 million in 2020 before declining and eventually stabilizing at 236 million by 2050.

Today, this nation's population stands at 281 million people, thanks in large part to the 1.2 million legal immigrants plus 300,000 to 500,000 illegal immigrants who arrived here each year during the 1990s alone. At this rate, our population will double in less than 70 years. All this happened despite three presidential commissions that strongly urged a lowering of our immigration levels.

This influx of newcomers also has been felt in DuPage County, whose population grew 16 percent to 904,161 people during the 1990s. The Fund for Immigrants and Refugees estimates that 92,374 new immigrants settled in the collar counties and suburban Cook County between 1990 and 1996. According to the Census Bureau, two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million new residents who will arrive in Illinois by 2025 will be immigrants. Most of them will settle in the Chicago metropolitan area.

   So what became of those environmentalists who gave us the first Earth Day?

In "Forsaking Fundamentals," a report just released by the Center for Immigration Studies, authors Leon Kolankiewicz and Roy Beck explain why the environmental movement totally abandoned population stabilization.

Among their findings:

Those who claim to care about the environment without factoring in the impact of mass immigration on every aspect of our daily lives are on a fool's errand. Controlling population growth is not "anti-immigrant," "racist," "xenophobic" or "nativist." It is about large numbers of people overwhelming our society's ability to absorb them and, in the process, robbing future generations of their heritage.
Used with permission of the author.
Originally an editorial published June 1, 2001
Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, IL