Photo, above: Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the conservation president, with preservationist John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.
The Connor Post Editorial – April 9, 2016
Immigration, environment and the left wing
Conventional wisdom has it that the environmental movement is a creature of the left, and that the right is concerned with business. This is not quite right. Traditionally, and recently enough that the mainstream media should know better, the environmental movement was fostered by Republicans in the US, and in general what would be thought of as the conservative elements throughout the West. It is no accident that “conservative” and “conservation” have the same root. The Endangered Species Act, the national park systems, wildlife refuges, wilderness protection — in the US, all are products of Republican administrations. After all, Teddy Roosevelt was known for many things, but maybe first and foremost, as the conservationist president.
But the issue is more that just a matter of correcting history. There is a fundamental disconnect between the aims of the left and the aims of the environmentalists. Environmentalists seek to preserve the ecology. The left is interested in social justice. Where those two conflict, the left has a problem.
Nowhere is this problem more stark than in the area of immigration. Whereas anti-immigration alliances have various motives, from economic to cultural to moral, one clear motive is related to the impact of large populations on the environment. One does not have to hearken back to Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb to note that too many people make for a less clean, less green world. This point, that of population impact, is separate from social justice. One can obviously believe in both.
Social justice advocates state that even if the effect on the environment is negative, we should not prevent people from migrating from the third world to the first. Neoliberal concur, although their motivations are depressed wages rather than justice per se.
Only conservatives would say the opposite, that irrespective of the effect on people who want to live there, some land should remain in its wild state, that there is great ecological value in maintaining a low population density in much of the world. These conservatives have a good point: lands once settled are overrun forever. Yet wild lands have a great value to our biosphere. A biosphere that is shared by the entire world. No matter how much one is concerned with the poor of the third world, you cannot help them by despoiling the remaining wild lands, nor evenly increasing population densities world wide to match those of the third world.
The social justice advocate wants to make overpopulation (as they do many problems) a global problem. Conservationists know that population issues and many aspects of environmental protection are local in scope. Another great environmentalist, Garrett Hardin has discussed this at length, stating quite bluntly,“There is no global population problem”, and does well to explain the catastrophic consequences of turning issues of third world poverty and overpopulation into global issues instead of local issues. In short, you risk destroying everything and improving nothing.
Ecologists today, though not yesterday, are uncomfortable making a choice between helping our southern brethren up and out of their poverty by bringing them here, and saving wildlife. At one point in time it seemed like all the towering giants in ecology from David Brower to E.O. Wilson, to Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson were all anti-mass migration. For those of you who know the Sea Shepherd society and the hit TV show Whale Wars, you might be interested to know that among other environmental stalwarts, Paul Watson still is against mass migration.
Social justice advocates realize they can’t have it both ways, so they avoid the issue with vagaries like “social justice.” The usual “solution” is to blame environmental despoliation on Western technology, or if they’re really out there, Western colonialism. Since America was herself a colony, that’s always a good one.
Ultimately technology does not cause pollution independently from population. More people mean more pollution. More immigration means more people. Where is the justice? And maybe more pertinent, as new conservative and populists leaders and parties are getting swept into power throughout the Western World, isn’t it a great time for conservatives to reclaim the mantel of conservation, and start actually protecting the environment from the globalists, and the well-meaning, or not-so-well-meaning, left?
— Sylvester Connor