U.S. o Information o Reports o Reference o Books
Resolution #114, City of Aspen, Colorado
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF ASPEN, COLORADO,
SUPPORTING POPULATION STABILIZATION IN THE UNITED STATES
WHEREAS: The population of the United States reached about 274 million in 1999 and is growing by approximately three million each year, over 57,000 weekly, the highest population growth rate of the developed countries of the world. Most European countries are at zero or negative population growth.
WHEREAS: The population of the U.S .is six percent of the world's population, consuming up to 25 percent of the world's natural resources.
WHEREAS: The ability of the United States to support a population within its carrying capacity is now strained because of population growth. Fifty percent of our original wetlands have been drained to accommodate growth. Ninety-five percent of all U.S. old growth forests have been destroyed. It is estimated that we have consumed approximately three-fourths of all our recoverable petroleum, and we now import more than half of the oil we consume in the United States. America's underground aquifers are being drawn down 23 percent more than their natural rates of recharge.
WHEREAS: For each person added to the U.S. population, about one acre of open land is lost, causing a total yearly loss of about three million acres. America annually exports $40 Billion in food. If present population trends continue, the U.S. will cease to be a food exporter by about 2030.
WHEREAS: The report of the Task Force on Population and Consumption of the President's Council on Sustainable Development (1996) said: "The two most important steps toward sustainability are:
1. to stabilize the population promptly, and
2. to move toward greater material and energy efficiency in all production and use of goods and service." The President's Council said, "...reducing immigration levels is a necessary part of population stabilization and the drive toward sustainability."
WHEREAS: Population growth generated by mass immigration to the United States causes increasing pressures on our environment and forces local governments and communities to spend taxpayers dollars for additional schools, health care facilities, water disposal plants, transportation systems, fire protection, water supplies, power generation plants and many other social and environmental costs.
WHEREAS: 70 percent of U.S. population growth in the 1990's resulted from mass immigration, comprised of approximately 1.2 million legal immigrants and 300,000 to 400,000 illegal immigrants plus their U.S.- born offspring, annually. If mass immigration continues, the population of the United States is projected to exceed half-a-billion by 2050.
WHEREAS: Population growth is unsustainable. With a return to replacement levels of immigration, U.S. population can expect to stabilize in another 40 to 50 years. A temporary, all-inclusive five-year immigration reduction to 100,000 annually, followed by a return to 200,000 annually, will eventually allow the U.S. to stabilize its population, at best at about 325 million, and
WHEREAS: A majority of Americans of all ethnic and racial backgrounds favors substantial reduction in legal immigration and a complete halt to illegal immigration, and
WHEREAS: The people of the United States and the City of Aspen, Colorado, envision a country with a stable population, material and energy efficiency, a sustainable future, a healthy environment, clean air and water, ample open space, wilderness, abundant wildlife and social and civic cohesion in which the dignity of human life is enhanced and protected.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the City of Aspen hereby petitions the Congress of the United States and the President to immediately implement with deliberate speed and by means consistent with the Constitution of the United States, the consensus of the American People and the President's Council-legislation appropriate to stabilize the population of the United States and insure sustainability:
(1) that will encourage and promote all opportunities toward establishing and maintaining material and energy efficiency, social and environmental responsibility;
(2) by a return to traditional replacement levels of legal immigration, approximately 175,000, all-inclusive per year, annually; by
(3) requiring equitable wages and benefits for workers and community environmental protections to be part of all free trade agreements; and
(4) by mandated enforcement of our immigration laws against illegal immigration, thereby promoting the future well being of all the citizens of this Nation and the City of Aspen.
Below is the opening statement by Aspen Councilman Terry Paulson, who sponsored the resolution:
Fellow Council Members:
This resolution we will be considering for adoption tonight could be the most important consideration we will ever make as representatives of our constituents and their children.
Immigration-driven population increases are transforming America-already the fastest growing country of all the developed countries of the world and the third most populous country in the world-into a country of over a half-a-billion within the near future, within the lifetime of our school children.
In October, I attended and participated in a conference at the Aspen Institute, called The Myth of Sustainable Growth. At that conference, I had the privilege of hearing a remarkable talk, Population, Immigration and Global Ethics, by Jonette Christian, from Maine. Jonette is a family therapist by profession, giving her a very special perspective on this matter before us.
Here is some of what she said: "As this future descends upon our children, public silence about these numbers is deafening. And we are responding like deer with headlights in our eyes-paralyzed or else indifferent-and we would rather talk about almost anything else: urban sprawl, pollution... traffic, declining fish stocks, falling water tables... [smart growth], overcrowded schools, [highways and transportation]-anything to avoid blunt speech about [immigration-driven] population numbers. Speaking to you as a family therapist, this is the behavior of dysfunctional groups. They avoid conversation about the pink elephant in the living room at all costs, and they exhaust themselves in a flurry of helpful activity around peripheral matters. We have agitated, confused and deluded ourselves with the illusion that we are being overwhelmed by many, many problems-when in fact we have primarily only one. But it is the one that terrifies us the most, and we handle that terror by chattering endlessly about everything else. Denying... [ignoring] and minimizing population growth in the 1990s is a hate crime against future generations, and it must end"
And isn't that really the dilemma we are confronted with tonight? We can act as a dysfunctional family by making "safe", reality-denying choices. We can chose to support an ill-defined, general resolution in support of population stabilization, making sure not to mention the I-word, immigration, the prime driving force behind our reckless growth into a country of over a half-a-billion souls. We can ignore prudent, necessary reduction numbers and deny glaring facts that would otherwise encourage establishing a sound and traditionally consistent flow of population stabilizing immigration. And by doing so, we will effectively be choosing to foreclose the future of America's and Colorado's children.
Or we can make the necessary, responsible and, yes, uncomfortable choice. We can pass this resolution intact, a resolution written with carefully considered language and with distinguished, learned support-the only real hope for an eventual stable American population. And by doing that, we will serve as the needed example for other representative bodies to act affirmatively for their constituents, providing them with the opportunity to join the small yet growing number of uncompromising voices now openly acknowledging the emperor is indeed without cloths.
Finally, I am reminded of the frog-in-the-water analogy. You can put a frog in water and turn up the heat little by little until the frog is dead. On the other hand, drop a frog in boiling water and it immediately jumps out. We are all in the pot of water, and the heat is being insidiously turned up, up and up at the immigration knob.
Please, join me, by calling for this deadly, increasing heat to be turned down now to health-giving, bath water temperatures, by passing this resolution as written, and thereby insuring a sustainable future for America and her children.
Separately-compiled references presenting supporting facts and material (not part of the resolution):
Carrying Capacity Network
Center for Immigration Studies
Environmental Protection Agency
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Hispanic USA Group survey
Immigration by the Numbers
President's Council on Sustainable Development, population chapter.
Prof. Albert Bartlett
Population Environment Balance
Population Reference Bureau
Roper Poll, 1996
Save America's Forests
United States Census Bureau
Wall Street Journal Poll, 1998
Back to Population and Sustainability o EcoFuture home