Last night, in a segment warning of the environmental perils associated with US population growth, The Lou Dobbs Show featured Ben Zuckerman — an anti-immigrant activist who attempted a nativist takeover of the Sierra Club back in 2004. Dobbs correspondent Casey Wian allowed Zuckerman to insert himself into a discussion about a new report released by Oregon State University (OSU) which unsurprisingly shows that having fewer children lowers total carbon emissions. Zuckerman is an astronomy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles ,and a self-proclaimed “environmentalist.”
ZUCKERMAN: The mainstream environmental movement has entirely dropped the ball on this issue. And I think that’s really been a disaster for our country…They list literally hundreds of sort of trivial ways in which one can reduce one’s environmental impact on the earth, but they don’t even mention population…
WIAN: UCLA’s Zuckerman says the U.S. government could and should be doing more to encourage limited preproduction and population growth, including controlling immigration, educating the public about the impact of multiple child families, and perhaps even structuring child tax credits to reduce tax breaks for larger families.
The OSU report claims that having one American child results in an environmental impact 160 times greater than a Bangladeshi youngster due to the wealth disparity between the two nations. However, OSU provides no policy prescriptions while Zuckerman seems to imply that the world is better off if that Bangladeshi child stays in his or her home country and Bangladesh remains poor and unindustrialized. The US Census Bureau meanwhile projects that the rate of US population growth will decrease by 50% over the next six decades.
Most of Zuckerman’s environmental policy prescriptions involve curbing “over-immigration” which he claims “contributes to environmental decay.” Zuckerman is the former director of an anti-immigration group called Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America (now Alliance for a Sustainable USA) and led Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization. As a board member of the Sierra Club, Zuckerman tried to pass a resolution in 1998 that would have reversed the Club’s neutrality policy on immigration. Zuckerman and his cronies then blatantly attempted a “takeover” of the Sierra Club’s leadership by placing anti-immigrant candidates on the Club’s board ballot in 2004. The entire controversy subsided when Zuckerman’s candidates received less than 3% of all votes casted.
In recent years Zuckerman has stuck to star-watching and planet-gazing, but his recent appearance on Dobbs signals that he’s not ready to hang up his anti-immigrant towel quite yet. Zuckerman currently serves as vice-president of Californians for Population Stabilization’s board and sits on the Statistical Oversight Board of NumbersUSA. Both groups are financed by white-supremacist John Tanton, “the puppet master of the modern anti-immigration movement” who Zuckerman has referred to as “a great environmentalist.”
Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress