Lou Dobbs Show Cites Fear Mongering Anti-Immigrant Astronomist As Population Growth Expert

Ben Zuckerman

Ben Zuckerman

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.

Watch it:

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.”

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress


  1. Kris Schmidt says

    Really get serious! You can’t use those Rush Limbaugh – Bill Orielly – Fox News tactics on Progressives because we actually use our brains to do thoughtful analysis and we do fact checking. First the US Census Bureau does not make projections beyond 50 years and the last projections available on their website show US population growing to 451 million by the year 2050, up from the current estimated population of 304 million. That is a 48% INCREASE IN POPULATION BY 2050!! Get your facts straight. This type of hyperbole on a progressive website that attempts to incite irrational emotional mob thinking using false statistics and character assasination is shameful. See the wikipedia page on this subject

    and the US Census Bureau

    You might consider that a majority of progressives consider US population to be too large NOW to be sustained by our environment and that immigration accounts for 63% of our population growth.

  2. Paul says

    Andrea Nill’s use of sneer quotes is inspired. What a potent writer she is, the second coming of Tom Paine. (And coiner of words — astronomist!)

    Regarding Zuckerman:

    – He’s been a Sierra Club member, continuously, from the 1960s.

    – Being a physical scientist (with several hundred papers published in refereed journals), he’s able to think, including quantitatively.

    – Zuckerman may have been on the board of Yeh Ling-ling’s Diversity Alliance, but he certainly wasn’t **the director**.

    – Zuckerman wasn’t on the Sierra Club board until 2002, well after the 1998 initiative attempt to put immigration back on the Club’s agenda. The “let’s have the Club return to recommending immigration reductions and population stabilization” initiative got 40% of the vote of rank-and-file Club members who participated in the 1998 election — despite the Club’s flagrant violation of its bylaws in the way it put together the ballot.

    – The reason for the Club’s solons’ repeated, frantic, piling-on campaigns to suppress discussion of overpopulation and immigration was revealed in 2004: Gelbaum’s $100 million donation to the Club that came with a gag rule on those specific subjects (because Gelbaum said such discussions would dishonor his late, immigrant grandfather, not for any principled environmental reason).

    One of the insurgent candidates in the 2004 board elections was Dick Lamm, former Democratic, three-term Colorado governor, co-founder of the NAACP at UC Berkeley in 1959, leader of the successful effort to keep the 1976 Winter Olympics and their environmental impact out of Colorado.

    Another of the insurgent candidates was Frank Morris, past executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    Those sorts of credentials carried no weight against the Club’s amazing smear campaign in 2004 — the insurgent candidates, Morris included, were blithely called “racists” by those who were supporting the Club-approved candidates (i.e. the ones who had been placed on the ballot by the Club’s Nominations Committee).

    It was only at the end of that year that we first heard about the Gelbaum money, reported in the Los Angeles Times. See “The Man Behind the Land.”

  3. Wanda Berger says

    If we as a nation are really serious about reducing consumption and preserving an environment to pass on to our kids we need to work toward a sustainable population. Inasmuch as the U.S. is growing mostly from immigration, then the question of numbers must be looked at.

    This is a topic that is going to be coming up more and more as our population grows and pressure on resources increase , e.g. this very recent article from a Yale scholar…


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