Reduce Immigration and Go Vegan?
Here’s the 7th and final installment of questions from our Solving Overshoot webinar. I’m sharing the questions we didn’t have time to address, and I’m including comments received from Madeleine Somerville and Paul Ehrlich, our panelists. If you missed the first few installments, start here with installment one. Your comments are welcome below. I’ve jumped in and offered some of my own thoughts because of the importance and relevance of these. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
24. Libby Sharpe asked: “I hate to be the one to raise the immigration question, but any thoughts about that? I am compassionate toward immigrants, but it seems to me that unfettered immigration just disseminates populations without lowering birthrates, as much of the immigrations is from countries where there is high selective pressure for increased birth rates.”
Paul Ehrlich: May actually increase consumption, but ethically-charged and difficult issue (for some of the issues see the ancient Ehrlich PR, Bilderback L, Ehrlich AH. 1981. The Golden Door: International Migration, Mexico, and the United States. Wideview Books.)
Madeleine Somerville: I support immigration especially in refugee situations, and I suppose one could argue that moving to a place with broader support for contraception, abortion, and cultural preference for smaller families may impact birth rates among immigrants.
Dave Gardner: In some respects the (over)developed world has created the conditions that lead to mass immigration. We don’t have much right to turn away people whose resources we’ve appropriated or people whose land is underwater thanks to the climate disruption we’ve caused. We owe them safe passage. In other cases, it doesn’t seem so wise or even compassionate to entice people to give up their homes and more sustainable cultures in order to join our colony of addicts. We are addicted to excess and are going to have to go through the pain of (and joy) of going cold turkey and getting unhooked. Why sign more people up for that challenging path? I also see nations using immigration to grow their economy, because their metrics for success and progress are so screwed up; I’d like to see that exploitation of immigrants end. It may be impossible to get rational population policies in a world where countries don’t have to take any responsibility for the sustainability of their footprint. All that said, I don’t see lowering immigration to (over)developed nations as our highest priority, especially since focusing on that closes a lot of doors right now. I’d rather keep the doors open while we bring the world up to speed on overshoot and what is needed to get out of this condition.
25. Grant Barnes asked: “Thoughts on veganism to reduce consumption?”
Paul Ehrlich: Eating less meat certainly a good idea, veganism less so.
Madeleine Somerville: I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years and do believe in the environmental benefits of a plant-based or meat/dairy reduced diet.
Dave Gardner: That’s one tool in the toolkit of reducing our footprint. I just think we should be clear that it is not a panacea that would make 7 billion (or 11) suddenly sustainable.
26. Chris Bystroff asked: “How do people feel about a face to face conference on overshoot?”
Dave Gardner: I think we did discuss this briefly, but it warrants further conversation here. It’s expensive and fraught with challenges, but I still love the idea and would support any effort.
27. James MacDermott asked: “Do the webinars successfully educate people who don’t already know about overpopulation? How can GrowthBusters attract a larger audience?”
Paul Ehrlich: Probably not, and, sadly, don’t know.
Madeleine Somerville: The core audience of these webinars will likely be comprised of those already interested in the issue, but as you attract different panelist and involve different interest groups (e.g. those campaigning for women’s rights, water rights, minimalists, zero-wasters, etc.) you’ll rope in different groups and grow your message.
Dave Gardner: That’s a great question, James. We’ll discuss that at our January online meetings (registration currently open only to GrowthBusters members due to attendance limits). I want to find a way for the webinar series to serve both the newly curious and the long-time activists. It may be we need two different tracks – like an undergraduate course and a post-graduate course at a university. Suggestions welcome.
Those were the last of the unanswered questions from our Solving Overshoot webinar. If you missed that webinar, a replay is available to GrowthBusters members. The next webinar will be in February. Thank you for your interest.
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