On this 49th Earth Day, the population of our country has passed 327 million … with no upper limit in sight.

This was definitely not the environmental dream at the first Earth Day in 1970 when teach-ins across the nation stressed that the nation was unable to responsibly handle even the 200-million population at that time.

The Father of Earth Day, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, expressed the dominant hope that U.S. population would never exceed 250 million.

And that hopeful vision likely would have come true if Congress had not insisted on greatly increasing the annual flow of immigration.


Like other Earth Day Dreamers in the 1960s and 1970s, Sen. Nelson (D-Wis.) was clear that the United States could never meet its environmental goals without stabilizing its population. (A presidential commission in 1973 and another one in the 1990s came to the same conclusion.)

If Congress had left annual immigration at around 300,000, the conservation laws that Sen. Nelson helped pass in the first Earth Day period likely would have resulted in the nation meeting most of those 1970-era environmental goals by now, aided in large part by a population that would be leveling off at around 250 million.

Instead, the country is struggling to slow the environmental degradation that comes from having to provide the housing, roads, workplaces, food, and waste disposal not just for the 250 million but for nearly 80 million residents above that. NumbersUSA’s many sprawl studies have calculated the millions of acres of farmland and natural habitat destroyed to handle the extra population forced by one Congress after another.


A nationwide ad campaign portrays the numbers behind this environmental tragedy in 30 seconds. It notes that annual immigration in the 1950s was around 250,000 but was double that in the 1980s and now is more than one million a year.

The ad ends by pointing out that polls find most Americans wanting immigration cut by a lot but that Congress shows no sign of listening, content in its apparent ignorance or indifference to the environmental consequences.


Roy Beck conveyed his sadness about the betrayal of the Earth Day dreamer in the introduction for “Re-Charting America’s Future,” the book he wrote for high school debate teams whose national topic in the 1994-95 year was immigration:

“But Congress all the while has been flooding the nation with unprecedented waves of foreign workers and their relatives. U.S population growth has surged.

“Now … Americans are faced with a heartbreaking conclusion: Washington has canceled out much of the environmental and social benefits that their choice of small families could have provided.

“In effect, Congress has re-charted the future that Americans thought they were creating.

“Since 1972, American women have averaged about two children each, a rate that produces no long-term population expansion. But Congress has used immigration to drive population growth higher than it was during the Baby Boom.”

On this Earth Day, the clear ecological arguments for limiting immigration into the U.S. continue to be sidelined, or worse ignored, by those elected to represent us in Congress.

For those of us who understand that the health of our communities and the economy is dependent upon the health of the environment, it’s imperative that we continue to communicate this message to our fellow Americans as well as our Congressional representatives and their staff.

Unfortunately, our political leadership either does not have much education in environmental sustainability, or they are ignoring the plain facts.

Please consider making your voice heard by contacting your Congressional representatives about this important matter.