Voodoo Science Blames Climate Change on Immigrants

Editor's note: Readers sometimes object to the phrase "anti-immigration" to describe groups like the Center for Immigration Studies, claiming that they only object to unauthorized immigration. So it's worth noting that the group, part of John Tanton's anti-immigration network, is run by Mark Krikorian, author of The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal. (Sentinel, 2008)


According to the anti-immigrant group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), immigrants to the US are now to blame for extreme weather, rising sea levels, changing ecosystems, melting glaciers, and dying polar bears.

Forget conservation and sustainability, CIS has released yet another junk science report claiming that the key to reducing global CO2 emissions is lowering immigration levels in the US. CIS accuses environmentalists of frivolously focusing too much on energy conservation and efficiency and having "assiduously avoided the underlying issue of growing energy demand driven by immigration-fueled population growth." Meanwhile, US government scientists say there's insufficient evidence to draw any clear conclusion of immigration's impact on the environment. In fact, it's the DHS' crude enforcement measures that have proved most environmentally destructive.

According to CIS, immigrants would ultimately produce less CO2 if they just remained in their "less-consuming, less-industrialized, and less CO2 emitting" home countries. They even admit that the average immigrant in the US produces less CO2 than the average native-born American and that legal immigrants have a much deeper impact due to their higher incomes. It would make sense then to assume that American citizens should immigrate to lower-polluting countries in order to further reduce emissions. Based on this logic, illegal immigration isn't the problem, increased wealth and international development are.

CIS isn't the only group to blame immigrants for environmental problems--they join the ranks of hate and restrictionist groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the American Immigration Control Foundation, and the Social Contract Press. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that CIS' primary concern isn't the environment. They're only politicizing and exploiting the issue with shoddy research in order to feed their xenophobic agenda. In the meantime, CIS and its cronies are hastily retarding progress on both issues by distracting attention from the real solution to immigration and the global warming crisis.

Solving our environmental problems isn't as easy as curbing immigration to the US. Suggesting that the developing world remain in poverty so they don't increase their emissions is even more ludicrous. Ultimately, immigrants are not the problem - the US lifestyle, our systems of production and consumption and the policies that shape them are. We need real, rational solutions and leadership on environmental issues, not scapegoats.

CIS assumes that we are in a lifeboat with limited resources, and with too many people, we'll all sink. Yet when it comes to the global warming crisis, we'll all sink or swim together.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.