Response to Inaccuracies in the Colbert Report’s Commentary on CAPS TV Ad

Published on April 26th, 2012

There’s no doubt Steve Colbert is funny at least some of the time. But in the case of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) Earth Day TV ad, he crossed the line into slanderous innuendo. And that isn’t funny. Here are a couple places where Colbert got the facts mixed up:

The purpose of CAPS national TV campaign was to call attention to the fact that mass immigration to the U.S. is driving population growth which is expanding the country’s already massive carbon footprint. Because of our high standard of living individual Americans have a much higher carbon footprint than other people around the world.

From the original CIS report (at http://www.cis.org/GreenhouseGasEmissions ) coauthored by Leon Kolankiewicz with Steve Camarota:

“The estimated CO2 emissions of the average immigrant (legal or illegal) in the United States are 18 percent less than those of the average native-born American.”

Nowhere is it stated, either implicitly or explicitly, as implied by Colbert in bombastic character, that immigrants and immigrants alone are to blame for greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Immigration is the primary cause of continuing rapid US population growth with no end in sight, and this population growth is the primary reason for upward pressure on our CO2 emissions. This is unassailable, and no attempts at cheap humor and cheap shots by a sometime funnyman can negate the truth.

From the CIS study’s conclusion:

“Some may be tempted to see this analysis as ‘blaming immigrants’ for what are really America’s failures. It is certainly reasonable to argue that Americans could do much more to reduce per capita emissions. And it is certainly not our intention to imply that immigrants are particularly responsible for global warming. As we report in this study, immigrants produce somewhat less CO2 on average than native-born Americans. But to simply dismiss the large role that continuing high levels of immigration play in increasing U.S. and world-wide CO2 emissions is not only intellectually dishonest, it is also counter-productive…The effect of immigration is certainly not trivial.”

Perhaps Colbert and his writers never reached this conclusion, or more probably, they chose to ignore it because it didn’t fit their joke’s narrative that this is about supposed xenophobes ‘blaming immigrants’ for everything under the sun. In any case, they chose to trivialize a serious subject.

Because of American’s proclivity for conspicuous consumption, most environmentalists understand that population growth in the United States affects the environment here and also worldwide. However, many environmentalists won’t talk about the fact that immigration is the number one factor driving U.S. population growth. It’s intellectually dishonest to think we can address population growth without addressing mass immigration.

Also, CAPS is not affiliated with CIS but we understand that the group is regularly called on to testify before Congress about matters related to immigration. Their polls are routinely publicized and their principals regularly interviewed by some of America’s largest news outlets from NPR to USA Today.

Our organization is also not affiliated with John Tanton in any way, and using the biased SPLC as a credible information source on this topic is ridiculous. Among many other absurdities, SPLC has accused even the founder of Earth Day of “the greening of hate;” that would be the late Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and 2-term governor of that state, and a respected liberal icon. He merited this calumny simply because he kept telling the truth about immigration, population, and the environment until the day he died.

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