CAPS on The Environment and Population Growth: Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson Warned About Smear Tactics


CAPS on The Environment and Population Growth: Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson Warned About Smear Tactics

Published on April 21st, 2021

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Ventura, CA (April 21, 2021) Over a half century ago, Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as a catalyst to spur environmental protection. The environmental group Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) notes that Nelson adamantly warned about the dangers of population growth. As a Wisconsin Senator, Nelson also understood the dangers of smear tactics fomented by another Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy. Below are some excerpts from his 2002 autobiography, Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise, in which he warns about both dangers:

“Stabilizing our population will be key to determining our success or failure…. We have a problem here at home.yet we won’t stabilize our population as long as immigrants to the United States continue to add 1.3 million people to the population each year – 300,000 of them entering the country illegally…. Until we address this growing influx of immigrants, … the population will continue to grow indefinitely despite the nation’s success at achieving a replacement level birthrate.

Never has an issue with such major consequences for this country been so ignored. Never before has there been such a significant failure by the president, Congress, and the political infrastructure to address such an important problem. We are faced with the most important challenge of our time – the challenge of sustainability – and we refuse to confront it. 

The reason for this silence is simple…. To bring a halt to exponential growth, the number of legal immigrants entering this country would have to match the number of emigrants leaving it – about 220,000 people per year. Yet, while federal actions have increased the immigration rate dramatically, … any suggestion that the rate be decreased to some previously acceptable level is met with charges of “nativism,” “racism,” and the like. Unfortunately, such opposition has silenced much-needed discussion of the issue – recalling the smear tactics of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. The first time around it was “soft on communism.” This time the charge is “racism.” Demagogic rhetoric of this sort has succeeded in silencing the environmental and academic communities and has tainted any discussion of population and immigration issues as “politically incorrect”…. It is nothing short of astonishing to see the great American free press, with its raft of syndicated columnists, frightened into silence by political correctness.

The issue is not racism, nativism, or any other “ism,” however. The real issue: numbers of people and the implications for freedom of choice and sustainability as our numbers continue to grow.”

* Take CAPS’ Earth Day quiz on the environment, population, and immigration.

* View a two-minute video on the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day and founder Gaylord Nelson.

* CAPS will participate in the 2021 Virtual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival—April 22, 23, and 24.


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