Ethics

Immigration and Population Limits

by on January 04, 2019 2 comments

Our civilization is threatened by our voracious consumption. Mother Nature has applied the same remedy to 99 percent of all species that have graced the Earth since life began three billion years or so ago – Extinction. The extinct 99 percent each multiplied until natural systems no longer supported them, and their numbers then shrank, either suddenly like the dinosaurs, or more slowly.

Homo Sapiens, our own beautiful, intelligent species, has harnessed Earth’s land, air and water to our own needs with a speed and thoroughness unprecedented in life’s three billion years. For decades science has told us that human numbers and our applied technologies were changing the natural systems which have supported 10,000 years of civilizations, and that the changes were probably not benign. Human-generated greenhouse gasses have warmed the planet and started a cascade of effects, including new weather patterns and a warmer, chemically altered ocean.

This leads into the current arguments about immigration into the United States. President Trump has pushed for a wall to make the southern border less porous.  His administration aggressively  separated adults who enter the country illegally from their minor children, but has backed off his family-separation policy as voters protested young children forcibly separated from their mothers. The issue is balancing the compassion we naturally feel for those fleeing violence and want with the need to protect Americans here.

Violence and populations which exceed available resources are reality for billions of people, and those numbers are growing. Ethically and through religion many  believe that the life  of a two-year-old girl in a Mexico barrio is as valuable as the life of a child born in Omaha. But our Earth has limits,  and the United States and other wealthy countries cannot, and  probably are not willing, to protect all the world’s hungry two-year olds.  Americans, through the efforts of generations of workers and luck were born and raised amidst prosperity, but they cannot wave a magic wand and give enough to all the world’s needy.

Long-term, two unpleasant processes are needed to defer Home Sapiens’ reckoning with the consequences of modern numbers and lifestyles. Somehow death rates need to exceed birth rates, which is already happening in some European and American populations. Second, per capita consumption of natural resources needs to decline, particularly in the most wealthy countries like the United States.

Where are our Eagles who will make this happen?  Mother Nature is watching, and she bats last.

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