Magazine article E Magazine

Poverty, Population and Power. (Advice & Dissent: Letters from Our Readers)

Magazine article E Magazine

Poverty, Population and Power. (Advice & Dissent: Letters from Our Readers)

Article excerpt

At last, a major environmental publication dares to deal with the facts of U.S. population growth ("The Gold Crush," cover story, November/December 2001). For years, I've watched as pro-immigration groups have made rational discussion impossible by crying "racism." Yet, as you point out, the greatest factor in our out-of-control immigration is corporate America. Seeking cheap labor, they have achieved third world working conditions in the meatpacking and agriculture industries. Barbara Ehrenreich's recent book Nickel and Dimed shows that an over-abundance of workers makes a living wage impossible all across working-class America.

In the meantime, many liberals support high immigration, ostensibly because they want to share the middle-class American lifestyle. However, they are also getting cheap household and other labor, plus an excuse to avoid cutting back on profligate consumption and waste. Sometimes it seems as if middle-class liberals' greatest fear is the epithet "racist"; mainstream media are so affected by this fear that population pressures are almost never mentioned.

E however, has opened the subject up and treated it in a balanced, well-informed way.

Olivia Eielson
Oakland, CA

Congratulations on your honest coverage of population growth and its negative effects on the environment. Other media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, are advocating that we essentially open our borders. But they don't look at the downside of population growth. And it's no surprise, since media companies are motivated by readership, not the environment.

The trouble is that the destruction of habitat and the rise in respiratory illnesses are directly related to population growth, which is driven by immigration. So what happens if the five billion people who are making $1 a day could come to America at will? In 50 years, every city in the U.S. would have the air quality of Mexico City and our beaches would be septic tanks. We ought to be able to help other countries without destroying our own.

Tim Truby
Redondo Beach, CA

The cover story and interview with Roy Beck are right on track. In southern Massachusetts, where I live, we have had only a seven percent increase in population growth in the last decade, but even that growth is destroying our forests and farmlands, crowding our schools and making us short of water. …

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