No, Mass Immigration Won’t Save the Planet

One of the more head-scratching concepts pitched by many open borders proponents recently is the idea that unchecked immigration is somehow the key to solving climate change. A recent column published in Vox’s “Future Perfect” section argues that “slower population growth might paradoxically make it harder to pull off [lower carbon emissions].” The solution, according to the author, is to make it a “national priority” to drastically increase immigration into the United States.

This isn’t the first time this concept has been floated. In his 2020 book titled “One Billion Americans,” mass immigration apologist Matthew Yglesias makes the case that the United States should strive to triple its population. His concept is quite simple – everyone who wants to come to America should be allowed to come here, and that will somehow make us richer, and opt for more responsible climate policies. Other far left groups, such as ThinkProgress, have long suggested that more immigration is needed to combat climate change.

If these ideas don’t add up in your mind, it’s because they are completely divorced from reality. It’s nothing more than an irrational attempt by mass immigration advocates to convince the public, primarily those who are both concerned about climate change and support higher levels of immigration, that they can have their cake and eat it too. In reality, unplanned mass immigration is a major contributor to both carbon emissions and the decimation of sensitive ecosystems in the United States.

The average migrant in the United States produces four times more CO2 than they did in their country of origin. Much of this stems from the economic standing of most migrants increasing significantly once they come to America. While this is a great thing for those seeking to escape poverty, the carbon emissions threatening our stratosphere don’t make exceptions for heartwarming success stories. In fact, it is estimated that the impact of unchecked migration on global emissions is responsible for approximately 5 percent of the increase in annual world-wide CO2 emissions between 1980 and 2008.

The primary reason that these migrants produce such high emissions isn’t necessarily that they are bad people who don’t care about the environment. Instead, the issue is that immigration into the United States is not properly planned or managed by our own government, which has led to a drastic increase in recent decades. This poor planning results in a phenomenon known as urban sprawl – when cities inefficiently grow outward and eat up the countryside surrounding urban centers. FAIR has found that immigration-fueled sprawl has severely damaged sensitive eco-systems and drastically increased carbon emissions in states like Florida.

This analysis is further confirmed by peer-reviewed scientific analysis on the environmental impact of urban sprawl. According to a study published in IOP Science, this kind of unplanned population growth is detrimental to both the climate and localized ecosystems. “Growth in urban population increases urban transportation (growth in motor vehicles), which directly spur energy consumption, especially from oil and gas,” the study notes. “This growth cycle between urban sprawl and urban transportation increases both ecological and carbon footprint, hence, escalating emissions.” This research also found that proper city planning significantly reduced climate risks by allowing for the implementation of more sustainable urban development.

The first step to implementing a sustainable immigration system is to set limits on how many people can immigrate here each year. It’s also imperative that state and local governments have a say in this process so that they can properly predict urban growth well into the future. The next step is to secure our border and cut off magnets for illegal immigration, which is an even less predictable form of immigration.

The science is clear, our current mass immigration policies are further harming the environment, not saving it. If climate activists and environmental groups are truly interested in doing everything possible to protect natural resources and fight climate change, then promoting science-backed, sustainable immigration practices must be a part of those efforts.

"Spencer Raley : Spencer joined FAIR in 2015. He oversees the numerous qualitative and quantitative research efforts conducted by FAIR and writes content for publication on FAIR’s website and outside media organizations. Previously, Spencer worked in gubernatorial campaigns and political nonprofits, covered politics at the federal and state levels as a freelance writer, and worked as a legislative aide in the Texas State Legislature. Spencer holds a Master of Science in Data Analytics from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.."