Of the millions who claim to be deadly serious about Saving the World from global warming by limiting carbon emissions, how many are truly sincere?
There’s one surefire test: Do they demand reductions in immigration to the U.S.?
Answer: almost none of them do.
A Google search for “carbon emissions” brings up 3,680,000 web pages. (August 8, 2010). Add “immigration reduction” to the search, however, and the hit count falls to 114. [Try it yourself now by clicking here.]
The causes of global warning are disputed, but let’s assume for the sake of analysis that human output of “greenhouse gases” does indeed cause global warming. It ought to be close to self-evident that immigration to America increases this country’s—and the world’s—output of those gases.
The logic is very simple: If immigrants from poor countries successfully assimilate to American norms of earning and consuming, they, and their descendants, will emit vastly more carbon than if they had stayed home.
According to the UN’s International Energy Agency, residents of America in 2007 put out an average of 19.1 tons of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by fossil fuel combustion—e.g., by driving around, by being warm in winter and cool in summer, and by watching TV.
In contrast, the residents of, say, Mexico each emit 4.1 tons per year. In other words, the typical inhabitant of America churns out 4.6 times as much carbon dioxide as the typical inhabitant of Mexico.
So, if an average Mexican immigrates to the U.S. and fully assimilates to average American patterns of earning and spending, he will emit 4.6 times as much carbon dioxide as if he stayed home in his own country. (Even more important are the impact of his descendants, which we’ll get to below).
This table gives a sampling of the carbon emissions per capita of immigrant importing and exporting countries.
... So let’s examine some logical objections to my argument for the benefit of global warming worriers.
Consider a very simplified model in which an immigrant from Mexico will either succeed or fail at assimilating to American norms on two dimensions: Earning and Consuming.
Let’s start with the upper left hand corner of this quadrant: American Dream. In this scenario, the typical Mexican who immigrates to the U.S. achieves the American Dream. He succeeds at consuming like an American (e.g., big SUV, big air-conditioned house in the suburbs, big TV, and so forth) and also (this is important) earning like an American. Therefore, his contribution to global greenhouse gas emission will be vastly greater than if he stayed home in Mexico. Even more importantly, so will his descendants’ carbon emissions. ...
In the lower left corner is the unspoken liberal assumption about the impact of Mexican immigration: Ecotopia. This logical possibility is the favorite of the sort of white liberals who have farm simulators on their iPhones. Of course, it is the least logical or possible.
They assume Mexican immigrants rapidly achieve American levels of income to pay the taxes for all the social programs that progressives favor. Yet, for unexplained reasons, the Mexican immigrants and their progeny choose to live like Portland trustfunders whose hobby is a “sustainable” lifestyle based on driving their vegetable oil-powered Toyota Prius hybrid to Whole Foods for heirloom tomatoes.
The Ecotopia assumption is the only logical way to square enthusiasm about immigration with alarmism about greenhouse gases.
Of course, ...
Read the whole thing there (including data on the burning question of how many Priuses do Mexicans buy) and comment upon it here.