Deputy Director’s Corner

Deputy Director’s Corner
NPG Deputy Director Tracy Canada can be reached by email at tcanada@npg.org.

As I review the headlines on all of the global media networks, I cannot help but see a disturbing trend. 
I read story after story of the devastating social, economic, and environmental crises happening all over the world…  and they all have something in common.  Whether it’s a direct cause – or simply a contributing factor making things much, much worse…

…the stories all relate to population growth.

The first article which caught my attention was a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which announced that so far in 2016, temperatures have surpassed all pre-existing global records for heat.  “For 2016 year to date… the average temperature for the globe was 2.07 degrees F above the 20th-century average…  This was the highest temperature for this period in the 1880-2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015….”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average U.S. temperature will increase by between 3°F to 12°F by the end of this century.  Worse yet, if global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase, U.S. summertime temperatures “that ranked among the hottest 5% in 1950-1979 will occur at least 70% of the time by 2035-2064.”

NPG has long drawn the links between population growth, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.  (For more information, you can review the following NPG President’s Column articles on these subjects:  Fuel Efficiency and Emissions, Climate Change and U.S. Energy Infrastructure, and U.S. Population Size and Climate Change.)  As our human numbers grow and continue to contribute to climate change, we face much more dire consequences than hotter temperatures:  

  • Atlantic hurricanes are expected to strengthen and intensify as the oceans warm – increasing the number of the strongest Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.  Extreme weather events will become even more commonplace.  
  • “Heavy downpours that currently occur about once every 20 years are projected to occur between twice and five times as frequently by 2100….”  More catastrophic flooding, lives lost, and costly damages to property can be expected.
  • As more Arctic ice and glaciers melt, sea levels will continue to rise – the EPA predicting by as much as 1-4 feet by 2100 – which will change the coastlines around the world.  A recent article from CNN highlighted the complete loss of 5 of the Solomon Islands due to rising seas. 
  • If recent trends continue, a 2-foot rise in global sea level by 2100 would result in the following sea level rises in the U.S.:  2.3 feet – New York City (Population 8.5 million), 2.9 feet – Hampton Roads, VA (Area Population 1.7 million), and 3.5 feet – Galveston, TX (Area Population 6.3 million).  Other major U.S. cities like New Orleans and Miami – as well as most of the state of Florida – are at serious risk if sea levels continue to climb.

If our population continues to grow, more people will face risk from these climate-change-related events.  And our growing population continues to place an ever-greater strain on the environment – further contributing to climate change.

It is a desperate cycle.  And we must act now to break it by reducing our population size and growth.

While these environmental consequences of overpopulation are mounting, the world is calling upon every nation to admit hundreds of thousands of refugees – and each country must weigh both the humanitarian need and the population implications.  As reported by Amnesty International, an estimated 4.5 million refugees have already sought sanctuary in neighboring countries.  The influx has been so enormous, several European nations have tightened border controls and imposed restrictions on admissions.  These countries have faced sharp criticism for attempting to regulate their admissions of migrants.  Yet they are the ones who will have to reallocate their own limited resources in order to feed, clothe, house, employ, and educate millions of asylum-seekers.  While the refugees’ need is urgent, we must not vilify the reasonable practice of reviewing and managing even humanitarian immigration admissions.  

NPG has long held that humanitarian admissions should absolutely be permitted each year in the U.S.  Our proposed limit of annual legal admissions – a total of 200,000 per year – allows for 30,000 permanent admissions of “refugees, asylees and displaced persons that in the strictest sense are in mortal peril and have no other options.”  Our proposal also allows for up to 50,000 temporary (not more than one year) humanitarian migrant admissions each year.  NPG agrees that our nation must act as a sanctuary for those in the greatest need.  But we cannot – and we must not – yield to the short-sighted temptation to annually admit hundreds of thousands of refugees, and hundreds of thousands of workers, and hundreds of thousands of family members, and, and, and

The consequences of such acquiescence have always been – and will continue to be – damaging to our nation’s environment, economy, and quality of life. 

NPG is continuing to lead the way, drawing the links between population growth and today’s headlines focused on immigration, climate change, birthright citizenship, fracking, sanctuary cities, water shortages, etc.  With your help, we’re working harder than ever to reach a growing audience with the real facts about population growth.  We’re going full steam ahead for the rest of the year, distributing our Population Perspectives Newsletter, as well as a new Forum paper by Ed Rubenstein titled The Impact of Refugees on the Size and Security of the U.S. Population that will be coming out within the next few weeks.  And over the next few months, we have even more planned!

We thank all of our supporters like you.  Remember – NPG receives absolutely no government funding of any kind.  We rely entirely on you – your loyal dedication and generous financial support – to continue our critical mission.  Your contributions go directly towards our vital educational and outreach programs, getting our valuable materials into the hands of America’s students, teachers, elected officials, journalists, and the public.  We appreciate your activism, and your continued support of NPG.

Thank you again for all you do!

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Tracy Henke

Tracy Henke served as Deputy Director of NPG from 2012 to 2017, contributing to the structure and development of NPG’s publications programs. Acting as NPG’s principal editor and a contributing author – as well as a regular contact for the public and media, Tracy extensively researched U.S. population issues and worked to establish significant grassroots support for the NPG mission. She holds a degree in Leadership & Social Change from Virginia Tech, with a professional background in non-profit and program management.

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