"Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of the problem. It has to be addressed."
David Brower was a pioneer in so many ways and on so many issues. Few of us remember how early he came to the realization that human population and consumption together lead to destruction of the earths resources incuding other species.
He attributed this personal awakening to a next door neighbor, Daniel B. Luten, who observed the effects of high population while working on reconstruction in post World War II Japan. As early as 1966 Brower would state: “We [the environmental movement] feel you don’t have a conservation policy unless you have a population policy” *
Brower acted on his population views. As Sierra Club executive director, Brower approached Paul R. Ehrlich after seeing him talk on a television show to encourage him to write what became The Population Bomb. The 1968 landmark book sold three million copies in the U.S.
At the global level, Brower called on the world religions, which he noted were formed when humans numbered in the millions, to recognize that at six billion “…we have a different ball game, and its important that religions adjust their congregations’ thinking on this.”
In contrast to many current leaders he took a comprehensive approach to U.S. population stating: “The question of [United States} population is two faced: Our own population increase and that of immigration. We can ignore neither of those two aspects. We have to address them both.”
But of course both have not been addressed. Brower attributed silence on U.S. population to denial and a failure of our government, our universities, our religions and our corporations to put a major effort into addressing the question of immigration.
He particularly singled out the need for a change in the media -- influenced as it is by investor and corporate interests – “…to get the information flowing again.”
Like others calling for change in immigration policy, Brower was pro immigrant and favored sharing of resources and other means of removing poor conditions that encourage emigration. He also recognized the social benefits of immigration and encouraged migration among all countries to encourage societal learning.
Note: The preceding summary is based on a video recording of David Brower on June 13, 2000 at his home in Berkeley. All quotations except the one noted below were transcribed from that video:
A Tribute to David R. Brower 1912-2000
* Quotation from Steward L. Udall. 1963, 1988. The Quiet Crisis and the Next Generation. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books. p. 239,
Widely acclaimed ‘arch druid’ of the American Conservation movement for thirty years. Long term Sierra Club executive director and founder of Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute.
David Brower was a recognized dean of the U.S. environmental movement from the early 1940's, when he was first elected to the Sierra Club Board of Directors, through his death in 2000.