Salton SeaHigh, environmentally unsustainable rates of population growth in the Salton Sea watershed and in those parts of California hoping to siphon water out of it are the greatest medium- and long-term threats to a healthy Salton Sea.

These will cause increased nutrient inputs to the Sea, further aggravating its already hypereutrophic state. They will favor increased water diversions to coastal California, decreased Salton Sea inflows, and a shrinking and saltier Sea. They will increase the cost of the engineering projects needed to counter these trends.

High immigration rates are the greatest controllable cause of this population growth and the environmental degradation that comes with it. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that of the 122 million increase predicted for the U.S. population by 2050, immigration will account for about 80 million. That figure only includes post-2000 immigrants and their descendants.

Immigration's ImpactMost of the likely major institutions – Congress, universities, scientific societies, environmental organizations, the press – seem unable to deal with these issues openly and rationally. In too many forums one hears debate suppressed by name-calling and ad hominem attacks on the part of ideologues. Many major scientific societies and environmental organizations have bought into the “Globalist Co-pout” paradigm, the idea that American citizens should work on resolving the issue of global overpopulation, but should turn a blind eye to the issue of U.S. overpopulation.

Think globally act locally Affected by acute cognitive dissonance, these organizations actually are hurting their own agendas on other national environmental issues. Thus, we start the new millennium with the most fundamental national environmental issues being dealt with only by a small number of thick-skinned, well-centered organizations, such as CAPS, FAIR, NPG, and PEB. They operate in the best tradition of “Think globally, act locally.” Most U.S. scientific societies and environmental organizations seem stuck on “Think Globally, Talk Globally.”
Scientists, activists, state officials, NGOs, and others increasingly claim to speak and act on behalf of “humanity.” The remarkable array of circumstances in which humanity is invoked testifies to the category’s universal purchase. Yet what exactly does it mean to govern, fight, and care in the name of humanity?

In this timely collection, leading anthropologists and cultural critics grapple with that question, examining configurations of humanity in relation to biotechnologies, the natural environment, and humanitarianism and human rights. From the global pharmaceutical industry, to forest conservation, to international criminal tribunals, the domains they analyze highlight the diversity of spaces and scales at which humanity is articulated.

The ideas about humanity find concrete expression in the governing work that operationalizes those ideas to produce order, prosperity, and security. As a site of governance, humanity appears as both an object of care and a source of anxiety. Assertions that humanity is being threatened, whether by environmental catastrophe or political upheaval, provide a justification for the elaboration of new governing techniques. At the same time, humanity itself is identified as a threat (to nature, to nation, to global peace) which governance must contain.

These apparently contradictory understandings of the relation of threat to the category of humanity coexist and remain in tension, helping to maintain the dynamic co-production of governance and humanity.

Population Growth and Sustainability

Who is working for sustainability rather than just going to conferences about it? or hiding behind the skirts of “it’s not in my job description?”

Expected Increase in Population in the Salton Basin by 2020: ca. 100%and where will their toilet water flow?

Expected Increase in Population in Southern California by 2020:

 ca. 50%and where will they get their water?

Expected Increase along entire U.S.-Mexico Border by 2020:

 ca. 94% – and what will this do to the border environment?

“These population trends portend serious problems for border communities in terms of infrastructure deficits, availability of water and energy, and negative environmental impacts on water, air, and natural areas. …. Most border communities are not prepared to deal with even the best-case scenario” (SCERP, 1999; see info packet).

Expected increase in U.S. Population by 2050

 ca. 31% i.e. by 122,000,000 – or 12 x Los Angeles

– 42,000,000 due to current residents– 80,000,000 due to future immigration

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

Solution of the Salton Sea’s problems requires a large dose of political wisdom and a small dose of science and engineering.High Nutrient Inputs
Closed Basin Lake
Extreme Eutrophication

Eutrophication: the complex sequence of changes in aquatic ecosystems caused by an increased rate of supply of plant nutrients to water; in the Salton Sea, characterized by dense, colorful algal blooms and periodic poor water quality which can kill fish and other organisms.


Salton Sea in Relation to Other Lakes

Going Downhill

The trophic state of a lake is primarily determined by nutrient inputs and mean depth. Unlike other lakes shown, the Salton Sea is a closed basin lake. Its condition is thus worse than indicated by the dots representing it.

Phosphorus inputs are increasing because the human population in the Salton Sea watershed is increasing at 3-4% per year. And all municipal wastewaters in the watershed empty into streams or groundwaters that flow toward the Sea.
Lake depth will decrease in the future if there is reduction in Salton Sea inflows. This will further exacerbate the lake’s overenrichment with nutrients.

Ways to Slow and then Reverse Eutrophication

P = POSITIVE GROWTH)1. P removal from municipal waste waters in Imperial Valley

2. Outlaw P-containing detergents in Mexico

3. P removal via harvesting of tilapia for production of commercial fishmeal, a multi-decade project

4. Reduce population growth in watershed

SaltonWatershedNRapid Population Growth + California 4.4 Plan
Extreme Water Shortage
Fallowing of land, “Reclaiming” of Salton Sea inflows, Major shrinkage of Salton Sea

These processes are already underway:


SDCWA: proposed water transfers from IID
MWDSC: has requested rights to SS inflows
CVWD: has requested rights to SS inflows
Mexico: Planning ways to use New R. flows
Current Average inflows to Salton Sea

Who is Fighting High U.S. Population Growth?

Positions & votes by Congressmen on legislation affecting immigration and population growth rates

P – Position/ vote:
_ = Environment friendly, Salton Sea friendly
  = Environment hostile, Salton Sea hostile – Southern California Congressmen (Districts 40-52)

Legislative items (key below)

1 2  3  4  5 7 8
Lewis (R-40) _ _ ? ?
Kim (R-41) _ _ ? ?
Baca (D-42) ? ?
Brown (D-42) _ _ _
Calvert (R-43) _ _ _ _ ? ?
Bono, S. (R-44) _ _ _
Bono, M. (R-44) _ ? ?
Rohrabacher (R-45) _ _ _ _ _ _ ? _
Dornan (R-46) _ _
Sanchez (D-46) ? ?
Cox (R-47) _ _ ? _
Packard (R-48) _ _ _ _ _ _
Bilbray (R-49) _ _ _ _ _ ? _
Filner (D-50) _ _ ? ?
Cunningham (R-51) _ _ _ _ ? _
Hunter (R-52) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

California Senators

Boxer (D) (analysis in process)

Feinstein (D) (analysis in process)

1. Chrysler et al. amendment to HR 2202: killed much needed legal forms, allowing endless chain migration of extended families and continued high immigration rates.
2. Gallegly et al. amendment to H.R.2202 – 104th Congress: would have established a mandatory employment verification system in 5 states heavily impacted by illegal immigration.
3. Pombo/Chambliss amendment to HR2202: would have granted as many as 250,000 temporary farm worker visas without adequate mechanisms to assure repatriation.
4. McCollum amendment to HR2202: would have instructed government to make the Social Security card tamper-proof and thereby greatly assisted slowing of illegal immigration.
5. Rohrabacher amendment to HR2202: would have prevented permanent extension of legal loophole that allowed illegal aliens to obtain legal status.
6. HR3736: raised the number of skilled foreign temporary workers allowed into U.S. from 65,000 to 115, 000 with no effective mechanism to assure their repatriation.
7. HR41: imposes temporary limits on most categories of immigration and restores immigration to lower historical levels. Pending.
8. HR73: would deny automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens. Pending.


Any voter concerned about the Salton Sea or, indeed, about environmental degradation in the U.S. in general will appreciate those votes or positions symbolized by green flowers. This will be doubly true for anyone who agrees we should be thinking and planning in terms of our grandchildren’s generation. There are many factors to weigh in any piece of legislation, but it should be disappointing to the public that 40 percent of the votes tallied above favor maintaining or increasing our high growth rate. This currently is greater than that of any other industrialized nation. The Salton Sea would have a better chance of surviving to 2050 if we didn’t add many tens of millions of thirsty people to California’s and the nation’s population over the next decades. Concerned citizens will try to steer those black question marks toward environmentally responsible outcomes.

Distribution and Numbers of Immigrants,1996

ImmigrantDistribution“From the founding of the republic to the mid-1920s, U.S. immigration was largely unrestricted, but shortly thereafter Congress passed legislation severely limiting entry from all regions except northwestern Europe. Beginning in 1965 and continuing thereafter, it passed a series of more liberal laws, including the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986, under which 2.7 million illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico, were given legal immigrant status. The new laws not only promoted diversity but also opened the door to the longest and largest wave of immigration ever–27 million since 1965, including illegal entries….

“In 1996, a more or less typical year, there were 916,000 legal immigrants plus an estimated 275,000 who came illegally….

“The U.S. population will grow enormously, absent a drastic reduction in immigration. A big drop in immigration does not seem imminent in view of pressures from many ethnic groups, which generally support a heterogeneous society, and from employers who depend on low-wage labor. The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest projection, which assumes a continuation of recent immigration and emigration levels over the next half a century, puts the U.S. population at 394 million in 2050. Of the 122 million increase between now and then, 80 million would be added because of immigration.”

Excerpted from “U.S. Immigration” by R. Doyle, Scientific American, September 9, 1999.

A Crime Whose Name We Dare Not Speak?

President Clinton, 1998 Despite massive illegal immigration, there will be no massive deportations. Most of the illegals here now will be allowed to stay; most of those who come later will also be allowed to stay.


“The betrayal of any trust or confidence; breach of faith” – Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1956

Political Candidates, 2000

No opinions on the subject? Perhaps someone should ask …..

The Globalist Cop-out

The Globalist Cop-out states that since overpopulation is a global problem, the ways of dealing with it must be primarily global or international in nature. It is ok for individual nations to attempt to control their own birth rates. But they should not control or reduce their immigration rates, even if immigration is the major cause of their population growth. It would be “unfair” if one country were able to stabilize its population well ahead of other countries, especially if it were an industrialized western country. So goes the “reasoning.”

The U.S., for example, should deal with its population problem by ameliorating the social, political, and economic problems in the rest of the world that cause so many to attempt to come here. Then, in some later century or millenium, they will prefer to stay home.
The Globalist Cop-out is a device used in the U.S. primarily by four groups of people:
1) as a mantra by the saintly innocents, who claim the moral high ground with vague references to “human rights”, “social justice”, etc. and who are apparently truly without understanding of the consequences of the open border or high immigration policies they advocate;
2) as a smokescreen by those who want high immigration rates so they will have a good supply of cheap labor:
3) as a smokescreen by those who want high immigration rates, but usually only for their own “group”, however defined, in order to increase its political power; and
4) as an excuse for inaction by those afflicted by el fenómeno microcojónico, a condition especially widespread among university academics, environmental organizations, scientific societies, other professional organizations, and to a lesser extent among the general public.

This condition is characterized by acute cognitive dissonance. That results from full awareness of the problems posed by high immigration, guilt feelings over their luck in being U.S citizens, and great fear of being called names in public. The epithets favored by the attack dogs are “racist”, “nativist”, and “xenophobe”. The attack dogs come mostly from the three other groups. But even microcojónicos, after enough coffee and/or Viagra, have been known to “go postal” on persons who raise immigration issues.

By far the largest and most influential group, it is the microcojónicos who are the primary obstacle to stabilization of the U.S. population and the long-term health of the Salton Sea, the Colorado River and its delta, and other environments of California and Baja California, among thousands of other ecosystems in decline.

Prime Practitioners of The Globalist Cop-out

There are so many, choosing is hard! But below we give brief synopses of the cop-out stances of one political party, one scientific society, and one environmental organization.

 The Green Party of California

This paragon of saintly innocence claims to advocate protection of the environment more strongly than do other political parties. Their internet website presents a detailed platform on population and immigration issues. It refers to that majority of the U.S. population favoring reductions in immigration as being “xenophobic” and “reactionary.” As usual, such shameless rhetoric is a smokescreen for hiding weak arguments and forestalling reasoned debates the name-callers would be likely to lose.

The website says that even “militaristic fortification of the border” will not stop illegal immigration, that illegal immigrants do not displace native workers, and that they have a positive effect on the economy. Therefore the U.S. should provide full social and educational services to illegal immigrants and should not penalize persons or companies who employ them. The Party acknowledges that the population of California is expected to double in 30 years. It does not even hint that legal and illegal immigration are primary drivers of this increase.
The Greens are giving the Democrats and Republicans stiff competition for the Masters of Myopia Prize.

The Ecological Society of America

Composed of scientists who study deserts, prairies, and forests, lakes, rivers and oceans, the plants, animals and microbes that inhabit them, and the influence on them of man’s activities, this is the largest and most diverse group of environmental scientists in the U.S. There is no group more knowledgeable about the relation between U.S. population growth and environmental degradation. But this society has shirked all responsibility for doing anything about it.
In 1991 it published The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: An Ecological Research Agenda” (Ecology 72:371-412). As a research agenda and request for more funds for research, it is fine. But as stated by Ludwig et al. (Ecol. Applications 3:547-555), “Such a claim that basic research will lead to sustainable use of resources in the face of a growing human population may lead to a false complacency: instead of addressing the problems of population and excessive use of resources, we may avoid such difficult issues by spending money on basic ecological research.”

The document addresses the global population issue briefly and says nothing whatsoever about U.S. population growth (despite coming from a U.S. organization).

A few years later it was suggested that the society prepare another white paper that dealt specifically with U.S. population growth, its causes and environmental impacts. The suggestion was turned down. The nation clearly cannot count on such academic-dominated societies of microcojónicos to speak or act in the national interest on difficult topics – except perhaps in exchange for more research funds. Fortunately, the civic role they fear to play has been assumed by other organizations. These include Population-Environment Balance, Negative Population Growth, Californians for Population Stabilization, Federation for Immigration Reform, and the Carrying Capacity Network, to name a few.

The Sierra Club Board of Directors

Until 1996 the Sierra Club, a U.S. environmental organization, advocated stabilization of the U.S. population via reduction in both rate of natural increase and immigration rates. In 1996 its Board of Directors and its so-called “Environmental Justice Committee” decided that population was a global problem and that the Club should have no position on U.S. immigration levels and policies.
Through a petition process, those wishing to have a policy in favor of reduced immigration levels forced the Board of Directors to have a membership-wide vote on the issue.

Using tactics that would make Gordon Liddy proud, the Board of Directors organized a campaign of disinformation and dirty tricks. These, ad hominem attacks on initiative proponents as “racists” and “migrant bashers”, and membership apathy, defeated the initiative. Voting took place in April 1998 – 6% were in favor, 9% were against, and 85% of the members didn’t vote.
In his victory press release, Sierra Club President Carl Pope crowed, “Our members have shown they understand that restricting immigration into the United States will not solve the environmental problems caused by global overpopulation” – as if the global scale is the only or most effective one at which the problem can be dealt with!

The cognitive dissonance underlying such amazing statements has been nicely analyzed in an article,Cry, the Overcrowded Country by Diana Hull (The Social Contract, Summer 1999; in your information packet).

California Population Growth

The Big Picture In Two Facts

1. Population projections indicate that in about 30 years, California will be as densely populated as China is now (137 persons per sq km)
2. Foreign immigration contributed 96% of California’s population growth from 1990 to 1997a.
a. See CAPS website (http://www.cap-s.org/media.html) for data and calculations. Foreign immigration is calculated as new immigrants plus births to immigrants, both legal and illegal, adjusted for deaths and out-migration to other states.

SierraClubLogoLeader in the Globalist Cop-out Movement

(in defiance of its motto)

A Sierra Club ballot issue

Should the Sierra Club advocate limiting immigration to stabilize the U.S. population and protect the environment?

Attack by politically correct ostriches

Adam Werbach, National Sierra Club President
“There is no place for the Sierra Club to be involved in blaming immigrants for environmental problems…”

Peter Andersen, SDSU Professor, Sierra Club, SD Chapter
“This type of Draconian measure to close the door behind us and not let any more people in is not the solution.”

Armando Soto Mayer, Sierra Club, LA Chapter
This ballot is “an issue of racism”

Carl Pope, National Sierra Club Executive Director
“If we do not solve our population crisis globally we will not solve it at all.”

Original Abstract

Current proposals for solving the problems of the Salton Sea all fall short of the mark. They are classic examples of the idea of a technological fix, the idea that scientists and engineers can provide the solution to what are fundamentally social and political problems. When called to the rescue, the scientists and engineers are happy to look for these technological fixes on behalf of the politicians, who usually need to claim “progress made” before the next election cycle.

The scientists and engineers know the fixes will not help much in the long run, and may even delay attention to the real problems. But a “fix search” can provide a job, research funds, per diem for travel to interesting places and conferences, and other perks. So we are happy to oblige, to be ‘good soldiers’ and not question orders. To avoid offense, to maintain our positions, and to keep the funds flowing, we refrain from pointing out to the politicians the lack of vision and courage that keeps them from dealing with the important issues. This poster attempts to depart from these self-serving and myopic traditions.

The long-term health of the Salton Sea requires four things: removal of salts, continued large inflows of waste-waters, some additional freshwater inputs for dilution purposes, and removal of phosphorus from the Sea at a rate faster than it is coming in. However, the last three of these will be very difficult if not impossible given the high rate of population growth, especially in California, Arizona, and Baja California. Should large amounts be invested in the proposed technological fixes for the Sea if the politicians are not willing, at the same time, to begin dealing with the social and political issue of population management so that the ‘fixes’ can bear real fruit?

In the U.S., population growth is driven primarily by immigration. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that under current immigration policies, immigration will account for about 80 million of the 122 million increase in the U.S. population predicted for 2050. Increasing population and increasing environmental degradation go hand in hand. In a very real sense, immigration is the greatest controllable cause of environmental problems in the U.S., including those confronting the Salton Sea. Our high average standard of living (nice cars, nice homes, nice industries, nice agriculture, nice daily showers, etc.) is a bigger cause, of course, but even the ‘greenest’ individuals seem disinclined to give up much of this.

The poster presents a collage of information on problems of eutrophication and water supply at the Salton Sea, their relation to population growth and immigration, the failures of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government to deal effectively with immigration issues, and the smear tactics and cognitive dissonance with which some organizations attempt to suppress rational discussion of them.

An information packet with materials from different organizations on these issues will be available to symposium registrants. A resolution for forwarding to the President and Congress of the United States will also be available for signing by interested persons. This will present the Salton Sea as just one example of the collision between high rates of population growth and the need to reduce environmental degradation, and will ask for appropriate government action, so that expenditures on engineering projects at the Salton Sea, among other places, have a chance of purchasing more than white elephants. [The idea of a resolution was not implemented.]




Salton Sea Project Office

SEPS Scientists and Environmentalists

The Social Contract

Duke University Press

Population Growth and The Salton Sea Thumbprints


The College of Sciences – San Diego State University

Sierra Club leader departs amid discontent over group’s …

Sierra Club Leader Will Step Down – NYTimes.com

The Sierra Club’s Carl Pope – PBS

Sierra Club – Undue Influence

Salton Sea | lisa’s leaks

The Salton Sea: Death and Politics in the Great America …

The Dying Sea