Colorado State University professor Phil Cafaro recently gave a talk in Fort Collins to promote his book, Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. He frames the book as a brave attempt to break the silence imposed by politically correct norms to address issues of population. But the book is far from brave, and instead of confronting difficult conversations, it shifts the burden and blame for environmental degradation from those most responsible to those most likely to suffer the consequences.
Cafaro has extensive ties to the anti-immigrant movement in the US, and unsurprisingly the volume he co-edited features several prominent nativist authors arguing for a drastic reduction of immigration in order to protect the environment.
Despite Cafaro’s popularity among anti-immigrant activists, at least one person in attendance at the event opposed Cafaro’s nativist agenda, asking tough questions and sharing a pamphlet titled “Back from the Brink: Ten Reasons to Challenge the Greening of Hate.”
In the pamphlet, published by PopDev this spring, author Betsy Hartmann unpacks ten myths about immigrants and environmental destruction. She takes on the main claims behind Cafaro’s new book, from the assertion that immigrants cause traffic jams to the much broader argument that population growth is the main cause of environmental destruction.
“Typically, anti-immigrant groups move seamlessly from portraying immigrants as an environmental burden to painting them as an economic burden on taxpayers, schools, hospitals and other public services.
This disinformation campaign not only reinforces racism and nativism, it obscures the real causes of environmental problems. We need to dispel these myths in order to build a just and sustain- able future. Here are ten reasons to challenge the greening of hate.”
Following the vision of John Tanton, the anti-immigrant movement has, for years, attempted to disrupt support for immigration by framing their anti-immigrant messaging around key issues that liberal or progressive groups may champion for. The Tanton Network has produced a cadre of front groups to sway environmentalists, African-Americans, Catholics, and Latinos toward their nativist platform.
Hartmann’s “Back from the Brink” is essential reading for those interested in a sincere and difficult conversation about climate change, population, and the environment. And a crucial anti-dote to Cafaro’s disinformation campaign.