International Migration as an Obstacle to Achieving World Stability

This is the essay that initiated the immigration sanity movement:

International Migration as an Obstacle to Achieving World Stability

Current migration policy tends to run counter to the interests of both the country of origin and the recipient country

by John H. Tanton The Ecologist, vol.6, pp. 221-227 (1976)


[as provided on John Tanton's website by its editor]

In 1975 John Tanton's essay entitled "International Migration" placed third in the Mitchell Prize competition. The award was given during the Limits to Growth Conference in the Woodlands, Texas. The Conference was sponsored by The Club of Rome, the University of Houston, and Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. The paper became the cover story for The Ecologist, in July, 1976. This essay is the earliest formal record of John's initiating thoughts on immigration reform. The movement needed a readily reproducible handout. It now had one. This essay planted the seed from which immigration reform germinated. While his subsequent writings reveal a deeper insight, none is more prescient or pivotal. View the John Tanton video interview on the Mitchell prize essay


The migration of the educated elite from the less to the more developed countries of the world is actively encouraged by the receiving nations; but exploitation of their human resources is as damaging to the under-developed nations as the exploitation of their material resources. At a different level migrant workers seeking employment in countries richer than their own are at the mercy of the host nation’s economy. When growth rates fall and job opportunities are scarce, they are the first to be discharged, and consequently to become a burden on the welfare of the receiving country. When controls are tightened, frustrated hopes of better opportunities lead to an increase in illegal immigration. This paper was originally given at the Limits to Growth Conference 1975 and won third place in the Mitchell Prize Competition....


Read the complete essay International Migration as an Obstacle to Achieving World Stability 



by Leon Kolankiewicz

Tanton's essay won third place in the Mitchell Prize given at the Limits to Growth conference in Texas in 1975. This prize was named for the late George Mitchell, a larger-than-life figure in the American petroleum industry.

George P. Mitchell — born to Greek immigrants in Gallveston, Texas — is regarded is the father of the shale gas industryy and hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking); it was he who pioneered the so-called slick-water technique that first achieved commercial viability in the Barnett Shale formation of Texas in the late nineties. In 2000 shale gas provided only 1 percent of U.S. natural gas production, but by 2010 it had risen to over 20 percent, and was responsible for all growth in U.S. gas output, dramatically turning around a trajectory that appeared to have peaked already and was in terminal decline. Now fracking accounts for almost 40 percent of all natural gas output in the USA.

In what will strike many as a contradiction or hypocrisy, but what I see as the complexity and often multi-faceted nature of human beings -- Mitchell, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 94 -- was not just a highly successful and innovative oilman but was also very concerned about sustainability. He believed that natural gas unlocked by fracking should not be regarded as a panacea or permanent solution to our energy dilemma but as a bridge fuel to a low-carbon future, a position shared at least initially by several prominent environmental groups.

For any of you who may have visited Cape Fear in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, that is on the tip of Bald Head Island, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. Mitchell bought Bald Head Island some decades back, then developed a portion of it and preserved the rest as an ecological sanctuary. No cars are allowed on Bald Head Island. Homeowners and vacationers all get around on golf carts.

Inspired in good part by the landmark 1972 book The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al.), billionaire Mitchell collaborated with environmental scholars and leaders to inaugurate the Woodlands Conference Series on sustainability, which led to seven conferences from 1975 to 2001. He also established the George and Cynthia Mitchell Prizes for the best ideas on sustainability; over the years 38 prizes were awarded, the first ones in 1975 at the conference "Limits to Growth: The First Biennial Assessment of Limits to Growth." One of the four winners that year was Tanton's essay "International Migration and World Stability."



John Tanton website