About John Tanton, M.D.

John H. Tanton, M.D.

John H. Tanton, M.D. is a self-made man who has dedicated his life to helping others and preserving our environment for future generations. He is deeply concerned not only about the world we live in today, but the world that our grandchildren will inherit.

John Tanton is a country boy who was raised on a family farm where he developed a love of the land and an understanding of our relationship to our sustaining natural environment and the planet upon which we live - values that would serve him well over his lifetime.

Instilled with solid family values, John chose a career of helping others. He obtained his medical degree in ophthalmology in 1964 and spent his career as an Opthalmologist at the Burns Clinic Medical Center, Petoskey, Michigan until he retired in 1998.

John Tanton and his wife, Mary Lou Tanton, have always valued their relationship to the Earth. Having decided early on that they wanted to live near a rural environment, they chose to live in Petoskey where they could be close to nature and still be active in their community. While it was natural for them to cultivate their own vegetable garden, John's life-long hobby of bee keeping was somewhat less common. John learned to keep bees from his grandfather and still marvels at their complexity.


(To view the complete video series, see www.JohnTanton.org/video/video.html)


Growing up on a family farm made John into an ardent conservationist and advocate for the environment. In addition to a demanding medical career, he has been actively involved in numerous environmental organizations, including:  

  • Michigan Natural Areas Council, Secretary, 1962-1963
  • Bear River Development Commission, City of Petoskey, Organizer and Chairman, 1965-1972
  • Petoskey Regional Audubon Society, Co-organizer and President, 1967 and 1969
  • Hartwick Pines Natural History Association, Organizer and President, 1969-1972
  • Sierra Club, Petoskey Regional Group, Organizer and Chairman, 1970-1972
  • Sierra Club, National Long-range Planning Committee, Member, 1970-1973
  • League of Conservation Voters, 11th Congressional District, Organizer, 1970-1974
  • Governor's Advisory Council on Natural Areas, Member, 1971-1972 (appointed by Governor W. Milliken)
  • Wilderness and Natural Areas Advisory Board, Department of Natural Resources, Member, 1972-1975 (gubernatorial appointment)
  • Plaintiff, Tanton vs. DNR, an environmental lawsuit, 1971-1972
  • Little Traverse Group, Co-organizer and Executive Committee Member, 1972-1988, President, 1979-1981
  • Little Traverse Conservancy, Co-organizer and Board Member, 1972-1988, President, 1979-1981
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Advisory Commission, 1978-1980, Chairman,1980 (appointment by Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus)


John's understanding of our intricate relationship with our natural environment expanded over the years, resulting in his realization that as human population expanded exponentially, our impact on our planet was becoming increasingly severe. He also realized that our population growth was being driven by mass immigration, as American women had reached replacement level fertility (children per woman) in 1972.

John therefore began to expand his focus to address the immigration-population issue. This focus included involvement with the following organizations: 

  • Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter Population Committee, Organizer and Chairman, 1969-1971
  • Zero Population Growth, member, National Executive Committee, 1973-1978
  • Zero Population Growth, Chairman, Immigration Study Committee, 1973-1975
  • Zero Population Growth, National President, 1975-1977
  • Federation for American Immigration Reform, Organizer and Chairman, 1979-1987, Board, 1979-present
  • Population/Environment Balance (formerly The Environmental Fund), Board Member, 1980-1990
  • U.S., Inc., Founder and Chairman, 1982-present
  • U.S. English, Co-founder and Chairman, 1982-1988 
  • American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities, Co-founder, 1989 
  • The Emergency Committee on Puerto Rican Statehood and the Status of English in the United States, Co-organizer, 1990
  • E Pluribus Unum, Co-organizer, 1992
  • The Social Contract, a quarterly journal, Founder and Publisher, 1990-present; Editor 1990-1998 
  • ProEnglish, Co-organizer, 1993-present
  • Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood Association, Organizer and President, 1965-1971
  • Great Lakes Public Affairs Committee of Planned Parenthood, Chairman, 1970-1971


John's overall focus has included concern for society and the "social contract" between citizens and their elected government and for our ability and responsibility to ensure a viable environment - and country - for future generations. 


Read more about personal attacks against John Tanton.

For more information, see John Tanton's website.  View the complete Tanton video interview series.