“The term emerged from the 1987 report of the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland Commission), entitled Our Common Future. The term has no legal definition. It means simply ‘…to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,‘ according to the Brundtland Commission report. Linked to Earth Day (April 22), it masquerades as a call for clean air, green energy, and suggests a pristine bucolic existence for us and our progeny — forever. But in reality, it has become immensely useful to many groups who use the slogan to advance their own special agenda and imposes massive government regulations enforced through state and local governments. These policies place severe restrictions on energy and water use. Development schemes seek to ban the use of cars, instead forcing ridership on massively expensive and inconvenient public transportation systems. Meanwhile, so-called “Visioning” programs follow enforcement of international policies to reorganize communities into a one-size-fits-all straightjacket.
The term itself was invented by Gro Harlem Bruntlandt, a Norwegian socialist politician and former prime minister. After her term there, she landed in Paris and, together with Club of Rome veteran Alexander King, began publicizing SD. Indeed, the concept is a successor to the neo-Malthusian theme of the Club of Rome, which began to take hold around 1970 and led to the notorious book “Limits to Growth.” In turn, the “Limits to Growth” concept was developed a few years earlier by US geologists like Preston Cloud and King Hubbert. In a report published by a panel of the National Academy, they promoted the view that the world was running out of resources: food, fuels, and minerals. According to their views, and those of the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth, most important metals should have become unavailable before the end of the 20th century.
In turn, these neo-Malthusian concerns were opposed by the so called “Cornucopians.” Their leading apostle was certainly the late Julian Simon, who went somewhat overboard in the other direction. Many will remember Julian Simon’s famous bet with Paul Ehrlich, the noted Stanford University doomsday prophet, concerning the unavailability of minerals by 1990. Simon won the bet but he was certainly off-base in predicting that there would be no end to crude oil on this planet. Fossil fuels, of course, are essentially non-renewable. No matter how slowly they are used up, once used up, they are gone and not replenished over any reasonable time periods.
But in a certain sense this does not matter. Oil may become depleted — at least low-cost oil — but its essential function is to produce energy. And there we have a variety of ways to create energy for many millennia or even longer — based on nuclear fission.
The debate between neo-Malthusians and Cornucopians came to a head in a 1969 symposium of the AAAS, published as a book titled “Is there an optimal level of population?” Both sides recognized that population levels and growth rates are equally important in discussing the possible depletion of resources. Those proposing larger populations, like Julian Simon, seemed oblivious also to the environmental costs that would rise rapidly as the natural ability of the environment to absorb waste is exceeded.
The idea of sustainable development gained momentum from the UN’s 1992 Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro. Maurice Strong was the Secretary-General of the Conference. Strong also headed the first such conference in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was also a member of the Brundtland Commission. Shortly after the 1992 event, Strong created an NGO (non-government-organization) called Earth Council, whose purpose was to coordinate the efforts of all nations to achieve sustainable development through the creation of national councils on sustainable development.
The Rio Conference produced three major documents: The Convention on Biological Diversity; The Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a ‘soft law’ policy declaration, or Action Plan; the other two documents are legally binding international treaties.”
Since its beginnings, the “sustainable development” movement has infected our entire nation. President Bill Clinton really got the ball rolling in the United States when he signed an executive order creating the President’s Council on Sustainable Development in June of 1993.
In a nutshell, the purposes of the “sustainable development” agenda are to limit people’s ability to use their own land as they see fit, to severely curtail people’s energy consumption, and to cram people into metropolitan centers (stack ’em and pack ’em) while prohibiting development outside of “approved” land areas, what these “smart growth” Einsteins call “suburban sprawl,” as if land development is a bad thing. The agenda aims to corral people into such close quarters that they will be encouraged to walk everywhere they go instead of drive those evil cars.
We see the rotten fruit of this movement all around us, from the dangerous, radio frequency-emitting “smart meters,” to low-volume flush toilets, to so-called “energy efficient” appliances (which only means they don’t work nearly as well as they used to), to the hideously ugly, tiny cars rolling around on the streets. Green building codes are another sign, and believe it or not, the explosion of bike and walking paths all over the place is yet another sign of the movement.
When you hear terms like “smart growth,” “comprehensive planning,” “sustainable communities” and “visioning,” understand that these are communist code terms that are about nothing more than government control of land use, robbing us of our individual rights and freedoms, and redistributing our wealth to the federal government and to “developing” nations.
In Henry Lamb’s Freedom 21 publication, Mr. Lamb explains,
“The goals of sustainable development amount to a complete transformation of American society. Sustainable development embraces education, economics, and social justice, as well as environmental issues. Once the new collaborative decision process has been established, it can be used to develop policy in all these issue areas. Whenever public policy is developed by government-funded advocacy groups, administrators, or bureaucrats, there can be no accountability to the people. Private property rights are eroded and individual freedom evaporates.
Advocates of government control of land use have exerted their influence since long before the term ‘sustainable development’ was first uttered. The 1976 U.N. Conference on Human Settlements uses the raw language: ‘Government control of land use is therefore indispensable.’ By 1992, the advocates of government control had learned that words matter, and rather than use words such as ‘government control of land use…’ they coined terms such as sustainable development, smart growth, and sustainable communities.
It matters not what euphemism is used to shield the reality of government control. Sustainable development, smart growth, and sustainable communities all describe a government-controlled society. Every time a public policy requires a private citizen to ask permission from government, another expression of freedom is destroyed.”
This is a broad rundown of the complex and detailed issue of the environmental whacko, “sustainable development” agenda, and it is important that we make an effort to become informed by studying the extensive amount of materials available on the Internet and elsewhere. The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of this sinister movement and are working tirelessly to inform leaders at the local, state and federal levels. Tea Party groups are doing a good job of this, including our own local South Mississippi Tea Party, which has a special section on its website for Agenda 21 information and has hosted Agenda 21 educational events.
As with most issues in life, ignorance is our greatest liability. An uninformed citizenry is an enslaved citizenry. We must embrace the knowledge we need to combat these communistic efforts to rob our freedoms. The sustainable movement has infested the entire nation, and beating it back will take a massive effort. There is a ton of money and power involved in pushing this radical agenda, and when community leaders cannot resist the handout of federal taxpayer money grants, they place their whole area under the iron thumb of the tyrannical “green” movement.
Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have embraced this movement. In the story with which I opened this broadcast, one of our Republican Senators, Roger Wicker, was the one who presented the “green” award to the Ocean Springs housing development. He should know better, but apparently he does not.
A good place to start reversing this communist “sustainable” movement is in our local city councils and planning commissions. Many of these elected and appointed officials are ignorant of what these issues mean, and they need to be taught. As with other freedom-robbing initiatives of the communist Left, if we do nothing it will continue to grow ever more powerful.
I will close with another quote from Mr. Lamb’s Freedom 21 report,
“The current attack on America’s freedom is not with bombs and bullets from foreign tyrants. It is from an internal enemy of freedom that is just as vicious and much more sinister. America is a nation created expressly to defend and protect the freedom of its citizens. Any system of government that replaces that freedom with government control is an enemy.
Sustainable development, as defined in Agenda 21 and the documents published by the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, cannot exist without government management and control. To the extent that local, state, and federal government yields to the demands of sustainable development, freedom is diminished. To the extent that local, state, and federal government rejects the principles of sustainable development, freedom is advanced.
The only power on earth sufficient to constrain a government out of control is the determination of an informed, involved, and inspired electorate, exercised at the ballot box.”
But all this is history. SD lives on because it is useful in selling various policies. Some examples are:
- Restrictions on the use of fossil fuels, under the guise of “saving the climate”
- Transfers of resources to less developed nations – now justified for climate resons (but of course, quite contrary to resource conservation)
- Striving for world government and UN sovereignty — all for “sustainability”,
- Promoting a green energy future, using a solar and wind,
- Advocating negative population growth, etc.
Among the worst policies being pushed with the help of SD is a scheme called Contraction and Convergence (C & C). The idea is that every human is entitled to emit the same amount of CO2. This of course translates into every being on earth using the same amount of energy — and, by inference, having the same income. In other words, C & C is basically a policy for a giant global income redistribution.
Since the SD concept has been popularized, it has become a fashionable topic for research papers, especially in the social sciences. We may yet live to see the day when trendy universities establish programs to teach SD — and eventually even departments of SD and endowed academic chairs. Never underestimate the drive for expansion in the academic world.
For Earth Day 2011, the National Association of Scholars, composed mostly of Conservative-leaning academics, released a Statement that critiques the campus sustainability movement. NAS president Peter Wood said:
“Sustainability sounds like a call for recycling and clean drinking water. But its proponents are much more ambitious. For them, a sustainable society is one that replaces the market economy with top-down regulation. They present students a frightening story in which the earth is on the brink of disaster and immediate action is needed. This is a tactic aimed at silencing critics, shutting down debate, and mobilizing students who never get the opportunity to hear opposing views.”
Here are some excerpts from the Statement itself:
“Sustainability” is one of the key words of our time. We are six years along in the United Nations’ “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.” In the United States, 677 colleges and universities presidents have committed themselves to a sustainability-themed “Climate Commitment.” Sustainability is, by a large measure, the most popular social movement today in American higher education. It is, of course, not just a campus movement, but also a ubiquitous presence in the K-12 curriculum, and a staple of community groups, political platforms, appeals to consumers, and corporate policy.
The sustainability movement arrived on campuses mainly at the invitation of college presidents and administrative staff in areas such as student activities and residence life. That means that it largely escaped the scrutiny of faculty members and that it continues to enjoy a position of unearned authority. In many instances, the movement advances by administrative fiat, backed up by outside advocacy groups and students recruited for their zeal in promoting the cause. Agenda-driven organizations-such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment(ACUPCC)-have taken advantage of academic sensibilities to turn sustainability into what is in many cases, a campus fetish. Sustainability also gets promoted by resort to pledges, games, competitions, and a whole variety of psychological gimmicks that bypass serious intellectual inquiry.
Some results are relatively trivial. For example, at certain institutions, cafeteria trays have been banned to save food, water, and energy, leaving students and staff to juggle dishes, cups, and utensils as they move between counters and tables. Many campuses have also banned the sale of disposable to reduce plastic waste. Yet however laughable, such petty annoyances have a sinister penumbra. They advertise a willingness to bully that creates a more generalized climate of intimidation, spilling over into other domains.
In practice, this means that sustainability is used as a means of promoting to students a view that capitalism and individualism are “unsustainable,” morally unworthy, and a present danger to the future of the planet.
Fascination with decline and ruin are nothing new in Western thought. The sustainability movement combines a bureaucratic and regulatory impulse with an updated version of the Romantics’ preoccupation with the end of civilization, and with hints of the Christian apocalyptic tradition. These are the “end times” in the view of some sustainability advocates-or potentially so in the eyes of many others. The movement has its own versions of sin and redemption, and in many other respects has a quasi-religious character. For some of the adherents, the earth itself is treated as a sentient deity; others content themselves with the search for the transcendent in Nature.
As a creed among creeds, sustainability constitutes an upping of the ideological ante. Feminism, Afro-centrism, gay-liberation, and various other recent fads and doctrines, whatever else they were, were secular, speaking merely to politics and culture. The sustainability movement reaches beyond that, having nothing less than the preservation of life on earth at its heart.
The religious creeds of faculty members and students are their own business, but we have reason for concern when dogmatic beliefs are smuggled into the curriculum and made a basis for campus programs as though they were mere extensions of scientific facts.
The sustainability movement is, in a word, unsustainable. It runs too contrary to the abiding purposes of higher education; it is too rife with internal contradictions; and it is too contrary to the environmental, economic, and social facts to endure indefinitely.
George Hunt, a business consultant, was present at the 1987 Fourth World Wilderness Congress as a member of the staff. At the conference he noticed it had very little to do with the conventional environment movement and was surprised to see people like Maurice Strong, Edmund de Rothschild (Pilgrims Society), David Rockefeller (Pilgrims Society), and James A. Baker (Pilgrims Society; Cap & Gown; trustee American Institute for Contemporary German Studies; Atlantic Council of the United States; National Security Planning Group; Bohemian Grove; CFR; Carlyle; and advisor to George W. Bush in his 2000 election).
In a 2018 released book by Tom DeWeese, a recognized expert on private property rights, he describes in detail the process being used at every level of government to reorganize our society through the destruction of private property.
According to DeWeese, the American system of free enterprise, private property ownership and individual liberty is under attack by a political force that, while plainly out in the open for all to see, is little understood and mostly ignored. Yet private non-governmental organizations (NGOs), city planners and federal agencies have teamed up specifically to change human society under the banner of Sustainable Development. It is gaining power in every state, county, and community under the false threat of Environmental Armageddon, demanding that we completely reorganize our economic system, our representative form of government, and our individual lifestyle.
- Why private property matters
- The only real solution to eradicating poverty
- The lost definition of property rights
- Who’s behind the transformation?
- 10 real questions city planners should be asking the public
- 10 vital questions to ask before signing a conservation easement
- 10 facts every community needs to know about regional plans
- Who takes the “Walk of Shame” in the destruction of property rights?
- How to restore private property rights
- …And much more
The assault on the inner cities – destroying hope
Low income and ethnic neighborhoods have traditions, history and family ties. Yet city Smart Growth programs, funded by federal grants, attack with bulldozers, destroying small local businesses and private property. Massive high-rise condos and corporate businesses replace the original residents who are now unable to afford to live in their old neighborhood. Their fate is to be forced into government housing and welfare programs, from which there is little ability to leave or plan lives of their own.
Continued on next page…