September 20, 2013 Print

Sustainable Development or Social Engineering?

Guest post by Robert Schilt, President of the Thurston County Chapter of Citizens Alliance for Property Rights.

The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights would make America one of the most powerful nations in history, but the ink had barely dried on the Constitution before people began trying to change it. That effort continues today by proponents of sustainable development.

Sustainable development is most often defined as "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." On the surface that definition sounds like a solution to many of the growth management problems we are facing today, but the implementation of sustainable development has many citizens concerned about their rights. Here is a look at the steps which led to the current assault on our individual rights and property rights.

In 1974, the United Nations adopted a declaration for the establishment of a "New International Economic Order" (NIEO). The NIEO proposed central planning as opposed to free markets, the imposition of social mechanisms to effect resource allocation worldwide, and authoritative solutions (top down government). The concept of sustainable development arose out of this declaration, and in 1976, the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements was held in Vancouver, B.C to continue the work started through the NIEO. The Vancouver Action Plan drafted at that conference established that private property ownership created "unjust wealth accumulation and endangered earths’ habitats". The Vancouver Action Plan proposed returning private land to government control.

In 1987, the United Nation's Brundtland Commission released a report which included the Vancouver Action Plan's recommendations. According to the report, the only way to protect the earth for the future was to expand government control over private property use, manage man's interactions with society and the environment, and redistribute wealth more equitably. These actions, taken together, constitute sustainable development. They also form the basis of socialism.

In 1990, the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) formed. ICLEI’s task is to implement sustainable development in all communities in the world. Hundreds of cities worldwide are dues-paying members of ICLEI, including 26 cities and 6 counties in Washington State. When a community signs the ICLEI charter, they agree to follow the ICLEI constitution and not the Constitution of the United States.

In 1992, 176 nations met in Brazil at the Rio Earth Summit where the United Nations unveiled a global plan of action called Agenda 21 (a plan of action for the 21st century). This plan stemmed from the Brundtland Report, and President George H.W. Bush brought the 40-chapter plan to Washington, D.C. ICLEI became the implementation arm of Agenda 21.

In 1993, President Clinton, through Executive Order 12852, established the President's Council on Sustainable Development to advise the White House on how to integrate economic goals with environmental and social goals. The administration enforced the order through regulation after cabinet heads determined that 60% of Agenda 21 could be implemented through regulations which would not require congressional approval. These regulations gradually return private land to government control and implement all other items in the Agenda 21 plan. One example of these regulations can be found in the Federal Register. This Federal Register Notice says in no uncertain terms that the Challenge Grant Program is a step in implementing Agenda 21 nationwide. 

A major part of sustainable development includes the reduction of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through the use of internal combustion engines. The first federal grant most communities receive is for implementing a CO2 reduction program. The grant obligates the community to join ICLEI and to use ICLEI’s computer software and advisors to achieve its goals. The community is obliged to hire environmental planners and is urged to apply for more grants, all of which contain strings to governmental regulation. When the grants run out, the community has to make up the difference in the budget through increasing taxes and fees.

The release of Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, provided a stage for environmentalists who used the film as proof that the world is turning into a greenhouse. The film united environmentalists and sustainable development proponents worldwide under the banner of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming. Today, sustainable development advocates champion reducing our carbon footprint through the elimination of the automobile in favor of mass transit and high density, walkable communities.

At the state level, the Washington State Department of Ecology is only one of many state agencies implementing Agenda 21. If you go to WSDOE web page on sustainability, you can read references to the Brundtland Commission and the Earth Charter, a document that sustainable development promoters one day hope will replace the Constitution of the United States. The Earth Charter promotes social justice and puts the rights of nature above the rights of man. There is evidence of this in Thurston County, WA, with the Mazama pocket gopher regulations. You can see Thurston County's plan for the future by going here and clicking on Draft Plan Now Available.

The pathway to freedom and a sound economy is through private property ownership and the free market system, not through government over-regulation and social engineering. The Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington both declare: "All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain their individual rights."

If we don’t exercise our civic authority, we are going to lose it.

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