Agenda 21, a 20-year-old action plan designed to encourage environmental sustainability. Signed by the leaders of more than 178 governments (including George H.W. Bush), the plan relies on voluntary implementation by member states.
Or mind control!
Glenn Beck sounded the alarm last year, claiming that the term “sustainable development” is actually code for “centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth.” The ultra-conservative John Birch Society drafted a resolution for the upcoming Republican National Convention in opposition to Agenda 21, calling it “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control.”
Activists Fight Green Projects,
Seeing U.N. Plot
Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.
They are showing up at planning meetings to denounce bike lanes on public streets and smart meters on home appliances — efforts they equate to a big-government blueprint against individual rights.
“Down the road, this data will be used against you,” warned one speaker at a recent Roanoke County, Va., Board of Supervisors meeting who turned out with dozens of people opposed to the county’s paying $1,200 in dues to a nonprofit that consults on sustainability issues.
Local officials say they would dismiss such notions except that the growing and often heated protests are having an effect.
In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. Similar opposition helped doom a high-speed train line in Florida. And more than a dozen cities, towns and counties, under new pressure, have cut off financing for a program that offers expertise on how to measure and cut carbon emissions.
“It sounds a little on the weird side, but we’ve found we ignore it at our own peril,” said George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association’s chapter in Virginia.
The protests date to 1992 when the United Nations passed a sweeping, but nonbinding, 100-plus-page resolution called Agenda 21 that was designed to encourage nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land by steering development to already dense areas. They have gained momentum in the past two years because of the emergence of the Tea Party movement, harnessing its suspicion about government power and belief that man-made global warming is a hoax.
In January, the Republican Party adopted its own resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21. And Newt Gingrich took aim at it during a Republican debate in November.
Tom DeWeese, the founder of the American Policy Center, a Warrenton, Va.-based foundation that advocates limited government, says he has been a leader in the opposition to Agenda 21 since 1992. Until a few years ago, he had few followers beyond a handful of farmers and ranchers in rural areas. Now, he is a regular speaker at Tea Party events.
Membership is rising, Mr. DeWeese said, because what he sees as tangible Agenda 21-inspired controls on water and energy use are intruding into everyday life. “People may be acting out at some of these meetings, and I do not condone that. But their elected representatives are not listening and they are frustrated.”
Fox News has also helped spread the message. In June, after President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Rural Council to “enhance federal engagement with rural communities,” Fox programs linked the order to Agenda 21. A Fox commentator, Eric Bolling, said the council sounded “eerily similar to a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a centralized planning agency would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order.”The movement has been particularly effective in Tea Party strongholds like Virginia, Florida and Texas, but the police have been called in to contain protests in states including Maryland and California, where opponents are fighting laws passed in recent years to encourage development around public transportation hubs and dense areas in an effort to save money and preserve rural communities.
One group has become a particular target. Iclei — Local Governments for Sustainability USA, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit, sells software and offers advice to communities looking to reduce their carbon footprints. A City Council meeting in Missoula, Mont., in December got out of hand and required police intervention over $1,200 in dues to Iclei.
At a Board of Supervisors meeting in Roanoke in late January, Cher McCoy, a Tea Party member from nearby Lexington, Va., generated sustained applause when she warned: “They get you hooked, and then Agenda 21 takes over. Your rights are stripped one by one.”
Echoing other protesters, Ms. McCoy identified smart meters, devices being installed by utility companies to collect information on energy use, as part of the conspiracy. “The real job of smart meters is to spy on you and control you — when you can and cannot use electrical appliances,” she said.
Ilana Preuss, vice president of Smart Growth America, a national coalition of nonprofits that supports economic development while conserving open spaces and farmland, said, “The real danger is not that they will get rid of some piece of software from Iclei” but that “people will be too scared to have a conversation about local development. And that is an important conversation to be having.”
In some cases, the protests have not been large, but they are powerful because officials are concerned about the Tea Party.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Gingrich has called Agenda 21 an important issue and has said, “I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21.”
These proposals reflect the work of dozens of different agencies
and commissions over several years, but are now being advanced by the Commission on Global Governance in its report entitled Our Global Neighborhood (Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-827998-3, 410pp).
The Commission consists of 28 individuals, carefully selected because of their prominence, influence, and their ability to effect the implementation of the recommendations. The Commission is not an official body of the United Nations. It was, however, endorsed by the UN Secretary General and funded through two trust funds of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), nine national governments, and several foundations, including the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation.
The Commission believes that world events, since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, combined with advances in technology, the information revolution, and the now-global awareness of impending environmental catastrophe, create a climate in which the people of the world will recognize the need for, and the benefits of, global governance. Global governance, according to the report, "does not imply world government or world federalism." Although the difference between "world government" and "global governance" has been compared to the difference between "rape" and "date-rape," the system of governance described in the report is a new system. There is no historic model for the system here proposed, nor is there any method by which the governed may decide whether or not they wish to be governed by such a system. Global governance is a procedure toward defined objectives that employs a variety of methods, none of which give the governed an opportunity to vote "yes" or "no" for the outcome. Decisions taken by administrative bodies, or by bodies of appointed delegates, or by "accredited" civil society organizations, are already implementing many of the recommendations just published by the Commission.
The Foundation for Global Governance
The foundation for global governance is the belief that the world is now ready to accept a "global civic ethic" based on "a set of core values that can unite people of all cultural, political, religious, or philosophical backgrounds." This belief is reinforced by another belief: "that governance should be underpinned by democracy at all levels and ultimately by the rule of enforceable law."