August 25, 2010
'Sustainable' Poverty: The Real Face of the Leftist Environmental AgendaBy John Griffing
Since the seventies, the American left has warned of coming famine, overpopulation, total deforestation, urban sprawl, and overcrowding. The only problem is that none of this has ever happened. The left lied, and freedom died.
As a consequence of population hysteria, Western countries have overcorrected, aborting pregnancies and exchanging the cradle for a career. The result? The population of the developed world is now shrinking. The European Union (EU) relies on a steady influx of Muslim immigrants to keep pensions afloat. Forest coverage has actually increased in the United States despite sensationalist warnings.
Suburban sprawl never became a substantial problem. In fact, the 2000 Census records show that 94 percent of the United States is still rural, and only 5 percent of U.S. land mass is urban. A study by the Center for Immigration Studies demonstrates that what sprawl does occur is isolated and directly linked to uncontrolled immigration, a problem easily corrected -- without central planning -- if immigration laws are simply enforced.
And food? It just so happens that due to scientific innovation, farmers are growing more food per hectare on less land. But despite the factual evidence, leftists are now implementing environmental policies based on incorrect and historically inaccurate assumptions.
Paying homage to a long legacy of radical environmentalism, President Obama's faithful followers have advanced the Livable Communities Act to attack nonexistent problems like sprawl and overpopulation, as well as sub-issues like pollution. Humans will be punished for seeking to improve their quality of life, with new limits on mobility and Orwellian guidelines dictating where citizens will be allowed to live and work, with the justification of ushering in "sustainable growth." The facts do not matter to Obama and the left. The fact that urban sprawl is a nonexistent problem, that "smart growth" fails where tried, and that the Constitution does not permit government to dictate where and how citizens will live is irrelevant.
The current practices of federal agencies provide a few clues. Although the only body authorized under the Constitution to buy or sell land for government purposes is Congress, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal agencies like the Forest Service have for several decades deprived private property owners of their land (and cattle) at below market prices. The land is then leased back to its owners for a yearly fee. Land that predates the BLM is simply confiscated by way of litigation [i].
In one such case, a rancher named Wally Klump contested the BLM's rights to his land owing to the fact that his ranch predated the BLM by one hundred years. When Klump refused to move, he was held in contempt and sent to federal prison. The result should come as no shock, since internal BLM documents reveal that humans are viewed as a "biological resource" for the purposes of "ecosystem management activities."
Most Americans are unaware that an organized assault on private property rights is tied to a series of dangerous foreign agreements that would transform America into Soviet-style "common" space by way of numerous "biosphere reserves." Never ratified by Congress, these agreements have been incorporated into U.S. regulatory law by way of a Memorandum of Understanding. Interestingly, the "biosphere reserves" program aligns closely with the current Livable Communities Act, conjointly proposing more concentrated human habitats and "buffer zones" to limit human environmental impact. Family trips to Yosemite? Not for long.
Similarly, the EPA has sought to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity by regulation, a treaty that was defeated in Congress on the grounds that it would have opened the door for a possible confiscation of up to fifty percent of the U.S. landmass under the guise of "conservation," including private property. The Convention used the controversial Wildlands Project, which seeks to "rewild" the United States, as its model [ii].
Reed Noss, a Wildlands Project proponent, once remarked that, "... the native ecosystem and the collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans. ..."[iii]. At issue is the constitutionality of regulation or foreign agreements using the Wildlands Project as the philosophical foundation for declared goals.
Is the Constitution's explicit protection of private property rights consistent with the huge assumptions of human expendability inherent in the Wildlands Project and the companion Convention on Biological Diversity?
Even proponents of the Convention do not think so. The Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA), commissioned by the Convention, had this to say of property rights:
The U.N. and its team of environmental activists view U.S. property rights as a "difficulty." The right to live and work in a place of one's own choosing is the definition of freedom. Karl Marx realized the connection between property and freedom. It was Marx who once said, "In a word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend." Conversely, the revered Justice Joseph Story once remarked, "That government can scarcely be deemed to be free when the rights of property are left solely dependent upon the will of a legislative body[.]"
We know how well the Soviet Union protected the environment. Is this really the model we want to pursue under the guise of "livable communities"?
If we follow the suggestions of the radical environmentalists, human beings will be sacrificed on the altar of "sustainability." And sometimes, quite literally. This is not stewardship, but perversion.
Clearly, the environmental agenda is not about protecting the environment, but about controlling human beings. The only thing "sustainable" about the radical environmental agenda is the predictable misery and poverty it will yield.
[i] Colin Cattle Company v. United States, 67 Fed. Cl. 568 (2005); Hage v. United States, 51 Fed. Cl at 581(1998).
[ii] Vernon H. Heywood, (ed.), Global Biodiversity Assessment, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 993.
[iii] Reed Noss, PhD., "The Wildlands Project: Land Conservation Strategy," in Environmental Policy and Biodiversity, R. Edward Grumbine, (ed.), (Washington DC: Island Press, 1994), pp. 240-256.