Sustainable Development Means a Wrenching Transformation of Your Life

Recently W. Cecil Steward, dean emeritus of the UNL College of Architecture (Lincoln, Nebraska) launched what can only be described as a diatribe against a talk I gave recently in Lincoln. My topic was Sustainable Development and how it is transforming out nation. In his article, Mr. Steward, rather than provide any substance on the issue, prefers instead, to use words designed to paint me as an extremist playing on people’s fear.

Specifically, Mr. Steward accuses me of misrepresenting Lincoln’s local Comprehensive Development Plan, and it’s imposition of Sustainable Development as a “cover for a United Nations based international conspiracy…” I have worked on this issue for more than eighteen years and have routinely experienced similar attacks against my message and my character in cities where I have appeared. For some reason those working to enforce Sustainable Development policies scramble to discredit me and blow a well orchestrated smokescreen to cover their work. Apparently honest debate and disagreement are not part of their plans.

But debate and discussion is the traditional American way. I’ll present my case point by point. First, there is a very clear connection between the United Nations and local Lincoln comprehensive development plans. The very term “Sustainable Development” first appeared in a 1987 report entitled “Our Common Future,” produced by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. The term was first offered as official UN Policy in 1992 at the Earth Summit in a document that is today simply referred to as Agenda 21. IN their own words here is what proponents of Agenda 21 said it is: “Agenda 21 proposes an array of actions which are intended to be implemented by EVERY person on Earth…it calls for specific changes in the activities if ALL people…Effective execution of Agenda 21 will REQUIRE a profound reorientation of ALL humans, unlike anything the world has ever experienced…” Agenda 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet (Earthpress, 1992).

At that Earth Summit, President George H.W. Bush signed American acceptance of the Agenda 21 plan. The next year, in compliance with Agenda 21, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12858 establishing the “President’s Council on Sustainable Development” in order to “harmonize” US development policy with UN policy as outlined in Agenda 21. The Executive Order directed all agencies of the Federal Government to work with state and local community governments in a joint effort to “reinvent” government using the guidelines outlined in Agenda 21.

What are these guidelines and policies, and do you see them today in Lincoln? Agenda 21 calls for reduction in energy use; reduction in water use; enforcement of alternative energy use, specifically wind and solar; controls over development, specifically the creation of mixed use neighborhoods that contain high-density housing units (high rise or extremely small lots) along with office space, stores and open space that will eliminate the use of cars; development of public transportation and high speed, light rail trains; etc. All of these policies are based on the scare tactic that man is creating global warming, a charge that is now in great disrepute throughout the world. Yet, proponents continue to press these policies. Literally everything related to sustainable policy leads to higher prices, shortages of goods and calls from planners for sacrifice by citizens.

In Lincoln, literally all of these Agenda 21 guidelines can now be found. Lincoln has “smart-growth” policies that enforce high-density housing with a mix of commercial and residential properties, bike-friendly streets, and walking space. The goal is to eliminate the use of cars as much as possible. Residents are instead encouraged to walk and ride bikes to work and shopping. Electric companies are now installing smart meters which take away homeowner control of electric use. Energy audits are being conducted to determine the energy efficiency of homes. If Lincoln follows suit of other cities that are using this practice to set energy reduction goals, then soon city government will set strict standards for energy use. Homeowners will have to spend thousands of dollars to comply. Non-compliance will bring fines. To enforce alternative energy schemes, there are plans to force homeowners to cut back trees in their yards in order to allow open access to solar panels on roofs. And, of course, there is the very important policy to force drivers to “share the road” with bikes – the “complete street,” they call it. In short, Lincoln sustainable policies match perfectly those outlined in Agenda 21. Coincidence?

The bottom line is, city planners, and those like Mr. Steward, have set themselves up as an elite force which believes it knows better how the rest of us should live. They have “reinvented” Lincoln government as top down control to enforce a life style on us, rooted in a one-size fits all international policy called Agenda 21, on the excuse of a questionable environmental risk called Global Warming. And they certainly don’t want to be questioned by anyone as they do it.

Well, here are some very specific questions I would suggest every citizen of Lincoln ask their planners who are busying themselves in your personal lives: Ask them to name a single thing you can do on your private property without their permission. Ask them what guarantees for protection of private property rights they have included in their comprehensive plans. And above all, ask them, especially Mr. Steward, how often they ride their bikes to work.


Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.