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Agenda 21: Death by Sustainability?

by Mike Rothschild

March 18, 2013

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Donate It’s a Friday night in 2021, and you’ve had a long, hard day. Your job of stamping codes on malaria pills bound for developing countries is unsatisfying, but until a position in another section becomes open (and assuming you pass the myriad Fairness Tests for it), it’s where you are. Right now, all you want is to be in your Home Unit, off the clock and enjoying Dinner Paste #7 (real meat flavoring is a weekend treat, after all.) The electric bus drops you off at Building 844 in Downtown Zone G12. You walk in and notice it right away. The light in the bathroom. You left it on. Panic grips you as you run to turn it off. Maybe they didn’t notice. Maybe they don’t know.

Then you hear the knock on the door. They know. Four blue-helmets stand there, armed to the teeth. One of them hands you a slip of onion-skin reading “CITATION 36-H53.1: LEFT BATHROOM LIGHT ON DURING WORK SHIFT.” And without a word, you go with them. There’s no need to pack and no point in protesting. By nightfall, you’ll be farming wind at a Work Camp 100 miles outside of the city, and nobody will say a word about the new code-stamper at the factory on Monday. Because they don’t want to be next. And in the North American Continental Sphere, anyone can be next.

This horrifying vision of an Orwellian nightmare future is what some fringe authors, conspiracy theorists and an increasing number of political extremists in the United States think awaits us if Agenda 21, the United Nations' nefarious plan for world domination though social engineering at the local level, is fully implemented. Under its myriad laws, penalties and dictates, the entire American way of life will be subverted and destroyed, replaced by urban serfdom and “smart growth.” Citizens will be crammed into city-wide “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” towers located in urban human habitation zones, with public transportation required, suburban growth banned, personal choice abolished, freedom to travel restricted, family planning mandated and environmental impact put before human happiness. Countries will be abolished and freedom will be a relic.

The end result will be a great depopulation of the planet with the survivors turned into little more than slaves of an environmentally-obsessed world government, with the UN at the head of the snake. And all of it was crammed down our throats without any oversight or ratification by Congress. Or so they say.

While its opponents look at Agenda 21 as a road-map to death by sustainability, the truth is much less nightmarish. Let's take a look at what Agenda 21 is, what it represents, and most importantly, what it's not.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, unenforceable, voluntary policy paper, developed in 1992 and signed by 178 countries, including the United States. It is, at its core, a long-term plan for environmentally-healthy development, more efficient use of land and resources, improved urban planning, promoting health, combating poverty and reducing our impact on the world around us. Much of it is tailored to assisting the developing world, but it can be carried out at any level, from the local township to entire countries. It has no penalties for noncompliance, no enforcement arm and you can put into practice any, some, all or none of it. It’s not a treaty, a law or a charter, hence why it was never ratified by Congress. And, unlike most secret plans for world depopulation and domination, it’s available online in its entirety, in a variety of languages.

The entire document is over 300 pages long, and split into four large sections, so it’s hard to summarize all of its many suggestions and ideas. But even a glancing read will tell you that is has no provisions for banning travel, seizing your property, taking babies away, plowing the suburbs under, curtailing gun ownership (the word "gun" never appears in the document) or turning the civilized world into a UN police state/wildlife preserve. Some of what it does deal with can be found in a random sampling of chapter headings:
Promoting an international trading system that takes account of the needs of developing countries
Encouraging data collection and research
Promoting sound economic policies
Enabling the poor to achieve sustainable livelihoods
Encouraging greater efficiency in the use of energy and resources
Meeting primary health care needs, particularly in rural areas
Control of communicable diseases
Reducing health risks from environmental pollution and hazards
While Agenda 21 might be overly reliant on vague buzzwords like “sustainable” and “local,” these are lofty, and in many cases, life-saving goals. Shouldn’t we be striving to use our land and resources better? Shouldn’t we be committed to lifting developing nations out of crushing poverty? Shouldn’t we be combating urban blight and soulless suburban sprawl? Haven’t we all sat in traffic long enough?

According to a loose coalition of conspiracy theorists, Tea Party activists, John Birch Society anti-one-world-government types and opponents of all things United Nations, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding “no!”

Despite the plan being over 20 years old, the anti-Agenda 21 movement is a fairly recent phenomenon. It appears to have been almost non-existent until late 2011, when Glenn Beck began talking about it regularly on his various media platforms, portraying it as a liberal elite conspiracy to herd us into giant Soviet-like apartment buildings and turn the Earth over to the UN. Other conservative outlets picked up the story and ran with it, and soon, a series of voluntary suggestions was seen as a crusade against the suburbs, industry, capitalism, humanity in general, and most importantly, America.

There are now thousands of anti-Agenda 21 organizations, websites, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter handles. Fueled by panic and rumor, cities and states across the country are passing vague “anti-Agenda 21” resolutions and laws, declaring that they WILL NOT be part of the UN’s takeover of our precious strip malls and golf courses, despite the option never having actually been presented. Language decrying Agenda 21 even made it into the Republican Party Platform for 2012. For a conspiracy theory, it has an astonishing amount of mainstream acceptance.

Portions of Agenda 21 are meant to be implemented at the local level, coordinated by a United Nations subsidiary group called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Subsequently, that’s where a good deal of the protesting has occurred " much of it in the form of heated arguments at normally dry affairs like planning commission seminars, city council hearings or board of supervisors meetings.

These protests have become a serious problem for communities trying to deal with a host of issues, from zoning to septic tanks to adding bike lanes to roads. All of which, according to the conspiracy theorists, are tentacles of the great UN octopus, slowly squeezing our freedom. According to a 2012 article from the New York Times:
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.
With such a disparate group of people backing a conspiracy theory that’s fairly new, it’s not surprising that the paranoia over Agenda 21 has grown so quickly and loudly. But like most of the other conspiracy theories we look at, it falls apart once critical thinking is applied. For one thing, Agenda 21 doesn’t actually contain any language advocating any of this. It’s about better use of what we have, not cramming us into “human habitation zones.”

It’s also absurd to think that the mighty United Nations is taking over the world one urban planning commission meeting at a time through ICLEI, which isn’t actually part of the UN. It's a small independent nonprofit devoted to solving land-use and environmental issues on micro levels. Like any legitimate nonprofit, you can read its financial information for free.

If the UN really did have a plan to eradicate the meddling influence of human beings by killing billions, would it really be hatching such a plot out in the open, free for anyone to read? Would it really be discussed at city council meetings? Just like Illuminati hand signals or vast government conspiracies, to accept Agenda 21 as a destructive plot to is to believe that it’s being done in plain sight over decades, with thousands of people in the loop about it.

And as with the vast majority of conspiracies and pseudoscience, someone is making money off it. A quick look at Amazon shows about a dozen anti-Agenda 21 books and DVDs available for purchase, with Glenn Beck’s own novel/polemic Agenda 21 the top-seller. While the people protesting Agenda 21 might truly believe it to be a vast plot against freedom, it seems just as likely that it was something new for Beck to cash in on. And cash in, he did.

So is Agenda 21 a road-map to the future or a blueprint for tyranny? Read the document and judge for yourself. But realize that those railing against it have an agenda all their own, and it’s likely to be based on nothing more than misinformation and fear.

by Mike Rothschild

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