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For Immediate Release: December 11, 2000

Better than Sex

By Dave Skinner, Whitefish, Montana

Publication of this article made possible by the Paragon Foundation

Sustainability. Sustainable development. Sustainable communities. Ecological sustainability.

Academics study it, environmental groups advocate it, and government agencies, especially land management agencies and planning entities, are going about trying to implement it. The President's Council on Sustainable Development operates out of the White House. Over 350,000 Internet sites and pages mention it.

As reported by the Associated Press, a few days ago in Great Falls, Montana, in her keynote speech to the Montana Wilderness Association convention, controversial former Forest Service supervisor Gloria Flora stated that 100,000 organizations (30,000 in America alone) are working to promote sustainability.

Why, in this day of apathy and disengagement, is there so much enthusiasm for such a bland-sounding concept that apparently has nothing to do with sex?

According to the definition agreed upon in the 1987 Brundtland Commission Report, sustainability is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," while meeting the basic needs of the world's poor and approaching economics with a view to the impact of human activity on the surrounding environment.

The 1992 United Nations Rio Declaration modifies this somewhat by saying development must "equitably" meet such needs. The United Nations Association of Canada expands on equity as "the wise management of resources and the equitable sharing of the benefits of economic activity on both the societal and international level."

Former Norwegian Prime Minister H. Gro Brundtland (who chaired the 1987 Commission) stated in 1986, "There are many dimensions to sustainability.

First, it requires the elimination of poverty and deprivation.

Second, it requires the conservation and enhancement of the resources base which alone can ensure that the elimination of poverty is permanent.

Third, it requires a broadening of the concept of development so that it covers not only economic growth, but also social and cultural development.

Fourth, and most important, it requires unification of economics and ecology in decision-making at all levels."

It would seem that Bruntland is interested in more than just the environment. His rather difficult "requirements" (a permanent elimination of global poverty, for one) and the language used to outline these requirements is a reminder that politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats have a remarkable talent for hiding their true intentions behind innocuous code-worded language. Attentive persons must begin to wonder if mere environmental protection is the only thing spurring the formation and activity of a hundred thousand organizations.

To cut through the clutter, it is often helpful to examine work done by pure theoreticians and academics for an understanding of what actual "sustainability" would require. On an Australian "Green Solutions" site is a two-page summary which sets forth the following conditions which must be met for ecological sustainability:

1.) The maintenance of life support systems and

2.) The achievement of a "natural" extinction rate.

Maintenance occurs when certain targets are met. While Green Solutions listed more, the most noteworthy "targets" are "zero" climate damage, species extinction, soil damage, waste and pollution; improvement of resource use efficiency by a factor of 10; and, after 75% of the land base has been set aside "for nature," zero human encroachment on that land.

Increases in the "manipulation or harvesting of nature" are to be forbidden, as are "increases in concentrations in nature of substances that come from the earth's crust or are produced by society." Limiting resource inputs implies many adaptations, including creation of an "ultra-frugal," "closed-cycle economy" with a human population level that "must be sustainable."

Let's see... to be truly "ecologically sustainable," humanity must reduce all impacts on the planet to zero, set aside 75% of all land as wilderness, become ten times more efficient in resource use (while extracting none from the earth's crust), and keep population limited to those lucky (or unlucky) few able to live in an ultra-frugal closed-cycle system -- all while equitably sharing the benefits?

That's nothing less than the complete transformation of global society, an impossible task under current sociopolitical conditions. Therefore, the Green Solution team states, "society must organize itself so that this is easy to achieve."

Is it possible that those thousands upon thousands of organizations Flora mentioned have formed not because they wish to protect the environment, but because they hope to "organize" the most gigantic social-engineering project of all time?

Well, one "requirement" of sustainability is efficient recycling of waste products. A most efficient method, for example, is recycling BS into "organic fertilizer," all it takes is a name change and a little marketing. Socialism -- all they had to do was change the name.

You buyin'?

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