A joint resolution passed this month by the State House condemning a 20-year-old United Nations document should be placed into a time capsule so future generations can understand why they inherited an unsustainable and deteriorating world. The legislators who sponsored HJR0587 embarrass not just Tennessee but also humanity.
The bill calls U.N. Agenda 21 "destructive and insidious" and says it "views the American way of life of private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership, individual travel choices and privately owned farms all as destructive to the environment" and will accomplish its goals "by socialist/communist redistribution of wealth... National sovereignty is deemed a social injustice."
In fact, the document is a call for industrialized countries to establish investment and trade partnerships with developing countries to encourage sustainable development, open new markets, and sell our goods know-how to the rest of the world. Reading like a Reagan-era statement on international policy—essentially what it is—Agenda 21 calls for reduction and elimination of tariffs.
It says nations have a "sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies," and promotes market policies such as "social and environmental costs in resource pricing." Agenda 21 says countries should "Remove the barriers to progress caused by bureaucratic inefficiencies, administrative strains, unnecessary controls and the neglect of market conditions" and "Encourage the private sector and foster entrepreneurship."
There is a whole chapter on strengthening the role of farmers in the international economy. In short, the description of Agenda 21 in the House resolution is fictional.
Single-family homes and privately owned cars are not mentioned, though transportation and "patterns of human settlement" are key topics. The most direct attack on suburban living is a recommendation for "reducing subsidies on, and recovering the full costs of, environmental and other services [such as] water supply, sanitation, waste collection, roads and telecommunications provided to higher income neighbourhoods."
The suburbs are not called "destructive to the environment" but are criticized for setting up resource conflicts within society. Atlanta is a fine example. Georgia's persistent efforts to take Tennessee's water ought to have attuned state legislators to the problems that resource conflicts can cause.
Agenda 21 suggests easing conflicts with energy-efficient technologies and by eliminating price distortions like the subsidies listed above, market-based solutions that depend on private ownership to be effective.
In all likelihood, few, if any, of the 55 representatives who sponsored the resolution have actually looked at the Agenda 21 document. If they had, they never would have signed their name to such inanity. How seriously do they take their responsibility as our representatives? This resolution is a 20-year distillation of low-watt AM brainpower.
It is impossible to deny that current resource use is unsustainable. Drinking water is becoming scarce even in developed countries. Fisheries are dangerously depleted, and farming requires ever more input of fertilizer and chemicals. Even with domestic oil production on the rise, prices keep climbing. Pollutants as innocuous as carbon dioxide are causing major problems that politicians are unwilling to address.
HJR0587 and the names of the culprits who supported it should go in the time capsule with news reports of the deadly tornadoes and heat records being shattered while these clowns put their selfish and delusional ideology on display.
In 2050, the few short-lived mining jobs from blowing up remaining coal-bearing ridges will be distant memories, but the sacrificed ridges will be fresh scars still bleeding toxins into creeks and rivers. Rising seas will be battering the world's port cities, and during a respite from violent storms, the grandchildren of today's legislators can open the time capsule and experience the shame our elected officials do not feel.