Agenda 21 – Born inAmerica, Raised by the United Nations, Part 3
In part 1 of this series, I showed that contrary to some people’s opinion, the basic idea behind the U.N’s Agenda 21 actually began in America with the publication of two books in 1948, In Our Plundered Planet by the chairman of the Conservation Foundation, Fairfield Osborn and Road To Survival, written by William Vogt, who was a former official of the Audubon Society and who later become national director of Planned Parenthood. I also showed that how a Secretary of the Interior, Steward Udall, the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin who is considered the father of “Earth Day”, Gaylord A. Nelson and even President Richard M. Nixon worked to “push” the environment cause which would lay the foundation for a Democratic congress to passed Public Law 91-213 (91st Congress, S. 2701) on March 16, 1970, to establish a “Commission on Population Growth and the American Future”.
I continued in part 2, to how after President Nixon had signed Public Law 91-213, into law and established the “President’s Commission on Population and The American Future”, a commission which was to headed by an American philanthropist and 1967 winner of the Margaret Sanger Award, John D. Rockefeller III and this commission would become to be known as the Rockefeller Commission. This commission would release its findings two years later onMarch, 27, 1972. I also showed that not long after the release of the Commission’s report, the first major U.N. conference on international environmental issues was held inStockholm,Swedenand is known as the Stockholm Conference. I asked the question, was it a coincidence that this conference was held after the release of the final report of the Rockefeller Commission? I also ask was it a coincidence that this was the UN’s first major conference on international environmental issues, and in turn marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics. Could this “turning point” have lead to the possible implementation of the U.N.’s Agenda 21 on the nations of the world and thus bringing back home to theUnited States? The beginning comparison between the first of the four areas contained in Agenda 21, “Social and economic issues such as international cooperation to accelerate sustainable development, combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, demographic dynamics and sustainability, and protecting and promoting human health” and the Rockefeller Report was established.
In this part, I am not only going to explore what the Rockefeller Report has to say about the second area that Agenda 21 addresses, “Conservation and management of resources for development, such as protection of the atmosphere, combating deforestation, combating desertification and drought, promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development, conservation of biological diversity, protection of freshwater resources and the oceans, and the sound management of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes.”  However, I will be emphasizing and commenting on certain items I feel the reader should consider.
Like all Commissions formed by Presidential or Congress decree, the Rockefeller Commission was no different; it reached out to private “concern” to evaluate the demand for resources and the effect on the environment. In this case, nearly all of the source material for this section comes from Resources for the Future, Inc. (RFF). Please remember, these conclusions are from 1972, and are based on the examination of the consequences of the population growing according to a 2 child projection and the 3 child projection. 
“Americahas always faced choices and always will. What matters is the range of choice we have and the urgency with which the need to choose is thrust upon us. The evidence indicates that continued population growth narrows our choices and forces us to choose in haste.
From the standpoint of resources and the environment, theUnited Statescan cope with rapid population growth for the next 30 to 50 years. But doing so will become an increasingly unpleasant and risky business; unpleasant because “coping” with growth means adopting solutions we don’t like; risky because it means adopting solutions before we understand them. Within theUnited States, the risks are ecological and social. And, there are risks which involve our relationship with the rest of the world.
According to the RFF report,America“is tampering with the ecosystem in many ways, the consequences of which we do not begin to understand. The crude methods used to estimate the effect of emissions on air quality and the damages and costs of urban pollution illustrate our ignorance all too well. Worse yet is our understanding of the second class of pollutants, bypassed in our analysis precisely because we know so little about them. Because such pollutants endure longer, because they are highly poisonous in small doses, because new pollutants are continually being introduced, and because there are long time lags between emissions and the appearance of damages, we shall not quickly improve our knowledge in this area.
Beyond pollution, there are profound ecological impacts such as the simplification and destabilization of ecosystems associated with modern one-crop agriculture; the reduction in the variety of gene pools in our most important plants; the threat to the productivity of the sea through the filling-in of salt marshes; the unknown consequences of climate changes caused by man’s activities (Is this beginning of the Climate Change campaign? ..OM) and many more.
Population growth is clearly not the sole culprit in ecological damage. To believe that it is, is to confuse how things are done with how many people are doing them. Much of the damage we do results from efforts to satisfy fairly trivial preferences; for unblemished fruit, detergents, rapidly accelerating cars, and bright colored paper products. We can and should cut back on frivolous and extravagant consumption that pollutes (Does this sound familiar?…OM). The way things are done can, to a significant degree, be changed regardless of how many people are doing them. But the overall effect is a product of numbers times styles of life taken together. One multiplies the other to produce the total impact.
The real risk lies in the fact that increasing numbers press us to adopt new technologies before we know what we are doing. The more of us there are the greater is the temptation to introduce solutions before their side effects are known. It might be far better environmentally to postpone the introduction of nuclear power plants until the inherently cleaner fusion reactors are developed. When one pesticide or food additive is found to be dangerous to man, it is replaced with another about which we know less. We undertake the expenditure of billions on water treatment, without knowing whether the benefits outweigh the costs of other opportunities foregone. Slower population growth will not eliminate this situation, but it will reduce the urgency, the “crash program” character of much that we do. It will buy time for the development of sensible solutions.
We can cope with population growth for another half century if we have to; the question is whether we want to. We can cope with resource shortages —if we cannot mine a resource, we can import, design around it, find a substitute, or reduce consumption. Where water deficits threaten, we can choose between charging more for its use, transferring people and industry to other parts of the country, and constructing longer and larger canals. If pollution emissions cannot be tolerated, we can change production processes, improve treatment, separate polluters from their victims, treat the symptoms, or simply produce less of the commodity causing the pollution. Congestion during commuter hours can be handled by restricting the use of private cars (Failing to drill for our own oil, being at the whim of the OPEC?..OM), developing mass transit, and staggering work hours. Congestion at recreation sites can be handled by building additional facilities, improving management, encouraging substitutes such as foreign travel, and if necessary, by staggering vacations (Government control..OM). Even land shortages for agriculture can be handled, given sufficient lead time, through farming the sea, changing our diet (The forcing of Americans to “avoid” certain foods?…OM), developing synthetic foods, and so forth.
Such changes pose physical, technical, and managerial challenges that we can probably meet if we must. But in so doing, we shall pay a cost reckoned not in dollars but in our way of life.
Population growth forces upon us slow but irreversible changes in life style. Imbedded in our traditions as to what constitutes the American way of life is freedom from public regulation, virtually free use of water; access to uncongested, unregulated roadways; freedom to do as we please with what we own; freedom from permits, licenses, fees, red tape, and bureaucrats; and freedom to fish, swim, and camp where and when we will. Clearly, we do not live this way now. Maybe we never did. But everything is relative. The population of 2020 may look back with envy on what, from their vantage point, appears to be our relatively unfettered way of life.
Conservation of water resources, restrictions on pollution emissions, limitations on fertilizer and pesticides, preservation of wilderness areas, and protection of animal life threatened by man, all require public regulation. Rules must be set and enforced, complaints heard and adjudicated. Granted, the more we can find means of relying on the price system the easier will be the bureaucratic task. Indeed, we ought to be experimenting right now with ways of making price incentives induce appropriate use of the environment and resources. At present, most monetary incentives work the wrong way, inducing waste and pollution rather than the opposite.
But even if effluent charges and user fees became universal, they will have to be set administratively; emissions and use will have to be metered, and fees collected. It appears inevitable that a larger portion of our lives will be devoted to filling out forms, arguing with the computer or its representatives, appealing decisions, waiting for our case to be handled, finding ways to evade or to move ahead in line (Is this what is happening now? How many news reports, talk shows have been devoted to just how long it takes to get a permit to build anything in America?…OM). In many small ways, everyday life will become more contrived.
Many such changes will have to occur, no matter which population projection occurs. But the difference, small at first, would grow with time until; a half century from now, the two societies may appear qualitatively different.
Another price we pay for having to cope with continued population growth is the pressure to keep on postponing the solution of social problems. While growth continues, top priority will be given to finding the necessary resources, controlling pollutants, correcting the damages they have done, and building ever larger water canals, highways, and mass transit systems. A large and perhaps growing fraction of our physical and intellectual capital is directly or indirectly devoted to these tasks —to finding ways to cope with the problems that continued growth generates. From past experience, we can predict with a fair degree of confidence that such priorities will continue to subordinate efforts devoted to resolving fundamental social problems.
When something must give because the system is becoming overloaded, it is unlikely to be the building of another dam.(Unless you have a group of Progressive funded organizations to use the EPA and other Federal organizations, including the courts to stop the construction….OM)
The point is that continued population growth limits our options. In the case of the larger population, with less land per person and more people to accommodate, there are fewer alternatives, less room for diversity, less room for error. To cope with continued growth, technology must advance; lifestyles must change (or the government WILL force you to change…OM). Slower population growth offers us the difference between choice and necessity, between prudence and living dangerously.
The research done for the Commission, by RFF, showed that theUnited Stateswill greatly enlarge its demands on world resources, especially minerals and petroleum, over the decades ahead. We will be requiring substantially larger imports of many minerals, such as chromium, vanadium, cobalt, and nickel, for which domestic supplies are not available or are available only at substantially higher costs.
The demand of other countries for minerals, petroleum, and other resources will certainly also rise sharply over the coming decades. This will result from rapid increases in output per person in other industrialized countries and from the rapid modernization of agriculture and industry in developing countries. The rates of increase in production in other parts of the world are likely to be higher than those of theUnited States. Their rates of increase in demand for mineral supplies are likely to rise even more sharply, because they are at an earlier stage of the industrialization process and because the composition of their GNP includes proportionately more goods and fewer services than does that of the United States.
Taking into account the huge increases in population which are in prospect, it seems clear that demands for natural resources in other parts of the world will rise more rapidly than demands in the United States; thus, the share of the United States in the use of world resources will steadily decline. For example, projections made for the Commission indicate that over the next 50 years the share of the United States in the world’s use of aluminum may decline from 37 percent in 1968 to as low as nine percent by the year 2020. In the same time period, the share of theUnited Statesof total world copper requirements may drop from 22 percent to five percent.
While all such figures necessarily reflect uncertain assumptions about production, income, and technology, nevertheless they indicate the extremely important extent to which theUnited Statesis inextricably involved in the development and use of resources on a worldwide scale.
Our research also demonstrates that environmental issues will have to be faced increasingly on an international basis over the years ahead. There are already conspicuous cases of environmental damage and risk which cannot be solved on a national basis. The continuing problem of petroleum pollution in the oceans is such a case. Neither the oceans nor the atmosphere can be successfully dealt with if one looks only at the territory within a nation’s boundary. And many additional issues of international ecological significance will be increasingly important ―such as the effects of enormous increases in world use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the environmental impact of multi-national corporations, and many more.
The Commission has been deeply impressed by the unprecedented size and significance of the looming problems of resources and environment on a world scale. We see the need for much greater efforts than are underway now to analyze and understand these problems and to develop international policies and programs to deal with them. We foresee potentially grave issues of clashing interests among nations and world regions, which could have very serious effects on theUnited States.
Therefore, we believe strongly that, in its own interest, the United States should work positively and constructively with other countries and international organizations in analyzing and solving problems related to natural resources and the environment in the world. We have made no special study of the detailed policies and programs which the United States should pursue for these purposes. We do now emphatically urge, however, that the nation join vigorously and cooperatively in solving problems of international trade, assistance to less developed countries, and other pressing issues which will affect so sharply not only the future well-being of others in the world but the direct prospects for a sensible and respectable future for ourselves. We should not approach such problems in a spirit of charity or largesse. Our own future depends heavily on the evolution of a sensible international economic order, capable of dealing with natural resources and environmental conditions on a world scale. (For those who may have forgotten, is this not the same as “Conservation and management of resources for development, such as protection of the atmosphere, combating deforestation, combating desertification and drought, promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development, conservation of biological diversity, protection of freshwater resources and the oceans, and the sound management of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes.”)
Our consideration of the problems and prospects involved in this country’s long-term future convinces us that an important dimension of policy formation is being overlooked. This dimension involves the identification, study, and initiation of actions with respect to future problems that may require lead times of decades rather than years to resolve. There is a need for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the long-term implications of demographic changes, of future resource demands and supplies, of possible pollution overload situations, and of the underlying trends in technology and patterns of social behavior that influence these factors.
Once future problems are identified, there is a need to undertake the necessary research and development and to formulate the policies to resolve them. We need to study our social, political, and economic institutions with a view towards recommending modifications that will reduce the discrepancy between the private and the public interest. Practical procedures for utilizing the effluent charge approach to environmental quality management and for initiating a rational system of land-use planning are important cases in point. We need to develop technologies that conserve particularly scarce physical and environmental resources. While appropriate effluent charges will encourage private business to move in this direction, government sponsorship of “yardstick” research on industrial technologies is necessary, particularly when our concern is with the problems farther in the future than private business can afford to look.
While parts of these tasks are being performed by isolated agencies, coordination and analytical assessment on a broad level are lacking. Private business firms and most government agencies are by necessity too present-oriented or mission-oriented to serve these functions adequately; nor can they be left to ad hoc commissions such as this one. On the other hand, we do feel that some group should be assigned central responsibility for such functions. Such a body would serve as a “lobby for the future” to identify potential population, resource, and environmental problems well in advance of their occurrence; to establish priorities and sponsor technical and social research directed towards their resolution; and where necessary to formulate and recommend policies to that end. (The foundation of the United Nation’s Environmental Programme in 1972, following the Stockholm Conference earlier that year?….OM)
Old Marine (Researcher and Author)