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More Conspiracy Theory

A headline on yesterday’s New York Times front page, “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” took me back to my adolescence in Dallas in the late 1950s.  Dallas then as now was a hotbed of political “conservatives,” and we had John Birchers, billionaire H. L. Hunt and the Dallas Morning News as opinion makers.  Strict racial segregation was aggressively defended by prominent churchmen and by the Dallas business and political establishment;  in education, racial segregation was one of only two topics that was totally off-limits for discussion  in my all-white high school debate club.   There were loud attacks on the United Nations as a “communist conspiracy.”  Today’s Tea Party “conservatives” attack a 1992 United Nations aspirational resolution called Agenda 21.  Agenda 21, a non-binding collection of recommendations,  asks nations to “conserve” in its true and best meaning – to use fewer resources, including open land.  Despite findings and recommendations that seem fairly bland, Agenda 21 has generated heated opposition, including here in Dallas.Recently, the national Republican Party issued a resolution attacking the “destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21, and there have been accusations that it is part of a United Nations plot.

I summarize as follows today’s “conservative”  argument against government land use controls, efforts to reduce  carbon footprints and many EPA regulations: (1) human-caused global warming is a hoax, and there is no need to limit American consumption of energy and other resources beyond what free markets do; (2) government restrictions on what a person can do with his own property are generally bad; and (3) “big government” is the enemy of personal freedom and the American way.  That argument appeals to voters  in Dallas and elsewhere in our complex country, and it has served as an effective political stop against actions designed to meet environmental threats.

I work with a man who commanded a U.S. Army  infantry company in combat in Vietnam.  Based on those experiences, he knows that people act, even act radically, when they believe their survival is threatened.  There is climate change evidence available to each of us which is scary – see earlier  posts describing the work of climate scientists including James Hansen and James Lovelock.  The earth’s systems are very complicated, but the numbers show that CO2 and other greenhouse gases have risen quickly during my lifetime, that global temperatures have been increasing for several decades, and that extreme .

Science tells us that our way of life, and life itself,  is threatened by climate change and by deterioration of natural systems.  The blog’s goal is to grow  the political power and the political courage needed to confront the environmental  problems recent generations have created.  To me, Agenda 21 is truly “conservative” set of recommendations, and we will need to go well beyond those guides to protect ourselves.


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