Is sustainability a left-wing plot?

Men arguingIs sustainability just a new buzzword for the old progressive plot to force their agenda on American culture?

I think not. If I thought so, I wouldn’t be blogging on the subject.

On the other hand, I increasingly find the progressive agenda distasteful.

Progressives appear to hate technology, eating meat, the thought of anyone making a profit, and the traditional moral fabric of American society.

Above all, I detest the shrillness of the rhetoric. There is no identifiable group of people today more utterly intolerant and bigoted than progressives.

In the 1970s, progressives warned about the “population bomb.” India and Pakistan, they said, could never become self-sufficient in food, and mass starvation was inevitable. Meanwhile, Norman Borlaug was winning the Nobel Peace Prize for making India and Pakistan self-sufficient in food. Progressives haven’t yet wrapped their minds around that fact.

Progressives of the time also attacked the church and traditional moral values, as if taking care of the environment required the sexual revolution and abortion on demand. At least one wrote that people would not voluntarily take the right steps and must therefore be coerced by government regulation.

Those are two good reasons why conservatives have trouble dealing with the issue of sustainability. Unfortunately, for every progressive excess there is an equal and opposite conservative excess. Here are some examples:

  • The push for sustainability is nothing but a left-wing plot because it comes from the same people who advocate for the gay and transgendered community, along with the most extreme view of women’s rights and racial justice. It comes from the same people who denounce “white privilege,” police brutality, and the “1%.”
  • Any criticism of our political, social, economic, and business systems is part of a plot to overthrow them and advocate for socialism.
  • Exploring the consequences of eating habits and other aspects of lifestyle are an attempt to brainwash the public, and especially college students.
  • Exhortations to recycle, compost, take public transportation, and the like are nothing more than preaching political correctness.
  • Exploring sustainable practices can lead only to an authoritarian and centralized state.
  • Sustainability appeals to young people in an increasingly secularized society because of its quasi-religious message, with its saints and prophets.
  • By causing students to obsess over recycling napkins and divesting from fossil fuel industries, colleges can prevent them from considering more serious issues, such as the rising cost and declining benefit of a college education.

Sustainability-diagram-v4“Conservative” and “conservation” come from the same root word. How anyone can with a straight face define a conservatism without conservation is beyond me.

Conservationists from the entire political spectrum eagerly embraced Earth Day in 1970. When they found that they were also taking aim at pollution and other issues not related to land use, they began to call themselves environmentalists.

The concept of sustainability arose from the realization that environmental issues can’t be separated from economic and social issues. Progressives have not cornered the market on these concerns, their rhetorical claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

In fact, considering progressive hostility to capitalism, it’s important to recognize that sustainability means combining concerns for planet, people, and profit so that no one of them gets out of balance.

While conservatives obsess over the progressive agenda of increased government power and control, businesses are now taking the lead (or if you’ll excuse the pun, the LEED) in moving to a more sustainable way of using resources.

It’s up to those of us who don’t occupy the fringes to take seriously the work of communicating sustainability.

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Sources:
Campus sustainability: going green is just part of the plot / Katherine Kersten (StarTribune) June 28, 2015.
Before and after the first Earth Day, 1970 / David M. Guion (Kindle edition).

Photo credits:
Men arguing. Some rights reserved by o5com
Sustainability diagram. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons.


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