“Our Common Future” Revisited–how did the roadmap for the green juggernaut fare over 30 years?

By Neil Lock

Thirty years ago, in April 1987, a new United Nations report was published. It came from the recently established World Commission on Environment and Development, and its title was Our Common Future. It was 300 pages long; and its preparation, which took two and a half years, had involved 23 commissioners and 70 or so experts and support staff. In addition, they solicited inputs from people and organizations, in many different countries, who had concerns about environmental and development issues. You can find the full text of the report at [[1]].

Today, most people seem unaware of this report. That’s a pity. For this is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had such a huge, adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. The 30th anniversary is, I think, a good time to look back at, and to re-evaluate, this report. Not only in its own terms, such as asking how significant the issues it raised have proven to be, and how well these issues have been dealt with in the meantime. But also from a broader perspective, asking how well the process, both scientific and political, has measured up to the reasonable expectations of the people who have been subjected to its consequences.

Why have I chosen to tackle such a wide subject? First, because I’m something of a generalist; I seek to understand the big picture. And second, because in recent months, so it seems to me, the climate (sic) of thought on matters environmental has begun to change. Away from the log-jam of alarmism and green orthodoxy in which it has been stuck for 25 years and more; and slowly, oh so slowly, in a direction towards a more rational view. So if there is anything I can do to help this process along, I think, it’s in my interests to do it.

The report in context

Two strands of United Nations activity led to Our Common Future. One was environmentalist. The other was internationalist or globalist. One of the most significant things about this report, for me, is that it was the nexus where these two strands came together.

The environmentalist strand began in 1972, with the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Olof Palme, the controversial Swedish socialist prime minister, was host. Maurice Strong, who will appear repeatedly in what follows, was secretary general. The conference produced a Declaration and an Action Plan; but, perhaps more importantly, it led to the creation of the UN Environment Programme, with Strong as its first director.

On the same strand, the World Charter for Nature [[2]] was a 1982 UN resolution. This contained many of the same ideas and sentiments as later UN environmental documents like the 1992 Rio Declaration. It also included an extreme formulation of the precautionary principle, stating: “Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled,” and “where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed.” The Charter was passed by 111 votes to 1, with 18 abstentions. The USA was the only country voting against.

The internationalist strand began with a 1980 commission headed by German social democrat and former Chancellor, Willy Brandt; Olof Palme was among the commission members. Its report was titled A Programme for Survival [[3]].The general tone of the report was alarmist. And it showed signs of future convergence with the environmentalist strand. This is apparent in phrases like: “All nations have to cooperate more urgently in international management of the atmosphere and other global commons, and in the prevention of irreversible ecological damage.” And: “An orderly transition is required from high dependence on increasingly scarce nonrenewable energy sources.” The report also advocates: “A new principle for international taxation for development purposes.” “Reform of the international monetary system.” And: “Official Development Assistance from industrialized countries to the level of 0.7 per cent of GNP by 1985.” That’s a lot of money – and we’re still paying it today.

This was followed by a 1983 report from Brandt and many of the same commissioners. Its title was Common Crisis North-South: Co-operation for World Recovery [[4]]. Its main focus was on international financial reforms. A little earlier, a commission headed by Palme himself had produced Common Security: A Blueprint for Survival, addressing issues of war and international security. (Palme’s report, of course, was overtaken within a decade by the collapse of the Soviet Union.) Our Common Future explicitly acknowledges both these reports as its precursors.

The commissioners

The report relates how the commissioners were selected. In 1983 the UN secretary general, at the time Javier Perez de Cuellar, appointed the commission’s chairman and vice-chairman. The chairman was Gro Harlem Brundtland; Norwegian social democrat party leader, formerly (and again later) prime minister of Norway, and a vice president of the Socialist International. The vice-chairman was Mansour Khalid, a former Sudanese foreign minister with long time links to the UN. The two of them then selected the remaining commissioners, under the condition that at least half of them had to be from the developing world.

But not all the commissioners they chose came from the third world. There were two Canadians among them; one was Maurice Strong, whom I’ve already mentioned. Starting in oil, Strong had a scandal-ridden business career alongside his many projects at the UN and his environmentalist activism. And in 1997 he articulated his disdain for our civilization, as follows: “Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.” The other Canadian was Jim MacNeill, one of the first career environmentalists, and a long time associate of Strong. There was an American, too: William D. Ruckelshaus, first director of the Environmental Protection Agency, and another Strong associate.

Here are brief bios of the other commissioners. A German social democrat politician and former minister of transport. A member of the Italian Agnelli family who control Fiat, also a centre left politician. A Japanese economist and politician, executive committee member of the Club of Rome and chairman of World Wildlife Fund Japan. A Saudi engineer. A Mexican sociologist, who resigned from the commission before the report was published. A Zimbabwean politician with strong UN connections. A Côte d’Ivoire military man and politician. A Hungarian scientist and environmentalist, later associated with Mikhail Gorbachev’s activist Green Cross International. A Chinese professor with “more than 40 years’ experience in ecological and environmental research and education.” A Colombian environmentalist. An Indian judge at the World Court. A Brazilian environmentalist, head of the first federal environmental agency there. A Guyana politician, who had earlier been on Willy Brandt’s commission. An Algerian diplomat with a long UN connection. An Indonesian politician, who had held a succession of environmental posts. A Nigerian diplomat and former agriculture minister. A Russian zoologist, described as “one of the pioneers of the Russian environmental movement.” And the last president of Slovenia before the fall of communism; another with a long history at the UN.

What connected these commissioners to each other? A strong, deep seated environmentalist conviction was common to many of them. A long connection with the UN was also shared by several. Socialism was a third connecting thread. No less than four of the commissioners came from communist countries; two more, including the chairman, were social democrat politicians.

Moreover, everyone on the commission was a beneficiary of big government; and therefore would tend to favour anything that expanded it. And the third world commissioners would surely have had, at the backs of their minds, a desire to use this opportunity to screw as much wealth out of the West as possible.

Who was there, on that UN commission, who both would and could stand up for us honest Western business and working people against socialism and deep green environmentalism? I can’t see one. Can you? Worse; the commission was ripe for group polarization [[5]], which can lead a group to reach a more extreme position after discussion than they would have done as individuals before it. Brundtland herself says: “As we worked, nationalism and the artificial divides between ‘industrialized’ and ‘developing’, between East and West, receded. In their place emerged a common concern for the planet and the interlocked ecological and economic threats with which its people, institutions, and governments now grapple.”

The issues raised

Here’s a list of the main environmental issues, on which Our Common Future raised alarms 30 years ago. (1) Desertification, notably in the Sahel area just south of the Sahara. (2) The clearing of forests, particularly in the tropics. (3) Loss of species and of biodiversity. (4) Acid rain, resulting from pollution, and killing forests, lakes and soils. (5) Catastrophic global warming caused by CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. (6) Depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. (7) Loss of coral reefs. (8) Military proliferation and the threat of nuclear war. (9) Toxic and nuclear waste disposal. (10) Increasing incidence of disasters.

Interestingly, scarcity of fossil fuel resources, while mentioned in the report, was not seen as a major issue in itself. It was the consequences of using those fossil fuels, CO2-caused global warming and to a lesser extent pollution, that the commissioners saw as major problems.

Opining that “Environment and development are not separate challenges; they are inexorably linked,” the report also raised alarms on: (11) Population growth. (12) Poverty. (13) International economic inequality. (14) The interests of future generations. It is in this last context that the report introduced its novel and central concept of “sustainable development.” Such development, it says, “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

No doubt, some of these concerns were both real and apparently pressing back in 1987. But what the commission did was, in effect, to mix them all up and turn them into a single giant bogeyman. From there, it wasn’t hard to move on to demanding that Action! be taken against this bogeyman. That Action! had to be political. And it had to be taken Now! So, the report calls for “sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond.” And it abounds with phrases like: “We call for a common endeavour and for new norms of behaviour at all levels and in the interests of all.” “Development involves a progressive transformation of economy and society.” And: “We are serving notice… that the time has come to take the decisions needed.”

Furthermore, the Action! the report demanded was intended, all along, to be very painful to ordinary business and working people in the West. Maurice Strong may well have been licking his chops at what he and his fellow commissioners had in mind to do to us and to our Western civilization. The phrase “The industrial world has already used much of the planet’s ecological capital” gives the game away. As does: “Many of us live beyond the world’s ecological means, for instance in our patterns of energy use.” And: “The transition to sustainable development will require a range of public policy choices that are inherently complex and politically difficult. Reversing unsustainable development policies at the national and international level will require immense efforts to inform the public and secure its support.”

Thus was born the green leviathan.

Some low-lights

I couldn’t resist quoting a few assorted low-lights from the report.

On global warming, we have: “This ‘greenhouse effect’ may by early next century have increased average global temperatures enough to shift agricultural production areas, raise sea levels to flood coastal cities, and disrupt national economies.” Well, here we are a sixth of the way through that next century. And how much have global temperatures risen? From satellite measurements, the rise from 1987 to 2015 (stopping there to avoid the perturbations caused by the recent El Niňo) looks to be about 0.3 degrees Centigrade [[6]]. And how much sea level rise has there been? In most of the world, sea levels are rising between zero and 3 millimetres per year [[7]]. And in several coastal cities with long and reliable sea level records, levels are rising 1 to 2 millimetres per year, without much change in the rate since the early 20th century [[8]].

Then: “There is a growing scientific consensus that species are disappearing at rates never before witnessed on the planet.” That’s over the top, particularly since it goes on to say: “The world is losing precisely those species about which it knows nothing or little.” And later: “We have no accurate figures on the current rates of extinctions.”

In the area of energy, the report discussed a number of alternatives to fossil fuels, including solar and wind. It claimed that wind power in California “may possibly be competitive with other power generated there within a decade.” But it failed to mention the intermittency of both solar and wind power, and that because of this they need to be backed up by other sources of power, which must also be paid for. Was that, perhaps, lying by omission?

Chernobyl is cited as a disaster which “appeared to justify the grave predictions about the human future that were becoming commonplace during the mid-1980s.” The report acknowledges that the cause of the explosion was “a series of infringements of the official safety regulations.” But despite this, it generally plays up the risks of nuclear energy, while downplaying its benefits.

As to transport, you can see in embryo the arguments about fuel economy and air pollution, which environmentalists and politicians have since used to demonize cars and car drivers. But the report focused in this area mainly on third world countries and cities. The agenda of forcing drivers in the West out of our cars and into public transport seems to have come along later. And interestingly, Our Common Future doesn’t mention air transport at all. Nor even does Agenda 21, which followed it five years later. Hatred of the aeroplane is another skein of the neo-luddism, which greens have continued to develop during the last 30 years.

Consequences of the report

Just as Our Common Future represented a convergence of two strands of UN activity, so it subsequently provided impetus in several different directions. Most notably, at the Rio “Earth Summit” in June 1992, whose secretary general was Maurice Strong. (Him, again!)

At that conference, a number of proposals were agreed. They included a binding “Framework Convention on Climate Change,” which led to the yearly “Conference of the Parties” meetings. These meetings included those in Copenhagen (2009) and Paris (2015), both of which set out to reach binding agreements to keep global temperatures below some completely arbitrary limit.

The agreements in Rio also included a “Convention on Biological Diversity,” Agenda 21 [[9]] and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development [[10]]. I recommend a quick read of the latter, if you have a sick bowl handy. It talks of living “in harmony with nature,” but it never mentions human nature. It fails to recognize that this is our planet, our environment. It fails to uphold our freedom to use our creativity and dynamism to make our planet a better place – a warm, comfortable home and a beautiful garden for humanity. Instead, it sets out a series of politically correct platitudes, which amount to awarding politicians and bureaucrats powers to micro-manage all our lives in the name of the environment.

As to Agenda 21, I don’t recommend reading it. It consists of 350 pages of bureaucratese, in which the word “women” occurs more than 250 times. And it takes up where Our Common Future left off. “Significant changes in the consumption patterns of industries, Governments, households and individuals.” Recycling as a religion. “Favouring high-occupancy public transport.” A “culture of safety.” And much more. But the clever thing about Agenda 21 – another Strong brainwave, I guess – is that it is to be implemented at the local government level. So, because it wasn’t seen as a national political issue, it passed under many people’s radar.

Who signed up to all this stuff? It was your (and my) supposed “representatives.” And it wasn’t only socialists that were eager to sign up. President George H.W. Bush signed for the USA. And the UK prime minister at the time was John Major, a Tory. I find it hard – no, impossible – to believe that they did these things by mistake. No; knowing what they were doing, they sold us all down the Rio.

Misuse of the precautionary principle

The most egregious of all the enviro abuses, however, is a more abstract one. That is, the misuse – indeed, inversion – of the precautionary principle.

In Our Common Future, the relevant words are these. “How much certainty should governments require before agreeing to take action? If they wait until significant climate change is demonstrated, it may be too late for any countermeasures to be effective against the inertia by then stored in this massive global system.” And, later in the same paragraph, it recommends: “the development of internationally agreed policies for the reduction of the causative gases.”

What is the precautionary principle? In its original form, it’s usually put as “look before you leap.” Though some go further, and equate it with the Hippocratic oath for doctors: “First, do no harm.” All this is very sensible advice. Before they put a new product on the market, for example, sane business people will test it thoroughly to check it has no bad side-effects. If they don’t do this, and something goes wrong, they will face lawsuits, and perhaps worse.

An important characteristic of the principle is that the burden of proof must always be on those who want to make change. But over the years, green and big-government activists have contrived to pervert the principle, and reverse the burden of proof. A brief article written back in 1999 by the Social Issues Research Centre [[11]] shows how they did it.

Our industrial civilization has existed since the late 18th century – longer than most of the world’s nations, and way longer than the UN. And it has brought us – all of us – huge nett benefits over that time. Therefore, the burden of proving the case, that human CO2 emissions would cause severe environmental damage, had to be on those seeking change; that is, on the accusers. However, their clever reversal of the burden of proof leaves those of us, who dispute their accusations, in the impossible situation of having to prove a negative. As the SIRC article points out, it’s like being required to prove that there are no fairies at the bottom of your garden.

Those that sought to pervert the precautionary principle also used another, very dishonest, sound-bite. This was an aphorism attributed to Carl Sagan: “Absence of evidence of risk is not evidence of absence of risk.” But this statement, while true in a strict sense, is very misleading. In reality, absence of evidence of something is evidence towards the non-existence of that thing. Absence of evidence that there is an elephant in your living room doesn’t, indeed, prove that there is no elephant in your living room. But, particularly when the search is repeated many times with negative results each time, it suggests that there very probably isn’t.

Imagine, if you will, the judge in a murder trial telling the jury: “Absence of evidence of guilt is not evidence of absence of guilt.” Would a jury, believing this, convict the defendant even if there is no evidence against him? That would go against all sane norms of justice. And yet, that is how they wanted us to think.

Activist misconduct

To top all this, the activists and their politician and media friends have not behaved well in their dealings with us.

At the scientific level, as those who follow the facts will know, they have doctored evidence, such as past temperatures. They have presented chicanery like Mann’s hockey stick as if it was science. They continue to claim that their models are “robust,” even when their predictions repeatedly fail. They call those who disagree with them nasty names like “deniers.” They have tried to stop publication of scientific papers that disagree with their agenda; and they have persecuted scientists who have opposed it, like Willie Soon.

Furthermore, the politicians and activists are hypocrites, trying to coerce us out of cars and planes while they themselves continue to use them. Their media spout a torrent of propaganda, with a new, unfounded scare every few days. And they use bait and switch tactics, for example in the recent UK diesel scandal; having created incentives for manufacturers to make, and for people to buy, more polluting cars rather than less polluting, they then slap heavy “toxin taxes” on these cars. If these are the “new norms of behaviour” Our Common Future was calling for, I think we’d all be better off without them.

To return to the murder trial analogy. Not only has the court inverted the burden of proof. But the prosecution have presented false evidence, committed perjury, and – increasingly – failed to produce hard, factual evidence of their case. The judge has forbidden the defence to call its most expert witnesses. The prosecution have insulted and libelled those defence witnesses who do manage to testify, and the judge has allowed them to continue doing it. It is as if the court is set up to reach only one possible verdict: Guilty. Such conduct would be unacceptable in a murder trial. How much more reprehensible, then, is it when the defendant in the dock is our entire civilization? When the prosperity and the freedoms of everyone on the planet are at stake?

So, how did we do?

Now, I’ll look at the current status, as far as I can work it out, of each of the accusations against us. Correction of any misapprehensions, or provision of further details, will be much appreciated.

(1): Desertification. The Sahel has recovered from the droughts of the 1980s [[12]]. On the wider scale, NASA publishes an animation [[13]] of world-wide vegetation activity over the period 2000 to 2016. While there’s an obvious yearly cycle, I would expect any areas suffering desertification to show less and less vegetation as the years go on. There are good years and bad years; but I, at least, don’t see any particular trend.

(2): Forests. Tropical deforestation halved between 1980-95 and 1996-2010, and loss of temperate forests is now very small [[14]].

(3): Species loss. It’s difficult to find hard data on this. Even the number of species on the planet is hugely uncertain; the best estimate I could find is 8.7 million “eukaryotic” (multi-cellular) species [[15]]. As Our Common Future admitted, there were no accurate figures on extinction rates in 1987. Nor have I been able to find any today. So, this accusation cannot be substantiated or denied without far more specifics. At least down to the level of individual species, with proof of their former existence, proof of extinction, approximate date of extinction and evidence that proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that humans caused it.

(4): Acid rain. The cause of acidification seems to have been oxides of sulphur and nitrogen in the atmosphere. Emission of sulphur oxides from coal fired power has been cured by technology [[16]]. Nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles have been greatly reduced, first by unleaded fuel, then by catalytic converters, and in diesel engines technologies like exhaust gas recirculation and soot traps. The fix to the problem is in.

Of course, green activists never let any excuse for alarm go to waste; they have now re-badged the problem as one of air quality. And there is a particular difficulty with vehicle emissions in the European Union, where it seems that as soon as manufacturers catch up to one set of standards, the EU significantly tightens them again.

(5): Catastrophic global warming due to human CO2 emissions. To those who look at the facts with an unbiased eye, this accusation is no longer scientifically credible. The issue is now entirely political. This makes it more important than ever for those who understand the facts to communicate them as best they can. I do think we’re starting to make a tiny bit of headway; but there’s still a long way to go.

(6): Ozone depletion. In my own mind, I’m not sure whether this really was caused by CFCs, or just part of a natural cycle. But as of 2016, the problem – if there was one – is said to be all but solved [[17]].

(7): Coral reef depletion. Here also, I found quantitative information hard to find. Back in the 1970s, estimates of total reef area were about 600,000 sq.km. More modern estimates are in the 250,000 to 350,000 sq.km. range. With this level of uncertainty, any claim of loss is unverifiable. However, the statement in Our Common Future that “Coral reefs … are being depleted at rates that may leave little but degraded remnants by early next century” has clearly not been borne out.

(8): Military proliferation and nuclear war. Some progress has been made here; the collapse of the Soviet Union helped a lot. And, despite the wars in the Middle East, statistics do seem to show that deaths in war are gradually going down. But consider this: It isn’t ordinary people who start wars, but politicians. The problem is theirs, not ours.

(9): Toxic and nuclear waste disposal. Progress on this one seems to be very slow; the delay to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility is a case in point [[18]]. There is also opposition to deep landfills for the storage of toxic waste. But it’s curious that much of this opposition comes from the very same quarters that have been touting the problem. To accuse us of causing a problem, and then to seek to block proposed solutions, seems to me to be a glaring case of bad faith.

(10): Increasing incidence of disasters. As far as natural catastrophes go, including flood and drought, deaths fell from the 1920s through to the 1990s, and have been roughly flat since then [[19]]. As to human caused disasters, there has been nothing even near the scale of the Bhopal chemical leak of 1984. Trawling Wikipedia’s list of disasters for human-caused civil disasters with over 1,000 deaths since 1986, I could see only one building collapse, three shipwrecks and two crushes during the Hajj pilgrimage.

(11): Population growth. This has been greatly lessened, particularly in the West. According to the CIA World Factbook [[20]], in 2016 only 105 countries out of 224 had fertility rates above the replacement level. The overall world fertility rate was 115% of replacement rate.

(12): Poverty. We’re making progress here. According to the World Bank, “The world attained the first Millennium Development Goal target—to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—five years ahead of schedule, in 2010.” [[21]]

(13): International economic inequality. This is a difficult one; since in most poor countries a major reason for the poverty is government corruption, which makes it hard for people to do business and to lift themselves out of poverty. However, what can be said is that exports and imports of developing countries have seen good growth. According to the World Trade Organization, “Between 1980 and 2011, developing economies raised their share in world exports from 34 per cent to 47 per cent and their share in world imports from 29 per cent to 42 per cent.” [[22]]

(14): The interests of future generations. It’s now 30 years since Our Common Future was published; more than a generation. During that time, the bulk of the costs of its recommendations have been borne by Western people in the productive part of their lives. So, haven’t we done our share – and far more? Isn’t it time that someone else started picking up the tab?

To sum up

After 30 years, each of the issues raised in Our Common Future is either fixed, well on the way to fixing, only a problem because standards are being relentlessly tightened, unverifiable, no longer credible as a problem, or Somebody Else’s Problem. I think we’ve done rather well – even looking at the matter in the politicians’ and environmentalists’ own terms. Isn’t it now, therefore, time to call off the dogs?

Instead of hounding us, will the green activists now shower us with the thanks we have earned? Will their politician friends stop tightening the regulatory noose with which they are strangling us, and get rid of all regulations that damage our environment? Will their media stop bombarding us with scary falsehoods? Will they all apologize to us, and compensate us for the waste of our money on all the green projects that failed to improve our environment? Will they censure the politicians that signed up to an agenda they must have known was against the interests of those they were supposed to represent? Will they denounce those that have corrupted and politicized science, and those that have persecuted, and suppressed the voices of, the experts who would speak up for us? Will they condemn those that perverted the precautionary principle, and those that have sought to pronounce us guilty without even a semblance of due process?

I think I hear a deafening silence.


[[1]] http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf

[[2]] http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/37/a37r007.htm

[[3]] http://files.globalmarshallplan.org/inhalt/psu_2.pdf. (Al Gore is credited with inventing the idea of a “global Marshall plan.”)

[[4]] http://files.globalmarshallplan.org/inhalt/coc_2.pdf

[[5]] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_polarization

[[6]] http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

[[7]] https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.html

[[8]] https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/03/29/recent-sea-level-change-at-major-cities/

[[9]] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Agenda21.pdf

[[10]] http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm

[[11]] http://www.sirc.org/articles/beware.html

[[12]] http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/mueller-sahel.pdf

[[13]] https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MOD17A2_M_PSN&d2=MOD13A2_M_NDVI

[[14]] https://ourworldindata.org/forest-cover/

[[15]] http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110823/full/news.2011.498.html

[[16]] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flue-gas_desulfurization

[[17]] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6296/269

[[18]] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository

[[19]] https://ourworldindata.org/natural-catastrophes/

[[20]] As reported by Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependencies_by_total_fertility_rate

[[21]] http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview

[[22]] https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/wtr13-2b_e.pdf

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Stephen Wilde
April 20, 2017 12:13 pm

Good overview.
Interesting to see how it all crept up on us.

K. Kilty
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
April 20, 2017 12:54 pm

I think most truly dire problems do creep up on people. Demographic changes, for instance, are absolutely invisible even when in plain sight. The westward looking Turks are probably wondering how their, now dire, demographic problem caught them so suddenly–and the Europeans seem to be absolutely ignorant of theirs. Yes it is fascinating to see how this green epidemic evolved, but no one ever learns much from such an analysis. We keep falling for the same scare stories over and over.
At the same time, many problems that people fret about never come to pass. I suspect that some of the differences in these two classes of worries depends on whether or not a free market can supply a solution.

Earl Jantzi
Reply to  K. Kilty
April 20, 2017 2:27 pm

IPCC official, Ottmar Edenhofer, speaking in November 2010: “But one must say clearly that we redistribute, de facto, the world’s wealth by climate policy. … one has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute, de facto, the world’s wealth…” “This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy, anymore.” http://www.nzzDOTch/aktuell/startseite/klimapolitik-verteilt-das-weltvermoegen-neu-1.8373227

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
April 20, 2017 5:26 pm

It all goes to show, the UN is moribund and a waste of resources. Better to quit that nest of parasites ASAP. Or at least to throw it out of New York, and relocate in a wonderland like Zimbabve.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
April 20, 2017 11:41 pm

I’ve come to the same conclusion. Not that all UN funded work were crap. But much of it is a nest of parasites that should be defunded. Loose money corrupts, and UN has a lot of loose money.

Santa Baby
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
April 21, 2017 12:52 am

A Marxist is mostly one of the opponents of the economical, social and legal order which has been handed down to the Western world from history. Why? Because they don’t fit in? And since the workers in the Western world did not rise and make a radical change of society trough a revolution they sat down instead to find surrogates.One of the surrogates is Adorno “Domination of Nature idea”. And I think it’s here the merger of Marxism and environmentalism created neomarxism. It’s dressed up as being environmental and climate politics, but it’s actually a neoMarxist take over and radical change of society.

Santa Baby
Reply to  Santa Baby
April 21, 2017 1:18 am

Harlem Brundtland was the Norwegian Minister of Environment 1974-79. Patrick Moore can tell how the leftist took over Greenpeace and changed the focus from scientific based to politically based. Today we have policy based “science” instead of policy based on science.

April 20, 2017 12:13 pm

Can’t get much more communist than that banner…

Earl Jantzi
Reply to  David
April 20, 2017 2:28 pm

22Jan2015”At a news conference [22Jan2015] in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity, but to destroy capitalism. “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said . Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”
Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors DOTcom/ibd-editorials/021015-738779-climate-change-scare-tool-to-destroy-capitalism.htm#ixzz3RXh5Tujn

Reply to  Earl Jantzi
April 20, 2017 2:43 pm

Capitalism has been around for as long as human civilization has been around. These people have no understanding of history as it really happened, and that is half of the problem.

April 20, 2017 12:32 pm

Acid rain was never a serious problem.
The ozone hole was never a problem at all.

Reply to  MarkW
April 20, 2017 2:45 pm

Correct on both. The “hole” in the ozone was a seasonal shift of the ozone layer as the earth’s profile in regards to the sun shifted from one pole to another. CFC’s are heavy gasses, and never reach the ozone layer before being destroyed by radiation.

Tom Halla
April 20, 2017 12:38 pm

It’s an expression of a mass movement, which is a common thing in politics and religion. The greens combine both, with the worst characteristics of both.
The major problem, as I see it, is politicians who are not adherents thinking the greens are a useful tool, rather than a sincere threat. Nixon, the Bushes, and a variety of European politicians supported the movement, despite not agreeing with all of the creed. It may prove as counterproductive as the conservative or royalist politicians in Germany who thought they could use the National Socialists to deal with the Communists and unions.

K. Kilty
April 20, 2017 12:44 pm

One notices a common sort of gaseous (some call it soaring) rhetoric in these UN calls for action, and in the carefully prepared speeches of our most recent President. I suspect a common genetic defect among all these do-gooder types.
As far as financial/monetary reform goes, the only sort I support is exactly that which will never occur: keeping the rent seekers and thieves at bay.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  K. Kilty
April 20, 2017 5:28 pm

It’s the HAS; Hot Air Syndrome, makes them rise above us common mortals.

J Mac
April 20, 2017 12:52 pm

Logoswrench, in a comment to the ‘VOX story, summed it up perfectly:
“Find The Right Lie To Get Them To Comply.”

April 20, 2017 1:02 pm

Since CAGW is a Superstitious Myth based on a Hoax, Your Logic is lost on True Believers. Nice Try, Anyway.

M Courtney
April 20, 2017 1:13 pm

The surprise at the support of Bush and Major is because the author sees things through a “Reds under the Bed” mentality.
This was never a sinister plot to take over the world.
This has always been about a lot of different people finding a single means of making lots of money.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  M Courtney
April 20, 2017 1:29 pm

Wrong. Although making money is always a powerful motivator, ideology is in fact a stronger one. And your socialist views are well-known in these parts.

Reply to  M Courtney
April 20, 2017 1:36 pm

Many of the leading lights have admitted that CAGW was just an excuse to do what they had been wanting to do anyway.
PS: There’s always this picture and many more like it.

J Mac
Reply to  MarkW
April 20, 2017 5:43 pm

The false projection quip ‘reds under the bed’ implies anyone disagreeing with socialism is irrationally ‘afraid of the boogey man’. It’s a classic Alynski style ‘Rules for Radicals’ means of denigrating anyone that disagrees with socialism.
“Capitalism is the disease. Socialism is the cure.” Same crap.
“Skepticism is the disease. Settled Science is the cure.” Same crap.

Reply to  M Courtney
April 20, 2017 1:51 pm

You accuse the author of seeing red’s under the bed?
When the public are being told sea level rise is an immediate threat. That global population rise is out of control. That global poverty is on the rise. That natural disasters are on the increase. That desertification is increasing. etc. etc. not including the latest whopper, that increased atmospheric CO2 is responsible for increased incidents of asthma!?
The United Nations has propagated and encouraged much of this nonsense, or at best, not stopped the blatant manipulation of facts, which suits it’s purpose of becoming the worlds single government.
The UK has suffered a generation of subservience to the EU bureaucratic machine, we really don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire following Brexit. The sooner this power grabbing scam is unravelled and exposed, the better.
And the lots of different people making lots of money is to the benefit of, and frequently funded by the UN who well know much of the money they provide to developing nations is gobbled up by corrupt governments. But the UN also knows that brings reliance and subservience from lots of nations who will dance to their tune eventually.

Earl Jantzi
Reply to  M Courtney
April 20, 2017 2:30 pm

Go back and study UN Agenda 21.

Reply to  Earl Jantzi
April 21, 2017 12:34 am

It is just bureaucratic mission statement boilerplate around sustainability. Not some existential threat.

Reply to  Earl Jantzi
April 21, 2017 10:11 am

Griffster, are you actually arguing that nobody tried to implement Agenda 21? Or that it wouldn’t have been a disaster had they actually managed to implement it?
Or are you just throwing out lies to change the subject again?

Reply to  Earl Jantzi
April 22, 2017 1:06 am

It is just bureaucratic mission statement boilerplate around sustainability. Not some existential threat.

I’m not too concerned about bureaucratic mission statements, but rather the excrement elected to lead it as the consequence. Let’s see which wins the French presidential election tomorrow. Or it doesn’t matter really, any of them will make Trump look like a saint.

M Courtney
Reply to  M Courtney
April 21, 2017 3:00 am

As expected, all the replies ignore actual evidence and stick with the narrative.
Now, I don’t really think you guys believe Bush and Major are socialists.
But it is clear that you cannot explain the observation of theoir suppport for the Green agenda and so you ignore it.
The irony is that you pretend that this is scepticism.
True scptics form understandings basedon evidence even if it opposes the majority view of one’s political position.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  M Courtney
April 21, 2017 3:34 am

Perhaps it is you that needs to remove the log from your own eye.

Reply to  M Courtney
April 21, 2017 7:32 am

“True scptics form understandings basedon evidence even if it opposes the majority view of one’s political position.”
Irony is truely a lost art.

Reply to  M Courtney
April 21, 2017 12:56 pm

M Courtney,
I think ideology can provide psychological cover of sorts for people who are greedy, impressionistic, resentful, self important, guilt ridden, sadistic, insecure, control freakish, etc., and that there is probably a wide range of “personal history” reasons someone might end up involved with an ideological movement, other than the ideology itself has actually convinced them on a pure reason/inspiration level. And, once involved even for inspiration/vision type reasons, that stuff can fade as other motivations and pressures become more powerful.
I suspect much of this UN agenda stuff is cover for organized crime, myself . .

April 20, 2017 1:27 pm

A few years before this report came out, I was visiting my dad at his house and we were watching TV together. There was a special report on about how dirty and polluting a certain industry was. I told Dad that we needed to get those people to “clean up their act”. He then told me that if I really wanted to clean up the environment I should look to the pollution crated by government sites. (we were only a few miles from Oak Ridge, Tn. at the time) My dad said this before the fall of the USSR and before we found out how much pollution the Communist governments had produced.
I have since come to realize that as a civilization grows more wealthy, the people want to see a cleaner environment. I guess they have the time and the money to press for environmental issues where very poor people are just worrying about surviving and eating. But one constant is that the State itself pollutes and no one will call them on it. (see the Navy for example — I have a lot of Navy men and women in my family)
The left is only using the environment to seek control and to destroy freedom. For this reason we never celebrate how we have cleaned up the air over the last generations or the other issues mention in this fine essay. They only preach gloom and doom.

April 20, 2017 1:32 pm

fantastic article. Written so clearly a layman like me can understand it.
Thank you.

April 20, 2017 1:42 pm

But consider this: It isn’t ordinary people who start wars …

Actually, the one thing that is predictive of war is the size of the young male population. War is more likely if there are more young males. link Leaders will pop up as required.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  commieBob
April 20, 2017 9:37 pm

Perhaps that is because without lots of young men to draft into the armed services, a large war is not possible.

Reply to  commieBob
April 21, 2017 7:34 am

Size? In what context?
There have been wars even when the total population was only a few percent what it is today.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 8:01 am

I took “size” to be a reference to the proportion of males to females.

Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 10:15 am

Could be, however the only instances that I’m aware of where the male/female ratio got out of whack were the results of wars where lots of young men got killed.
A recent example is China as the result of it’s one child policy. I don’t see that China has become any more belligerent in recent decades.

Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 12:01 pm

Size? In what context?

Young males as a proportion of the total population.

Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 2:18 pm

If that’s the case, we don’t have much to worry about because the ratio of young to old has never in the history of the world been as low as it is today, and it’s falling fast.
It’s falling so fast that many countries are seriously worried about their ability to support existing retirees, much less those that will retire over the next 20 years.

Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 6:11 pm

MarkW April 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm
If that’s the case, we don’t have much to worry about …

Except for the Arab world. link They have lots of youth and a huge unemployment problem. That explains a lot.

Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 6:15 pm

Right on.
For example, India’s Hindu population is stable to falling. By contrast, its Muslim population is increasing, in line with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Pakistan hates to admit it, but Indian now has more Muslims than do either of the Muslim states carved out of British India.
If Muslim moms had only one son each, there would be a lot fewer suicide bombers in the world.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  commieBob
April 21, 2017 9:52 am

Hopefully Neil Wiener (from your link) is wrong and we will dodge the bullet of China’s one-child policy, which they finally ended last year. Quoting from the wikipedia: “According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there will be 24 million more men than women of marriageable age by 2020.” That’s going to be a lot of testosterone loaded young males looking for something (or someone) to do in the near future. However, that might help explain China’s changing attitude toward North Korea.

Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 21, 2017 10:19 am

China does have an excess of young males. However there is countervailing force called colloquially, the Little Emperor syndrome.
Imagine, one child, 2 parents, 4 grand parents, 8 great grandparents.
A lot of these kids have been pampered more than you and I can imagine. Even in poor regions, that’s a lot of adults supporting a single child.
Beyond that, can you imagine the anguish and anger of those 14 adults if their one and only heir is killed in a war? Especially if word leaks out that it was an unnecessary war?

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Joe Crawford
April 22, 2017 9:28 am

MarkW: Where are all those young Chinese men going to find young women. Man has a long history of warring with neighboring tribes in order to steal their women for wives or sex slaves.

April 20, 2017 1:52 pm

Articles like this is why I read WUWT.

Chris Hanley
April 20, 2017 1:54 pm

“Hatred of the aeroplane is another skein of the neo-luddism, which greens have continued to develop during the last 30 years …”.
The greens hate airports true, but anecdotally at least they are avid frequent flyers usually to luxury accommodation in exotic destinations to savour the atmosphere and picturesque lifestyles of the locals and impress and incite envy back home.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 20, 2017 2:08 pm

“Furthermore, the politicians and activists are hypocrites, trying to coerce us out of cars and planes while they themselves continue to use them …”.
Oops, my comment was made before I had read that far.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Chris Hanley
April 20, 2017 5:35 pm

Leonardo di Caprio no doubt hates airports. That’s why he saves the planet flying in his private jet. How wonderful if we could all become such planet saviours!

April 20, 2017 2:00 pm

Was the referenced material from the UN gotten/downloaded off the internet, or do hard copies from 1980, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1992, and etc. exist?
My point is that the NY Times tampered with the copy from just a few years back. How do we know that the UN didn’t do the same thing (tampered with the data/evidence/wordage) if the material was downloaded from the internet?
(It’s easy to edit an internet stored PDF document).

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 21, 2017 1:35 am

I got “Our Common Future” itself from a website un-documents.net. They say that the documents there are scanned-in copies from paper originals. That’s why there are so many apparent typos in it.
As to the other documents, I can do nothing but assume they are what they appear to be.

Reply to  Neil Lock
April 21, 2017 8:24 am

Thanks Neil, that’s what I was hoping.
Thanks for clarifying.

Reply to  Neil Lock
April 22, 2017 11:04 am

CIGI/Centre for International Governance Innovation, Ontario, Canada
Re: Barbara Ward, Jim MacNeill, David Runnalls, IISD and Rio 92
Includes Runnalls work with Ward.

Reply to  Neil Lock
April 22, 2017 5:32 pm

EDC/Export Development Canada, Ottawa
CSR/Corporate Social Responsibility
Click on: CSR Advisory Committee
David Runnalls with short biography.

Curious George
April 20, 2017 2:48 pm

Christiana Figueres wants to “change the economic development model” to a much more polluting one, under the guise of reducing “pollution”. I wonder what her motivation might be.

April 20, 2017 3:19 pm

A lot of good people join the environmental movement.
A lot of bad people take economic and political advantage of it.
Re subpara (8) above: “But consider this: It isn’t ordinary people who start wars, but politicians. The problem is theirs, not ours.”
This is true, but it is ordinary people who die and otherwise suffer from wars. It is a problem for all of us.

Reply to  AllanJ
April 21, 2017 12:33 am

There are a lot of good people in the skeptic movement, if movement it is…
but also there is the wide influence of the fossil fuel industry

Reply to  Griff
April 21, 2017 10:20 am

Griff keeps saying this as if it has been proven.
Then of course, there are a lot of other lies that he keeps repeating.

Reply to  Griff
April 21, 2017 12:59 pm

Your comments at WUWT cause the readers of your posts to delve deeper into the issues you bring up. Every time you bring up an issue, this provides WUWT readers with a reason to provide real information.

April 20, 2017 3:43 pm

Read every word and it was well worth the time. Need to remind ourselves where we have been and what we are fighting. It is the old fight between the King and the rest of us. Lenin moved into the Kremlin and Mao moved into the Forbidden City.
Greens have taken a few shots lately but are busy mounting a counter attack. No chance that their deep pocketed backers will cave this easily. In the USA it will be the 2018 mid-terms. A tough battle but we have to fight it out. And win.

April 20, 2017 3:51 pm

Since the population is gradually coming to realise that the scares in this article are groundless, we need a new hobgoblin.
At the beginning of this month, Dr Hirumi Yamasuki, a well known Canadian scientist drew attention to the wandering magnetic poles. The rate of wander is increasing. The doctor speculates that current industry is mining non-magnetic rare earths and other minerals and creating highly magnetic artifacts. Many of these are put into cars. Driving cars around is influencing the earths magnetic fields.
Proof is that the north magnetic pole is migrating south towards the moving fields of the cars.
By altering magnetic fields the Earths protection against cosmic rays and even asteroids is weakened.
We need a new UN Commission on magnetic threats.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  hillrj
April 20, 2017 4:41 pm

NOAA says it is in the canadian arctic, moving NW at 55 km a year.

J Mac
Reply to  hillrj
April 20, 2017 5:53 pm

Below 0F temperatures are hazardous. That is why the North Pole is migrating to a warmer climate….

Reply to  hillrj
April 21, 2017 7:36 am

Did you forget the /sarc tag?

April 20, 2017 4:13 pm

This overview of the history by Neil Lock is a very good one. He’s absolutely dead on when he identifies the Brundtland Commission as the place where internationalism and environmentalism joined forces.
I would like to add a couple of points. Bad as the distortion of ‘precautionary principle’ was, there was another one equally pernicious which also remains with us to this day: Sustainable Development. The Commission had devised rhetoric about a balance between economic development and environmental protection, but in practice over the past 30 years, the economic portion of this definition has been in essence disregarded. By his later involvement in the Iraq Oil-For-Food scandal, Strong would later demonstrate to the world just what a crook he was. As for his antinuclearism, Strong’s brief tenure as Chair of Ontario Hydro included a serious attempt to ruin its nuclear fleet.
In practice, modern sustainable development could be defined as “Western eco-paradise built on the bodies of millions of dead Africans.”
The second point is that certainly the Canadian contingent, Strong and MacNeill, was militantly antinuclear. Strong in part because of his background as the head of Canada’s state-owned oil company PetroCan, and MacNeill because of his long environmentalist record. Both were appointed by our then-hipster Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Environmentalist opposition to things like Yucca Mountain should not come as any surprise. The activist environmentalists have had the view for at least 40 years that blocking any solution to nuclear waste would sooner or later strangle the nuclear industry. And this strategy is still very much in place today. It’s not just a case of ‘glaring bad faith’ as Lock notes, it’s a deliberate strategy knowing full well that the public will be mostly incapable of seeing through the deception.

April 20, 2017 4:16 pm

“On the same strand, the World Charter for Nature [[2]] was a 1982 UN resolution. This contained many of the same ideas and sentiments as later UN environmental documents like the 1992 Rio Declaration. It also included an extreme formulation of the precautionary principle, stating: “Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled,” and “where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed.” The Charter was passed by 111 votes to 1, with 18 abstentions. The USA was the only country voting against.”
That makes me proud to be an American! 🙂

Taxed to Death
April 20, 2017 4:21 pm

No hijacking intended but now the brainwashed “snowflakes” are continuing the green banter activism as new hires in government and NGO’s. Most of them lack a logical though process plus you can’t teach common sense. They are generally very egotistical and I will not admit a mistake (very dangerous combination). It takes at least two of them to do a job an “X’er” did and our economic system will fail because of this. God help us all if we are to rely on this generation to pay our social security. Their idols are the socialist/marxist baby boomer professors who did the brainwashing. Government loves them for this reason. Most cannot trusted much like the BB’ers.

Reply to  Taxed to Death
April 20, 2017 6:51 pm


Gary Pearse
April 20, 2017 4:22 pm

International organizations like the UN, Ngos of almost all stripes, EU,… are fervently anti-American ideological constructs. If it weren’t for the enormously productive, innovative, powerful engine of wealth generation that is the USA, standing as a painfully self evident advertisement for a system that is anathema to the merrygoround serially failed centrally planned alternative, the globalist tot@lit@rians would have long taken over.
The only way for it to succeed clearly required bringing down the US economy. This is basically the way you have to look at it. Buying scientists with cash and stardom, promoting globalism, facilitating migration of big companies out of the US, killing off cheap abundant energy.
Embarrassingly, 40% of Nobel Prizes (48% of hard sciences, medicine and economics) went to US researchers and a flood of meaningless prizes to meaningless people over the last couple of decades has diluted this. Hopefully, the looming failure of this generation’s romance with marxbrothers’ plan for us all that has already caused so much pain and cost might stimulate a switchover to the American type model.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 21, 2017 1:21 pm

MISO, electric utility emissions trading, and behind the scenes funders might be looked at?
But maybe this is on-hold with the court stay and a new a POTUS?
Hope this is not off-topic, but UN actions trickle down into the U.S. energy sector?

April 20, 2017 4:24 pm

Shouldn’t the title be Our Communist Future?

Reply to  Logoswrench
April 20, 2017 6:47 pm

Exactly, little actually changes but technical trivia talking points.
Clearly, we absorbed the Soviet academic design after their collapse.

Reply to  cwon14
April 20, 2017 9:54 pm

…so the Soviet Union didn’t collapse at all; no, it simply migrated West.

April 20, 2017 4:33 pm

the report introduced its novel and central concept of “sustainable development” is probably an idea from the Rockefeller Foundation. In their ’83 report, they mention sustainable resource use:
I wouldn’t be surprised if they influenced the concept of sustainable development. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the are the leading driver of virtually all environmental causes worldwide.

Reply to  kramer
April 21, 2017 10:59 am

The little known but very influential British economist and environmentalist Barbara Ward may have the dubious honour of being the inventor of “sustainable development” in 1966:
“In 1966 (Barbara) Ward gave a lecture, Space Ship Earth, in which she argued that mankind’s survival depended on developing a government of the world.”
Quote from the book “The Age of Global Warming” by Rupert Darwall.
To me “sustainable development” is mostly a strawman, since people are generally too smart to do things in an unsustainable way, since they want to continue making money forever.

Reply to  climanrecon
April 21, 2017 1:28 pm

True, Strong became associated with Ward.

April 20, 2017 4:52 pm

Nice historical review article. Shows the mountain skeptics have to conquer, built under our noses. Strong, Figueroa, patsy ‘scientists’ Hansen and Mann…
Good news, the tide seems to be turning. CAGW predictions did not pan out. Ma Nature seems on the skeptical side. Renewables (other than hydro) disastrous environmentally, uneconomic without subsidies, and intermittent so SA blacks out. House of cards starting to wobble.

April 20, 2017 6:44 pm

The Marxist underpinning was there then and now. The technical topics are always secondary yet many skeptics refuse to connect the dots.

Reply to  cwon14
April 20, 2017 8:44 pm

cwon – agreed. But there is definitely a confluence of brainiacs ( a la Harrison Brown, educated elitists harking back to Plato and Aristotle) and Communists. Hearing common complaints, they become strange bedfellows.

R. de Haan
April 20, 2017 8:32 pm

We have our priorities totally wrong. Listen to this:

R. de Haan
April 20, 2017 8:35 pm
April 20, 2017 9:56 pm

The Black Plague was in the mid-1300s This did a huge demographic change.
Then, a couple things happened.
Philosophers/Academics became common. This may have been due to rising wealth – a more wealthy society can support musicians and academics.
Christianity received a different review. I don’t know why. The values of Christianity, of charity and commonality, were weakened, somehow by the aftermath of the Plague.
The problem of ne’er-do-wells arose to the level of civic concern. Ne’er-do-wells: Vagrants who carried out petty thievery, impregnated young impressionable women, brought down the property value, and would not provide a full day of work when hired. Those who would have “too many” babies, requiring the rest of us to step in with aid of some sort, wearing out our Christian charity.
Of course, people speculated and argued about why there was this handful of bothersome ne’er-do-wells.
My thesis is that this exact situation gave rise to the strong philosophical tradition of contemplating the nature of man: is man inherently good, but corrupted by the world, or is man inherently bad, and it is the world that overrides his nature, by setting the parameters of acceptable social behavior to make him participate in an acceptable way, thus making him good?
So, Hobbes and Rousseau and all the rest rose out of the ponderings of what to do with the ne’er-do-well vagrants and beggars. And, I think, out of the post-Plague European labor/populace situation. That is my original thesis, and if anyone else has pronounced this idea, please post a response because that scholar has probably done a better job of putting this all together.
By some point in the 1500s, the various means for addressing the problems of these ne’er-do-wells rose to the level of policy: England began initiating their poor laws, declaring what the various parsonages must do, and who they must serve, and how. [no separation of church and state back then.] Poor Laws have included such things as mandatory work and or education, or punishment, and “residency requirements” – just as we have now for Medicaid – same same.
From this point, the issue is pretty much on the map. Poor Law rhetoric covers two views: these people just need some guidance and a helping hand -OR- these people deserve punishment and a lack of reinforcement – they should get no charity or only get work-related charity – for their wandering thieving unscrupulous ways.
This becomes the nurture/nature debate…
This is when rock-breaking arose. Travel in England could go better if a crushed-rock bed were laid along the path, ending the problem of muddy, rutted byways. Well, if the ne’er-do-wells want to earn their keep, they can break rocks. Hence the iconic rock-breaking inmates of Cool Hand Luke notoriety.
Also, this trend gives rise to the “reform” movements – movements to educate the wayward women with more kids than they can care for, suffering due to the absence of the fathers.
Then, Darwin. And Galton, building on natural selection with his “eugenics,” and measurement of man: Galton believes he can provide physiological measures identifying why a ne’er-do-well is a ne’er-do-well. Phrenology, racism, eugenics. Galton’s “Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development” circa 1880.
From here, the thread is easy to pick up…
—This is where the “overpopulation” refrain begins. Swift’s “Modest Proposal was circa 1730. Darwin’s “origin of species, or the preservation of favored races” is circa 1860. Galton: 1880.
Darwin’s ideas provide a “scientific” basis for social views already in play. [read that again: Darwin merely played justification for what was already believed: certain individuals were inferior.]
From circa 1880, it is a mere 35 years to Margaret Sanger, with works such as “Family Limitation,” circa 1915. Sanger plays a role in the establishment of the American Eugenics Society, which morphed into Planned Parenthood when the grotesqueness of eugenics became popularly unbearable.
Here. the population must be managed somehow. Up to Hilter, eugenics was a VERY common, popular idea – let’s be honest and factual. It faded off sharply after Hilter…
Hilter was well educated in American eugenics, and we all know where the story line goes with that progressive totalitarian…
But the intellectual course has carried on, albeit in disguises …academic and international demographics, fertility research, public health, sex ed…

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
April 21, 2017 10:18 am

“Christianity received a different review. I don’t know why. The values of Christianity, of charity and commonality, were weakened, somehow by the aftermath of the Plague.”
There’s no mystery here. Mediaeval Christianity was based on the belief in the merit of good works. That is, live a virtuous life, support the Church, tithe, provide to charity and you were a good person destined for Heaven. All of this fell apart during the Black Death. It slaughtered indiscriminately, without regard to the people themselves. It undermined completely the belief in Good Works.
The result of all this was the disintegration of Europe into anarchy for about five years. Both political and religious authority collapsed, and Christianity fractured into a number of religious hysterical movements such as the flagellants. Ultimately both were restored by armed force, but the damage had been done. The Black Death can be considered one of the principal causes of the Reformation of the late 15th early 16th Centuries.

Rurik Collins
Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
April 21, 2017 4:52 pm

Very good research, you would like the first chapter of Fuller’s Critical Path where he summarily dismisses Darwin and Galton.

April 20, 2017 10:08 pm


April 21, 2017 12:32 am

I think it is important to note that point 4 – acid rain – and point 6 – ozone depletion – were serious issues and were resolved by concerted international action.
For those accepting the science behind climate change this is important – it shows international action works on large scale threats.

Reply to  Griff
April 21, 2017 10:23 am

Acid rain was a non-issue. It existed in very limited fashion in a few highly localized areas. For the vast, vast majority of the world’s surface it was never a problem
Ozone depletion never existed in the first place.
Two more examples of the lies Griffster eagerly repeats.

John Haddock
Reply to  MarkW
April 21, 2017 10:55 pm

It would be a mistake to imply environmental laws and remediations are a waste of time. Acid rain was an issue, although I agree not everywhere. But nobody doubts the wisdom of removing lead from gasoline or paint. Nor, I suspect, does anyone argue against the restrictions on dumping toxic chemicals into streams and rivers.
We need to clearly separate the wisdom of taking action from the political agenda of those proposing action.

Reply to  Griff
April 22, 2017 12:37 am

How have acid rains been resolved? During the past decade or so UN and governments have encouraged industry and households to burn biomaterial for energy. How could less energy intensive and/or variable/multi composition materials emit less sulphur and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere? Sounds like even the faithful no longer believe in the acid rain conjecture.
How has the ozone layer recovered? CFCs are inert and by definition linger on. Sounds like CFC induced ozone hole conjecture is similarly out of fashion among the faithful.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Griff
April 22, 2017 1:36 am

“Griff April 21, 2017 at 12:32 am
I think it is important to note that point 4 – acid rain – and point 6 – ozone depletion – were serious issues and were resolved by concerted international action.”
Ozone is continuously being created and destroyed. The “hole” was discovered in the 80’s, something new that was never before “observed” and CFC’s were blamed. The UK was, almost, wholly blamed for “acid rain” destroying forests on mainland Europe. And yet, rain is usually, and naturally, at a pH of between 4 – 5.

Geoff Sherrington
April 21, 2017 4:04 am

In 1990 and for the next 10 years, I was active in Australia’s mineral industry, often representing my employer (one of the larger and more Active resource companies) in the workings of the then Australian Mining Industry Council, AMIC.
Ms Brundtland came to our attention about 1980. There were AMIC discussions about bringing her to Australia. There was discussion about her topics of interest, but these matters were of low importance as the primary AMIC aim was the betterment of the country, stakeholders, etc., through formulation of good management strategies and their successful execution by resource companies.
The matters re Brundtland were minor in comparison and were considered supplementary to other matters, not in competition with normal business. Then the 1987 Our Common Future report came out and it took a couple of years to digest its implications. Partly this was because the anti-people had stirred up local considerations more than before. We had to contend with issues like aboriginal land rights, NT self-government, unprecedented attacks on security of mining tenure, increasing global Sovereign risk, while taking on these more remote issues in Our Common Future.
Australia’s resource industries had taken hard lines against local stirrers until about 1990, when the towels were thrown in step by step by the major companies, which by this time had become much more international. We local chaps felt that the Big Brothers like BHP and Rio must know secret things to deal with the UN that we did not know, so we left it to them. If we had been able to continue as before, I doubt that the UN policies would have reached their present impact. Part of this reasoning is because the giant corporations were infiltrated by green thought, whereas the mid-sized were not. They sold out from ignorance of the internal threat.
Whereas we had been used to negotiation to achieve significant change, the green approach was to not negotiate, but to infiltrate and corrode. When votes in Parliaments became precarious, green ideas could be persuasive irrespective of real merit.
It is a pit that so many of the green persuasions were of no merit, but the public perception is opposite that. It was a life long demonstration for me of the power of bullshit over brains. There is therefore some cheer from the Trump approach in its early manifestations.

Geoff Sherrington
April 21, 2017 4:12 am

Oh heck, start that “From 1980…” please

April 21, 2017 4:13 am

Socialism fails when it runs out of other people’s money.
This has been demonstrated repeatedly over the last 100 years.
Einstein said that “idiocy is doing the same thing again and again, yet expecting a different result”.
I rest my case.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Bitter&twisted
April 21, 2017 4:20 am

Venezuela just seized General Motors assets. So much for the socialist “poster child”. We’ll soon have posts to state that is not true.

Gareth Phillips
Reply to  Bitter&twisted
April 21, 2017 8:11 am

Capitalism fails when it runs out of money to steal.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 21, 2017 10:24 am

I know socialists are idiots, but do they have to be so eager displaying it.
How exactly do you steal from someone if you are selling them what they want to buy.
Socialists on the other hand use government to take from those who work and give to those who don’t want to. Such as themselves.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 22, 2017 1:39 am

Well, I was expecting anther poster, but you’ll do to bolster my point.

Gareth Phillips
April 21, 2017 8:10 am

Speaking of Green Juggernauts, today was the first day for over a hundred years that no electricity in the UK was generated from coal. Good news for the gas industry, bad news for the coal.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 21, 2017 8:53 am

Good news for wooly-headed, coal-hating CO2-obsessed Greenies, bad news for the UK you mean.

Gareth Phillips
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 21, 2017 10:08 am

That’s just a silly response Bruce. It’s the equivalent of sticking your tongue out and shouting Nah Nah.
The reality is that the Greens are not keen on gas either , so your initial premise is way off. They are also not too keen on Nuclear power, both of which will provide most of the energy.
However, coal is the most polluting on a landscape basis and emissions and requires much more work than gas to reduce pollutants, so some people will be happy. The right wing governments under Margaret Thatcher closed the UK coal industry and it was mainly the left in politics that wanted to preserve it. So sometimes when you jump to conclusions you can be way off the mark.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 21, 2017 10:25 am

The problems of pollution from coal plants was solved 40 years ago.

Gareth Phillips
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 22, 2017 12:49 am

Here is another report on the issue from the BBC ( Headlines this morning) You may be interested in the reference to generating electricity from wood chips. It sounds as if there may be a major rethink in this area regarding its environmental impact. The main issue for me is that Trump intends to re-open and expand coal production at the same time many countries are reducing it’s use. Anyone know how expensive the generation of power from clean coal is in comparison to say Oil or gas?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 22, 2017 1:42 am

“Gareth Phillips April 22, 2017 at 12:49 am”
No bias in that article at all.
Do I need a /sarc?

Questing Vole
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 23, 2017 12:05 am

FYI, Gareth Phillips, more coal mines were closed under Labour govts than under Mrs T. The bulk were those unsuitable for mechanisation, even though pillar-and-stall was still worked in one part of an otherwise long-face mine into this century. The Labour govt of that time actively provided a very modest subsidy to surviving underground mines at the time, but only so that there would be some still working in 2008, so that no-one could accuse them of letting the industry go to the wall on their watch.
As for “most polluting on a landscape basis” energy source, I’d give that to wind every time.
And I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but if big gas didn’t collude with “green” anti-coal movements to promote their own product then they missed an open goal.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 21, 2017 10:25 am

Even worse news for the poor who can no longer afford to heat their homes.

Questing Vole
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 22, 2017 11:47 pm

I suspect that coal-fired electricity was generated, but only as spinning reserve, with none actually fed to the grid, thanks to a burst of wind and adequate imports. You only have to look at the Templar site to see how often c-f power kept the UK lights on through a relatively mild winter. Watch it too through the rest of this week if the weather forecast of frosts and snow proves accurate.

R. de Haan
April 21, 2017 2:56 pm
Barbara Skolaut
April 21, 2017 6:51 pm

“This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy, anymore.”
“Anymore,” my Aunt Fanny. It was all about money (taking ours, giving it to themselves) from the git-go.

April 22, 2017 5:47 am

Gareth Phillips- you have touching faith in the BBC.
However it is not known as
Broadcasting Bleeding Communism or the Biased Broadcasting Cartel, for nothing.
While you are at it why not check this article out?

Gareth Phillips
Reply to  Bitter&Twisted
April 22, 2017 10:02 am

Bitter and twisted, ( Nominative determinism lives !) , compared to sources like Fox news, Beitbart News and some of the real dodgy stuff in the US they are the epitome of honesty, despite their persistent right wing bias. But still, if have just linked the report, you will notice I made no did not comment on its veracity.
I read you link, and your point is? I think we are all aware that wind power supplies no power on some days, that is old news. But a 100 year old energy source not being used for the first time, well, thats news.

April 28, 2017 11:33 am

Really useful post. Santayana would be pleased.

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