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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Foster: from Brundtland to Kyoto, the New Road to Serfdom

Peter Foster writes in today's National Post about how the environmental movement has been used to further the socialist cause that is leading society down a new Road to Serfdom...

Criticisms of Environment Minister John Baird for the vagueness of the moves announced this week to force oilsands to sequester CO2, and prevent construction of "dirty" coal plants reflects the Alice in Wonderland quality of the climate-change non-debate. Opposition parties brayed that he had not been "tough" enough. Media headlines suggested that big emitters had "won."

But nowhere in either the policy or the attacks would you find any suggestion that any measures, whether tough or not, would have the slightest impact on the global climate. How did we get to this ridiculous mess? It is all inextricably tied to the remarkable job that the Left has done in the past 20 years to rescue itself from the brink of extinction by exploiting environmental concerns.

That revival started in 1987 with the report of the UN-based Brundtland Commission. Brundtland was packed with representatives of the old left -- defined as those who seek state control over capitalist enterprise on the basis that it is both morally suspect and practically unstable. The commission played into widespread misconceptions: that the world was "running out" of resources; and that the capitalist rich had achieved their wealth at the expense of "the poor." However, its most important new weapon was that of the alleged despoliation of the environment by industrial society.

From Brundtland emerged the concept of "sustainable development," or SD, that was to be managed so as not to adversely affect future generations. Practically, the notion that the enormous range of private economic activities upon which growth depends could be beneficially monitored and vetted was ridiculous. SD nevertheless maintained that markets' "externalities" justified central co-ordination and control. What gave SD its great boost was the theory of catastrophic man-made climate change.


The old/new Left was quick to seize upon the potential of climate change at the huge Brundtland follow-up at Rio in 1992. Rio was organized by Brundtland commissioner Maurice Strong, a long-time committed Canadian socialist who was the strategic mastermind of the new environmental Left. From Rio emerged the processes that led to the Kyoto accord.

Why would governments support the theory of potentially disastrous man-made climate change? It was a combination of the success of the environmental Left -- in particular activist non-governmental organizations -- in stoking the concerns of the electorate, and of the desire of bureaucrats and policy-makers to stay relevant, busy and in power.
Read the rest here.

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