My View From The Country

A Frightful Vision Of Sustainable Prosperity

An eye-opening document from the Worldwatch Institute provides some worrisome insight into what anti-capitalist, anti-modern technology, and environmental alarmists have in mind.

"Time Running Out To Ensure Sustainable Prosperity For All.” That was the headline of a recent press release issued by the Worldwatch Institute. (You can read it here.). It provides some eye-opening insight into what anti-capitalist, anti-modern technology, and environmental alarmists are thinking.

For instance, Worldwatch points to the amount of resource consumption by the world’s middle and upper classes, and laments the increase in people expected to join those consumer classes in the future. According to the release, “The planet can’t maintain such increases in resource demand without serious consequences for both people and ecosystems. We must act quickly to redefine our understanding of the ‘good life’ and redouble our efforts to make that life sustainable.”

The following statement describes these people’s thought process and vision – "The Industrial Revolution gave birth to an economic growth model rooted in structures, behaviors and activities that are patently unsustainable," says Michael Renner, Worldwatch senior researcher. “Mounting ecosystem stress and resource pressures are accompanied by increased economic volatility, growing inequality, and social vulnerability. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the economy no longer works for either people or the planet."

I’ve been chastised in the past for mentioning that such groups want to remake our society, but their own words bear this out: “Instead, we need to reprioritize basic needs and pursue true sustainable prosperity: development that allows all human beings to live with their fundamental needs met, with their dignity acknowledged, and with abundant opportunity to pursue lives of satisfaction and happiness, all without risk of denying others in the present and the future the ability to do the same. This, in turn, means not just preventing further degradation of Earth's systems, but actively restoring them to full health.”

The release points to the upcoming United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, which is taking place in Rio de Janeiro in June, as a means to move the global economy in their direction. There’s a lot of talk about green economies, sustainable development, and poverty eradication leading up to this conference. If you’re not familiar with the underlying meanings, it translates into decreased lifestyles and consumptive patterns for the developed world; a rejection of capitalism; income redistribution; and a framework that punishes developed modern economies in an effort to bring them in line with the developing countries of the world.

These groups continue to use the fear tactics of the environmental movement, which call the very existence of humanity into question. But, increasingly, the focus is on changing our consumer culture, our priorities, and even our definition of what is sustainable.

What’s sobering is that these folks clearly believe they must not only change our lifestyles, cultures, and beliefs, but fundamentally recreate our political and economic systems to enforce their vision of sustainability. It’s sobering to read their broader goals, which go beyond creating a “green” economy. They openly talk about “degrowth” (reducing the standard of living) in developed countries, and “demarketizing” (government seizing control) of certain sectors of the economy, including food production.

Meanwhile, “sustainable transportation” equates to moving people to the cities and eliminating automobiles in favor of mass transport, or better yet walking. They call for the reinventing of the corporation, which includes “shifts in their purpose, ownership, capital investment and governance.” Basically, it means socialism.

They call for more power, more money and more control; currently, they’re striving to increase the power of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). And they advocate strict policies for eliminating population growth. They’re also looking to punish consumerism through taxation, and encourage industries and products they consider green and sustainable. They openly seek more government oversight of the economy, and call for food security and equity, which translates to an elimination of industrial meat production.

In fact, the president of Worldwatch makes it clear, “We know enough right now about the state of the world to see clearly that we have to change the way we live and the way we do business."

At times, those of us in production agriculture are so focused on feeding the world, providing a safe and abundant food supply, and contributing to a higher standard of living that gives all people an opportunity to succeed and better their lives and the lives of the next generation, that we forget there are those who actively seek to redefine not only our economy and culture, but our very values. If we are to prosper and be sustainable, we must actively fight these attempts.

Right now, they may represent a minority view, but they’re doing everything possible to wrap their anti-capitalist, anti-meat, anti-modern agriculture views around the protective cloak of environmentalism. In doing so, they openly aim at taking control of the levers of power and force their vision upon the world.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Apr 13, 2012

While this information and the apparent goals of some of the groups mentioned truely are disturbing, i think it's important to put this in perspective. I'm a rancher, also active in supporting selected political races, mostly democratic but some replublican, have may republican and democratic friends (some who would be called liberal) and many contacts in the environmental and conservation movements. I know of NO ONE nor have i heard of anyone, other than through this article, who holds the views being described. I have many friends who feel strongly we need to find ways to consume less but they promote it through constructive means (more efficiency in energy, food production, land use, etc.) and never with the view that people in the US or anywhere else should sacrifice their quality of life, to the contrary they believe we can be more efficient and still improve our quality of life and that the less developed world can do the same. The groups Troy mentions are scary but they are a fringe, i know from my own wide spectrum of contacts they do not represent the mainstream. They should be opposed as should some fringe groups on the radical right who also are scary but do not represent the mainstream. If we use the fringe on either side to characterize the mainstream we'll never solve our problems or pull this country back together, it's a mistake and a trap we have to avoid.

Rex Peteson (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2012

Years ago, I attended the First Annual Grazing Abuse Conference. I had the sense that the speakers were of the opinion that if you were still in Agriculture, somehow, you had cheated.
During the past milenia, we have gone from almost everyone farming to 2%. The forests and freeholdings were cleared at the time of Robin Hood for large estates. Scotland and Ireland suffered the Clearings at the time of the potato famine and large emigration to America and Australia.The Dust Bowl and the postwar transformation of our country despite the goals of the Bureau of Reclamation projects for small farmers.
This is a long history of the "family farm" being displaced by economies of scale and new technology. Now that we are down to 2% of the population (with a quarter providing 1% of the ag sales), it is easy to find villians rather than understand why we cannot continue to cling to the way things were.
The Worldwatch report fits this world view quite well.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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