The ideas of governance on which America is founded represent,
perhaps, man's greatest achievement. The idea that government must be
empowered only by the consent of the governed, is the most powerful
idea about governance ever conceived. At the end of the day, it is
the idea, and the system of governance, that will guide all people to
healthy, happy, and prosperous lives.
But there is little to prevent the world from suffering through another century, or millennium for that matter, of the inevitable oppression that results from self-empowered government that grants, or denies, freedom and wealth to its citizens.
The mission of Freedom21 is to advance and promote the principles of freedom at every level of government.
A collection of commentaries, thoughts, and ideas on the issues we face in the advancement and defense of the principles of freedom.
Freedom21 Alternative to the U.N.'s Agenda 21 Program
for Sustainable Development
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the United Nations put forward a
comprehensive plan for so-called "sustainable development," entitled
"Agenda 21," that is designed to be a roadmap for the world for the
21st Century. In response to this and other attempts to advance
command-and-control measures in the United States, and the
international community, the Freedom 21 campaign was established to
promote freedom as the guiding principle for the 21st Century.
Over the past two years, a committee of public policy experts from
a diverse group of think tanks and public interest organizations
brought together the first draft of Freedom 21's alternative to the
U.N.'s "Agenda 21" program. This draft alternative was publicly
released to coincide with the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable
Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in August, 2002. It can be
read in its entirety here.
Freedom 21's first draft opens with a broad discussion concerning
principles of governance, comparing and contrasting the philosophies
of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It argues that Locke's
emphasis on individual rights, which was a cornerstone of the founding
of the United States of America, is far superior to that of Rousseau's
emphasis on the "general will," and that Locke's philosophy has led to
unparalleled prosperity, freedom and environmental protection. It
further discusses how environmental policy in the United States, and
at the international level, is closely following Rousseau's model of
command-and-control governance, and undermining the very foundation of
freedom in the U.S. and abroad.
The document then discusses five broad areas of human and
environmental concern: namely, 1) population and poverty issues; 2)
land issues and property rights; 3) air and water issues; 4) chemicals
and management of waste; and 5) energy and food. Each section offers a
factual overview of the particular issues, followed by specific
principles and policy recommendations.
Among the key principles:
Global Warming is poorly understood, and human factors are
likely to play an insignificant role. Contrary to assertions by the
United Nations and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is
unlikely that global warming is caused by man, but represents a
recovery from the Little Ice Age in the 1700s.
Population growth does not necessitate depleted resources, and
there are currently no shortages of food, raw materials or energy. Nor
is there anything to prevent increased production, other than
High population densities do not cause poverty. There is no
correlation between population density and poverty.
A vibrant, free market economy, not big government programs,
reduces poverty. Hernando de Soto, in his book The Mystery of Capital,
identifies the true pillar of wealth; property rights, fully
transferable and secured by a legal system free of corruption and
The biggest obstacles to greater [crop] yields in the
developing nations are poverty, war, corruption, restrictive societies
that stifle creativity and initiative, and an absence of private
property rights, and legal institutions that enable and encourage
entrepreneurship. Yet Agenda 21 proposes a controlled society,
exactly the opposite of what is needed.
Government agencies tend to lump real and potential chemical
hazards into one group. Not all hazards contain the same risk under
There is more than adequate space for solid waste
disposal. The problem is political, not physical, and centers on
legitimate NIMBY concerns.
Economically available, known supplies of oil and gas keep
increasing faster than oil is being used. In 1939, and again in 1951,
only a 13 year supply of oil was known to exist. Today, the known
supply would last for 40 years. At prices greater than $40 a barrel
there could be a 5,000 year supply.
Current land use solutions contained in various international
treaties and United Nations goals are often based on incorrect
biological principles, and will threaten, rather than help species and
ecosystem heath. This is because they depend upon a central command
and control system of protection and management which is diametrically
opposed to time-proven application of private property rights.
Sustainable development practices calling for vast tracts of
wilderness and a reduction in human activity are usually not
necessary, and can actually be harmful and counterproductive. There is
little basis for creating vast tracts of interconnecting wilderness,
as most current sustainable development practices
recommend. Biodiversity and habitat health can be optimized using
existing scientifically proven management practices.
Almost all air and water pollution results from the Tragedy of
the Commons. Common ownership of resources, such as the air or water,
provides no incentives to care for them.
Emotional reactions to perceived toxic chemical threats can
invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences. Applying an environmental
"solution" without first determining its consequences can create
cataclysmic problems that are much worse than the original problem the
solution is supposed to resolve.
This Freedom 21 Alternative to Agenda 21 provides not only a basis
for challenging policy recommendations confronting local, state and
federal government, it also provides valid reasons for assuring that
the principles of freedom are the foundation of, and incorporated into
every policy adopted at every level of government.
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