William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Think Global Warming’s Bad? Wait’ll You Meet Sustainability

This polar bear must be an environmentalist. Notice his message and his smile.

This polar bear must be an environmentalist. Notice his message and his smile.

Today’s post is at Breitbart, under the modified title “Think Global Warming Is Bad? Wait Until You Meet Sustainability“.

This went up Saturday as the lead article, but we were busy here and couldn’t get to it. As of this writing, there are 2092 comments, of which I have only read 10. I’d read more, but I don’t like Disqus, the comment manager (I like to keep Javascript off).

Anyway, to quote myself:

Problem with global warming is that eventually it must meet reality. Either the globe is warming up at horrific rates as the models have promised, or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then those men still calling themselves “scientist”, and meaning it, must admit failure and move on…

Enter sustainability, a secular religion which is gaining converts faster than “outrage” spreads across the Internet. Rachelle Peterson and Peter Wood at the non-progressive National Association of Scholars call sustainability “Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism“, and have written a report describing this new form of paganism. Anybody interested in the future of the Western university should read it.

Sustainability…need never meet reality…It always means just what someone claiming to be more eco-holy than thou wants it to mean. True Sustainability is a goal ever disappearing into the distance, one which can never be reached, but which must be pursued with ever increasing vigor…

It isn’t only about the money. It’s about elites signaling their purity. This is why groups like the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education exist. These folks invented the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, a trademarked “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.” Just like in Kindergarten, different colored stars are awarded for better and worse performance.

You get the idea. Go there to read the rest.

Back? Not convinced sustainability is as bad as I paint it? Then may I direct your attention to the UN’s “Agenda 21” (pdf), part of that organizations plan to increase the scope and mandate of World Government.

Boy. Sounds conspiratorial, no? But if the UN isn’t interested in World Government, then what is it interested in?

We’ll have to step through this program sometime soon.

23 Comments

  1. Me thinks too many elites have too little to do!

  2. “Not convinced sustainability is as bad as I paint it?”

    No I am not. I think you have understated how bad it is.

  3. Sustainability is a meaningless word that simply gets tacked onto whatever is the cause of the day. If you ask someone what sustainability is, odds are they cannot answer. However, when a large percentage of your population is worried about thier rankings on social media and not whether or not their latest meal is going to disappear from the now-closed, unsustainable grocery store and they have to take up hunter/gatherer behaviour, they’ll get it. To late of course, but refusal to actually pay attention in life has the same effect as texting driving. Watch for a lot of head-on crashes into reality in the future.

    (Note: While Agenda 21 gets mentioned a lot, it’s just a very tiny piece of this mess. People stood by and let their children be indoctrinated by the government instead of parenting, people decided it was easier to get hand-outs than work, etc. The UN is not to blame—people, ordinary people, are. They did nothing.)

  4. If sustainability sensitivity training is part of the college curriculum, you can bet it won’t be faculty teaching it. It will be administrators, or their consultant friends (who are likely less credentialed than the professors). Tuition-paying parents would be mortified to find out the extent that “outside of the classroom” programming is pushing aside academic coursework. PS And just who invented the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System? You can be sure that it wasn’t the brainchild of tenured faculty who were fretting about dirty cafeteria trays.

  5. Methinks you are an anti-federalist too.

  6. To Sheri—Regular people don’t expect their governments to sell their rights and liberties to the highest bidder. The inconceivable nature of Agenda 21 is why most people “stood by.” On its face, it is just too science-fictiony take seriously. To our peril, to be sure.

  7. Katie: I agree. Unfortunately, that tendancy to believe that what is happening cannot possibly be happening often is quite prevalent. Refusal to see reality has dire consequences over time. I do understand it’s human nature. It’s also our greatest weakness and very easily exploited. Yes, much to our peril. I suppose I’m still trying to find a way to make reality that is unpleasant sound more scary and less science-fictiony so maybe people wake up sooner. Obviously, I’ve yet to find the key.

  8. I see your enemies even followed you to Breitbart. That woman who formulated sustainability along with John Kerry with the Spanish sounding Hinez actually hailed originally from Mozambique and is married to ketchup money. Or so I’ve heard.

    It is strange to see that the use of OPM is even favored by those with lots of cash as if somehow these causes they support will never put much of a dent in their own cash. For some reason, those that advocate taking all of your money (for the good of the Earth or (*maybe*) Mankind) never just give it all away and go live under a bridge.

  9. DAV: Well said. I am constantly annoyed by the billionaires anxious to take everyone else’s money but give up none of their own. What is frustrating is their followers don’t seem to see that.

  10. The nature of the term depends on the persons using it. A politician is a parasite, so his definition of sustainable is one that keeps him well established.

    On smaller scales, sustainable begins to make sense. When a gardener or farmer talks about improving their land until it is fertile enough to produce without further amendments to the soil. A forest grows with rainfall and air coming to it, not with massive numbers of trucks bringing fertilizer to it.

    When people actually get out and try to do sustainable farming or what have you, the attachment to government solutions goes away pretty quickly. I don’t happen to think CO2 is a big deal, but it turns out to be relatively easy to sequester carbon in soil- via planting trees and grazing animals in an appropriate manner. Many on the left are beginning to see the government as just getting in the way, and many on the right have become attracted to sustainable agriculture because it is a way to become robust against potential breakdowns in the food supply.

    The local view is ultimately inimical to the politician, because the points at which he can extract resources vanish.

  11. @August Hurtel

    “A forest grows with rainfall and air coming to it, not with massive numbers of trucks bringing fertilizer to it. ”

    Even a natural forest will not grow without fertilizer. You are correct that the fertilizer is not brought by trucks. The forest’s fertilizer is brought by death, decay, and fire.

  12. Sustainability always reminds me of the Britcom Good Neighbors (UK: The Good Life) and “Self-Sufficiency”.

    In one episode, Tom Good’s old boss decided to have a crack a “self-sufficiency”. Tom’s problem with that was that his old boss had servants that did all the work.

    Of course, Tom doesn’t explore how he was able to be “self-sufficient” because he owned his land outright (or had savings to pay off the mortgage) from a middle-class skilled job prior to becoming “self-sufficient”. (There was even an episode where he “contracted” out to his old but didn’t see that as hypocrisy since his intentions were not to support his self-sufficiency just buy the wife something nice.

    In 1976, Ralph Waite starred in the Secret Life of John Chapman”, went on a sabbatical as tenured professor to become a blue-collar worker. His daughter didn’t understand what he was trying to prove and when he took her out to dinner he paid with a credit card.

    She proceeded to criticize him for this since most blue-collar workers at that time wouldn’t have that sort of option. He was a hypocrite in her eyes and he was engaged in an obscene variation of slumming.

  13. I’m in the middle of Eric Voegelin’s excellent (and short) “Science, Politics and Gnosticism.” By this account, I’d say the Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Change/Sustainability group are Gnostic, not pagan. Some pagans were (and are) Gnostics; some weren’t (and aren’t). The aim of Gnosticism is to destroy the world and make a better, new one that is entirely just and good, with people as gods. Except that to do it, you need complete control over everyone and everything, because otherwise reality just keeps creeping back in. And you ESPECIALLY have to control what people think and say, or else they question your system (which only makes sense when it’s not compared against anything else and when using the definitions you give things, such as (in this case) “science,” “sustainable”). I’d say that describes what’s going on with this environmental stuff, and a lot else too…

  14. Briggs

    April 20, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Gail,

    Thanks. Good correction.

  15. August, Organic farming is harder on the land the modern no till, it also produces 2/3 as much, certainly not sustainable. Throw in the fact they use manure and to often, to early, and now we find our vegetables tainted with e Coli. Organic farming another one of those progressive ideas that is worst than it seems, The left keeps piling up bodies but never has to apologize or admit they are responsible, god what a good racket after all they care!

  16. Sustainability means you can do X indefinitely. You will not run out of whatever is required to fuel X. This would imply using resources of unlimited practical supply, e.g., wind or sunlight. Or to recycle.

    Some things can usually be recycled economically, e.g. paper. Many other things cannot be recycled economically, meaning more resources are consumed in the process of recycling than recovered in the recycled product. When this happens you end up with a solution worse than the problem. That happens a lot but I’m not sure if this aspect of human stupidity is worse than most other forms of human stupidity.

  17. “World Governance” does not equal “World Government”, get over it conspiracy nutters.

  18. Will: Wind and solar are not sustainable. You don’t run out of wind or solar, but you run out of materials to build and places to build. They are just as limited as oil and gas. In addition, your “sustainable” has to be built with wildly varying amounts of energy used since wind and solar are not any different than hunter/gatherer food systems. I really did not consider hunter/gatherer lifestyles “sustainable” over farming and animal husbandry any more than I consider wind and solar more sustainable than oil and gas. Throw in nuclear, it wins hands down.

    ad: Your statement is not sustainable……

  19. I see by the responses to me that you guys don’t realize innovation continues. For example, one of you tells me how bad organic farming is- well, I don’t want to do organic farming because it is pretty much just like conventional farming, but then you have to buy the FDA approved ‘organic’ fertilizer, pesticide, etc…

    And yes, a forest does get fertilized by death. You get the land to that point of fertility. You can harvest, AND use plant matter as fertilizer.

    Additionally there are advances in understanding how to graze animals. Look up Alan Savory. We can and should have plenty of animals- think about that. This is one of the many reasons I think these avenues are legitimate areas of research- most ideological environmentalists are trying to push us to veganism. Even the U.N. is doing it.

    Another assumption, made both on the right and left is that having only 2% of land (or whatever it is) in production is good. In reality, this means massive amounts of land just sitting there, often becoming desert.

    Big Ag is post world war government guided technology. Huge subsidies generated this system. Mysteriously, most of the time, when conservatives and libertarians talk about it, they talk like they are defending a free market driven innovation. No, you are defending a government subsidized buggy whip industry.

  20. Looks to me that “governance” is as well-defined as “sustainability”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance

    Having dealt with the latter in my former job, and reading the wiki entry on the former, I can say they are both like trying to get fly paper off your hands. You don’t know what the sticky stuff that won’t go away is, but you sure as hell know you don’t like it.

  21. Nothing is ultimately sustainable. Eventually the sun will run out of hydrogen fuel. But I’m assuming people who spend their time worrying about non existent (or relatively unimportant or very distant) problems are thinking of running out of things on shorter time lines. Although ultimately what they are perhaps thinking most about are questions like how can I, as a religious person (called ‘spiritual’ these days) who rejects traditional religions, find other ways to give my life satisfaction and what can I do to make myself feel good about myself? This person can’t solve war in the Middle East but she can put used paper in the recycling bin.

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