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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tea Party targets sustainable development

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Can we start calling Teabaggers what they are now? And, what are they? I think they're a bunch of ignorant, frightened, conspiracy theorists whose political aspirations are funded by corporate giants.

Here's one of the fools' latest conspiracy theories: Sustainable growth is bad for America because it will take away our rights to be wasteful, ignorant drones who suck up everything corporate America sells us and never question the sustainability of those products. In other words, they'd like us to continue to be blinded by our shiny gadgets, preoccupied by our commutes and too busy hustling to pay any attention to what's really going down in our world.

From Mother Jones:

First, they took on the political establishment in Congress. Now, tea partiers have trained their sights on a new and insidious target: local planning and zoning commissions, which activists believe are carrying out a global conspiracy to trample American liberties and force citizens into Orwellian "human habitation zones."

At the root of this plot is the admittedly sinister-sounding Agenda 21, an 18-year-old UN plan to encourage countries to consider the environmental impacts of human development. Tea partiers see Agenda 21 behind everything from a septic tank inspection law in Florida to a plan in Maine to reduce traffic on Route 1. The issue even flared up briefly during the midterms, when Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes accused his Democratic opponent of using a bike-sharing program to convert Denver into a "United Nations Community."

Agenda 21 paranoia has swept the tea party scene, driving activists around the country to delve into the minutiae of local governance. And now that the midterm elections are over, they're descending on planning meetings and transit debates, wielding PowerPoints about Agenda 21, and generally freaking out low-level bureaucrats with accusations about their roles in a supposed international conspiracy.

Virginia activist Donna Holt is among those who believe that Agenda 21—unveiled during the UN's "Earth Summit" in 1992—is really a plot to curtail private property rights and deprive Americans of precious constitutional freedoms. In reality, the document will do nothing of the sort, but it has nevertheless been the target of conspiracy-minded UN haters for years. Holt and other tea partiers are taking their cues from people like Henry Lamb, a WorldNetDaily columnist and founder of Sovereignty International and Freedom21, groups designed to fight Agenda 21 and its ilk. He has been arguing for decades that the UN is secretly plotting to herd humans into crowded cities so that the rest of the world can be devoted to wildlife preservation.

Read the rest of this article, by Stephanie Mencimer, here.

Back in reality, we need to preserve our green spaces for several reasons: To quell urban flooding, for food production,  green space sucks up carbon dioxide and releases oxygen ... among other important reasons, not to mention the fact that urban living helps us cut down on the use of valuable resources like oil and gas. See, ideally, if everything is within walking or biking distance, we'll walk or bike instead of drive. And, for things across town? We can take mass transit instead of our own, individual gas guzzlers.

Meanwhile, constant development is gobbling up green space at an alarming rate. Protecting that green space isn't an effort to herd humans, it's an effort to save humans.

Further reading: The Lynx Blue Line revisited: A possible $200 million in cost cuts puts the fate of proposed extension, stations and park-and-rides in the balance -- The Charlotte Observer

Here's a video from UNC Charlotte Urban Institute about our area's urban growth:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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