Personal Liberty vs. Sustainable Growth

Personal Liberty versus “Sustainable Growth”

By Dr. Greg Brannon & Rocco J. Piserchia

Founders Truth

February 20, 2012


It has long been known that liberty is tied to the institution of private property.  The Decalogue codified private property in four words: “Thou shall not steal.”  George Washington


“Private property and freedom are inseparable.”  George Washington


“Private property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”  John Adams


“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.”  James Madison




The purpose of this paper is to understand the contemporary view of sustainability in light of it’s origin with the United Nations.  This contemporary understanding of sustainability will then be contrasted with liberty as defined by the US Founding Fathers.  It will be argued that a proper understanding of traditional liberty includes private property rights – property rights are intrinsic to individual liberty.  Both individual liberty and private property rights are antithetical to the modern notion of sustainability.     


The Wake County Sustainability Task Force

“For the purposes of the [Wake County] Sustainability Task Force, sustainability has been defined as utilizing practices that protect the economic, environmental, and social qualities of life for current and future generations.  The overall goal of the Sustainability Task Force has been to develop recommendations that balance the community’s need for continued economic prosperity with the need to preserve and protect our natural resources as the County marches toward the next population milestone of 1.5 million residents.” (Wake County Environmental Stewardship Agenda, August 2011; page 6,).  “The Board of Commissioners directed the Sustainability Task Force to focus on three critical areas: 1. Water Resources Conservation and Management 2. Solid Waste Reduction and Management 3. Energy Conservation and Management” (Ibid, p. 6).

This same report from The Wake County Sustainability Task Force presupposes that “renewable energy” needs to be developed since “fossil fuels” will eventually be depleted. “…a transition to renewable energy still has traction because, eventually, the world’s supply of fossil fuels will run out unless there are dramatic reductions in energy consumption or increases in energy efficiency. The endless supply of renewables is a major benefit if the economic and technical issues can be resolved. Another advantage of renewables is that they are dramatically cleaner than fossil fuels. For those concerned about air pollution and/or greenhouse gases [bold italics added] this is a major advantage for renewables…” (Ibid, page 19).  Unfortunately the Task Force accepts the presupposition of anthropogenic or man made global warming.  The scientific basis for such concern needs to be questioned and will be addressed in this paper.  

UN Inception and Implementation

This view of sustainability or “sustainable growth” finds it’s origin with the United Nations, specifically a UN conference from 1972.

… the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Environment, which identified “environmental protection” as the world’s greatest problem, and gave the world the U.N. Environmental Program, followed almost immediately by Nixon’s Executive Order that created the EPA [bold italics added]. Then came the 1976 U.N. Conference on Human Settlements, signed by the U.S., which proclaimed that “Public control of land use is… indispensable.” The next major step was the creation of the U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland. The commission issued its final report in 1987, called Our Common Future. This document produced the concept and defined the term “Sustainable development” to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This rather ambiguous definition was spelled out in great detail in a 40-chapter, 300-page document titled Agenda 21, signed and adopted by 179 nations in 1992 at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Actually, the document was adopted by 179 nations, including the signature of George H.W. Bush. A nation’s signature on a U.N. document obligates the nation to do nothing in opposition to the goals of the document, and to promote implementation of the document’s recommendations. Agenda 21 is not a treaty subject to Senate ratification. It was never intended to be a treaty… At the same conference, however, two treaties were adopted by the U.N.: The framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by Bush and ratified by the Senate; and the Convention on Biological Diversity, not signed by Bush, signed by Clinton, but not ratified by the Senate. Nothing in Agenda 21 is legally binding on any government until a government – at any level – adopts an Agenda 21 recommendation as a law or ordinance, or as an Executive Order such as EO 12852 issued by President Bill Clinton in 1993 in response to Agenda 21 recommendation 8.7: “Governments, in cooperation, where appropriate, with international organizations, should adopt a national strategy for sustainable development…” Bill Clinton’s EO created the “President’s Council on Sustainable Development” expressly for the purpose of implementing the recommendations in Agenda 21 throughout federal, state, and local governments. The EPA and other federal agencies offered challenge grants to state and local government to promote the implementation of the recommendations in Agenda 21. The federal government gave more than $5 million to the American Planning Association to produce “Growing Smart: Legislative Guidebook,” which provides model legislation for states that, when adopted, requires counties and cities to adopt recommendations found in Agenda 21 (Rep. Herger is Wrong about Agenda 21 by Henry Lamb)

The Rio Declaration

Following are three principles from the UN Rio Declaration of August 12, 1992:

Principle 3 The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs [bold italics added] of present and future generations.

Principle 4 In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection [[bold italics added] shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.

Principle 5 All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world [bold italics added]. (

These three Principals illustrate the underlying agenda of UN sustainability which is nothing less than the classical Marxist notion of wealth redistribution.  Environmental concerns and “development” in concert with sustainability reveal that the objective is to incrementally eliminate private property ownership.  Of course such an agenda will never ameliorate the living standards of the vast majority of the population – it will however concentrate wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

The ICLEI Connection

Well meaning bureaucrats who are attempting to implement what they consider to be sustainable or smart growth may have little or no idea where this notion originated.  The UN mandate for sustainability is actually being fostered in the USA and around the world, in large part, through an organization called ICLEI.  

ICLEI was founded in 1990 as the ‘International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’. The Council was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at our inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York… The organization’s name is ‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’. In 2003, ICLEI’s Members voted to revise the organization’s mission, charter and name to better reflect the current challenges local governments are facing. The ‘International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ became ‘ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’ with a broader mandate to address sustainability issues [bold italics added] … Our programs and projects advocate participatory, long-term, strategic planning processes that address local sustainability while protecting global common goods. This approach links local action and solutions to the global challenges we are facing, and therefore also links local action to global goals and targets such as: the Rio Conventions, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, The UN Convention on Biological Diversity, The UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Agenda 21, the Habitat Agenda, the Millennium Development Goals, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (

ICLEI lists the following agencies as some of their “Partners” or those organizations that finance ICLEI: the World Economic Forum, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank, IPGN (the Intl. Green Purchasing Network), the Clinton Climate Initiative, the Climate Group, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), REEEP – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, Global Footprint Network and the International Centre for Sustainable Cities (  It’s evident that the impetus behind ICLEI’s sustainability agenda is the concept of man made global warming or, more specifically, the determination to reduce man made global warming.

Among the over 1200 local governments that are members of ICLEI we find the cities of Raleigh and Cary in Wake County as well as Durham, Carrboro and Chapel Hill in the Triangle.  Orange County is also a member.  One has to question just how much influence ICLEI is exerting to implement their globalist agenda in the Triangle alone.  ICLEI is also represented in NC outside the Triangle with Charlotte and Winston-Salem as members.

The Science behind Sustainable Development       

All UN initiatives re sustainability are built upon the premise that man made global warming is a reality and carbon, specifically carbon dioxide, is toxic. Both premises are patently false. The contribution of man made carbon to global warming is minimal at best.  Furthermore mankind and animals are carbon based life forms.  Our global environment is naturally controlled such that people and animals produce carbon which is then used as fuel by plants.  Plants in turn then produce oxygen which sustains life.  Abundant documentation re the myths of man made global warming and carbon dioxide as a toxin may be found at the following sites:,,,,, and

Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Summit states that real science which contradicts their agenda should never be considered relevant.


In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.  Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. (

The UN architects of global warming didn’t attempt to overtly institute taxes on breathing but instead utilized junk science to create the illusion that carbon dioxide is toxic and therefore must be severely limited to sustain life for future generations.  In the USA we still see the persistence of politicians attempting to legislate “carbon credits” which amounts to a tax on living. Evidently it makes sense to corrupt politicians and those corrupt corporations who want to sell “carbon credits” in order to reduce our carbon footprint. They desire to create another layer of perpetual de facto taxation paid to select private corporations with the goal of this financial burden allegedly to reduce man made carbon – how brilliant.      

The following is from a constituent letter written by NC Senator Kay

Hagan dated November 23, 2009:

… On June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009 (H.R.2454). Similarly, on September 30, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733) was introduced in the Senate. It has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for further review. Both pieces of legislation would regulate carbon emissions by establishing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from large U.S. sources like electric utilities and oil refiners. The goal of both bills is to reduce emissions through a system of tradable permits [bold italics added] modeled after the successful Clean Air Act program to prevent acid rain. If emitters are unable to reduce their emissions, they will be able to purchase allowances from other sources that have excess permits. This market-based approach is preferred because it provides economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions at the lowest cost to the economy. The bills would also invest in renewable and clean energy… I strongly believe that the United States must serve as a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that deteriorate our atmosphere and threaten our environment [bold italics added].

Senator Hagan unfortunately is not alone is espousing the colossal fiction that carbon, vilified as “greenhouse gas emissions”, is harming our environment.   

Selling Sustainable Growth

The agenda of sustainable growth has been implemented largely by stealth – the UN has used organizations like ICLEI to influence local policy while the same polices are advanced nationally via executive orders, treaties and Congressional legislation.  During this on-going process there’s a deliberate emphasis not to mention that these measures have originated with the UN. Argumentum ad hominem or personal attacks are routinely employed in an attempt to discredit those who expose the UN agenda behind sustainable or “smart” growth, e.g., a News and Observer editorial written last week by someone who didn’t care to share his name reads,

The United Nations, born in 1945, has had more than six decades to strip the United States of its sovereignty and subsume us in “One World” government. Hasn’t happened. But in the minds of certain people on the right, those who rarely meet a conspiracy theory they don’t embrace, it’s not for lack of trying… So pity the unsuspecting members of a Wake County Sustainability Task Force who showed up at a county commissioners’ work session this week … These folks ran headlong into an anti-sustainability tsunami presided over by Paul Coble, … Coble surely knows better than to think a 20-year-old, non-binding U.N. conference report called “Agenda 21” has anything to do with Wake County, but there he was, playing to paranoia regardless. He asserted that the local task force was directly or indirectly influenced by “Agenda 21” notions – a charge conveniently impossible to refute. Naturally, the local report doesn’t mention the United Nations – proving just how devious the task force is (‘One World’ wackiness, )


Perhaps the most revealing quotation concerning the plan to implement sustainable growth comes from J. Gary Lawrence, a planner for Seattle, “Participating in a U.N. advocated planning process would very likely bring out many … who would actively work to defeat any elected official … undertaking Local Agenda 21. So we will call our process something else, such as “comprehensive planning,” “growth management,” or “smart growth” (Lawrence, J. Gary, The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium, The Millennium Papers, UNED-UK, Issue 2, (1998), 3.)   


A prominent proponent of sustainability, Maurice Strong, Secretary General, U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, 1992 (also known as the  Rio Earth Summit) revealed the radical social engineering inherent in this policy, “…current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable” ( p. 8).


  Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chair of ICLEI and Clerk of the Circuit  and County Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida, stated that “individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective” in the process of implementing Sustainable Development. (Peros, Joan, unpublished report, UNCED Rio+10 Summit – Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002). Al Gore made the remarkable admission that Sustainable Development will bring about “a wrenching transformation” of American society (“Minor shifts in policy, marginal adjustments in ongoing programs, moderate improvements in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change – these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle, and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary.” Al Gore, Earth in the Balance. Plume (1993): 274).  


The entire agenda of sustainability is a classic example of a fabricated crisis by government.  Governments have historically manufactured societal crises in order to exert draconian controls and stifle individual freedom.  If the full agenda of sustainable growth is achieved the primary result sustained will be tyranny.

The Highest Law of the Land

… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… (US Declaration of Independence).  

These are not mere words but the foundation on which our constitutional republic is built. This Lockian view is clear – any government at any level that does not protect our unalienable rights is illegitimate insofar as our unalienable rights are not protected. This foundation is also expressed in the NC Constitution in Article 1 Section 1,

We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.

The US Constitution also establishes that all government must be a republican form of government, i.e., a representative republic.  

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence. (Article 4, Section 4).

  In this form of government the elected representatives are responsible and held accountable by the people. Contrast this Constitutional expression of government with power exercised by unelected bureaucrats who allege to represent the community.  Such bureaucrats regularly exercise their power in the federal, state and local governments – all to the detriment of the liberty of the individual.  In a true republican form of government the individual’s rights are protected whereas the collective or communitarian government diminishes personal liberty.  Much of sustainable or “smart” growth operates from the false premise that unelected bureaucrats are the voice of the community or reflect “communitarian” values.        


The preservation of individual liberty is enshrined in the US Declaration which asserts that certain rights are unalienable – these rights are from our Creator and recognized by government. These rights are innate and therefore can not be denied by government since they did not originate from government.  This idea is also found in the NC Constitution (Preamble and Article 6, Section 8). When a government degenerates by denying individual liberty under the guise of the collective or for “communitarian” concerns it effectively takes the place of our Creator.  Sustainability or sustainable growth rests upon the premise that the needs of mankind should be subservient to the environment.  A proper understanding of humanity recognizes that the environment exists for the benefit of mankind, not vice versa.

True or legitimate ecology is based upon verifiable science and is a valid pursuit – the environment should be treated with respect as part of mankind’s stewardship.  The most effective environmentalism will persist when free markets permit ownership and uninhibited use of land as private property.  “Owners of private property have every incentive to conserve their resources rather than squander them for immediate gain. Further, most people wish to provide for their children; insuring the welfare of future generations requires no collective action beyond this.” (  Modern sustainability is a manifestation of social engineering.  Social engineering will always undermine individual property rights and individual liberty. When an alleged concern for the collective or community is enacted individual liberty will be gradually eviscerated and poverty ensues. We should not pursue such destructive policies.    

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was or never will be.” Thomas Jefferson,1816

“I believe that my theory is correct; for whatever be the question upon which I am arguing, whether it be religious, philosophical, political, or economical; whether it affects well being, morality, equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, property, labor, exchange, capital, wages, taxes, population, credit, or government; at whatever point of the scientific horizon I start from, I invariably come to the same thing – the solution of the social problem is in liberty.”  (The Law by Frederic  Bastiat, p. 53)

“And now, after having vainly inflicted upon the social body so many systems, let them end where they ought to have begun – reject all systems, and try liberty – liberty, which is an act of faith in God and His work.” (The Law by Frederic Bastiat, p. 55)



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