Scanning the headlines yesterday for news about sustainability in higher education, I was surprised to find a letter to the editor of the ChicoER newspaper entitled “Sustainability has other goals.” Cynthia Van Auken, a grandmother who in 2002 ran for Congress as a Republican in
NAS has shown that the sustainability movement is not solely environmental; it sells eco-responsibility but delivers big government, economic redistribution, and loss of individual freedoms (see our articles on sustainability). Advocating stewardship of the earth via solar panels, reusable grocery bags, and energy-efficient light bulbs is not inherently ideological. Sustainability on the other hand, with its aims to radically alter our social and economic landscape, is a launching pad for progressive political agendas. And applied to the college campus, where students are ripe for recruitment into progressive activism, sustainability has found a breeding ground. Because sustainability presents itself under the mask of environmentalism, few people question its underlying motives. But this fall we’ve learned of a few concerned people who do question it. Among them are Holly Swanson, founding director of an Oregon-based organization called Operation Green Out that works “to get Green politics out in the open and out of the classroom,” and David Wood, chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Company in California.
The conference in question in Van Auken’s letter, the fifth annual “This Way to Sustainability” summit at CSU Chico, is taking place (Nov. 5-8) as I write this. Last year’s conference had 1,200 attendees, making it the largest student-run sustainability conference in the nation. This year, with nearly 100 (I counted 97) speakers and panelists speaking on themes broadly categorized as Sustainability 101, Green Agriculture, Green Curriculum, Green Energy, Green Ethics, and Green Solutions, the conference wraps its blanket broadly around some wide-ranging themes. There are sessions on pet overpopulation, human overpopulation, natural birth, slavery, happiness, cultural traditions, Christian spirituality, Buddhist spirituality, and the Obama health care plan. Are these really green issues? “Happiness” seems a stretch. But the over-reaching here shows that sustainability, as opposed to environmentalism, can be applied to just about anything.
In addition to these sessions, presenters are speaking on Green Dorm Projects; strategies to “ensure that sustainability is incorporated into all projects, curricula, planning, and operations”; the campaign against bottled water (see “Tap Dancers: Bottled Water and College Students”); “food justice”; the Fair Trade movement; and the “excessive and misdirected military spending.” One speaker from an organization called Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies (GRUB) will tell about fourteen people who “came together to form an intentional community based on sustainable living. They live together, eat together, and work their forty-acre farm together.” Their commune calls to mind the well-intentioned but fated one in
Overpopulation is a fundamental obstacle to sustainability. Unless populations stop growing, continued growth will cancel out reductions in consumption made by individuals and societies... Failure to confront overpopulation is just one example of how the modern environmental movement is failing to protect wild nature, conserve natural resources, and maintain quality of life.
Hmm...sounds like “save the whales and kill the babies” to me.
CSU-Chico’s conference is sponsored in large part by the Associated Students sustainability fund, which comes from a $5 increase in student fees to support sustainability. More and more colleges and universities are implementing such student fees.
The conference is open to the public and free for students, so if you live in the
So we join with Mrs. Van Auken in saying, “Freedom is fleeting. Can you educate yourself enough to maintain it?”