Academia Sustains Sustainable Development

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Ever on the watch for the latest academic buzzwords, we look with curiosity upon the latest offering—sustainable development. “’Sustainability’ is one of the key words of our time,” the National Association of Scholars (NAS) notes.  “We are six years along in the United Nations’ Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.”

“In the United States, 677 colleges and universities presidents have committed themselves to a sustainability-themed Climate Commitment.  Sustainability is, by a large measure, the most popular social movement today in American higher education.  It is, of course, not just a campus movement, but also a ubiquitous presence in the K-12 curriculum, and a staple of community groups, political platforms, appeals to consumers, and corporate policy.”

At the American Thinker, climatologist Fred Singer offers more background. “Sustainable Development (SD) is basically a slogan without a specific meaning,” Singer writes. “Linked to Earth Day (April 22), it masquerades as a call for clean air, green energy, and suggests a pristine bucolic existence for us and our progeny— forever.”

“But in reality, it has become immensely useful to many groups who use the slogan to advance their own special agenda, whatever they may be. The term itself was invented by Gro Harlem Bruntlandt, a Norwegian socialist politician and former prime minister.”

With such origins, it probably should not surprise anyone that those drawn to it tend to be inclined towards the redistribution of wealth. “SD lives on because it is useful in selling various policies,” Singer asserts. “Some examples are:


“1) Restrictions on the use of fossil fuels, under the guise of ‘saving the climate’

“2) Transfers of resources to less developed nations – now justified for climate reasons (but of course, quite contrary to resource conservation)

“3) Striving for world government and UN sovereignty — all for ‘sustainability,’

“4) Promoting a green energy future, using a solar and wind,

“5) Advocating negative population growth, etc.”

On cue, George Washington University is bragging about its achievements in, you guessed it, sustainable development. “Earth Day brought the University accolades and new benchmarks, earning GW a spot in a national review of green colleges for its accelerated efforts to instill green practices and principles on campus,” Riley Kirkpatric and Emily Cirillo reported in The GW Hatchet. “The Princeton Review recognized GW as one of the ‘311 greenest colleges’ in the nation, commending the University’s environmentally related policies, activities and academic offerings.”

“Over the last two years, we have set our goals for climate change and water, and now comes the challenge of meeting those goals,” Sophie Waskow, stakeholder engagement coordinator for the Office of Sustainability at GWU,  said. “We need the whole GW community to do their part to reduce their carbon footprints, water footprints, in addition to the infrastructure investments that the University will make.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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