Peeking Behind the Curtain of Big Oil-Funded Agenda 21 Conspiracy Mongers

Literature from the Koch brother-funded Americans for Prosperity links smart growth policies to the UN and the sinister-sounding "Agenda 21." Their brochure is actually on the milder side of Agenda 21 paranoia. Image: ##http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/who-behind-agenda-21-paranoia-how-can-we-fight-back.html##TreeHugger##

If you haven’t been following the story of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, here’s a quick overview. Some people believe a two-decade-old, non-binding UN plan to promote sustainable development means the government is going to seize their land and cars and force them to live in tenements. The ultra-conservative John Birch Society says that Agenda 21 “seeks to curtail your freedom to travel as you please, own a gas-powered car, live in suburbs or rural areas, and raise a family.”

Despite its complete detachment from reality, the conspiracy theory seems to have influence and staying power. The Republican National Committee has condemned Agenda 21. The state of Tennessee passed a resolution against it (one legislator even said it would result in “forced abortions“). Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes infamously cited Agenda 21 as the basis of his opposition to Denver’s bike-share system. Tea Party adherents convinced that smart growth projects are a threat to their liberties have disrupted planning meetings all over the country. In Maine, Republican Governor Paul LePage halted an award-winning transportation and land use plan after one such outburst, though state officials denied that the decision was influenced by the conspiracy theorists.

Overall, a small percentage of Americans have been taken in by Agenda 21 paranoia, according to a survey commissioned by the firm Collective Strength, which does market research for many smart growth-related organizations. They found that 85 percent of Americans had never heard of Agenda 21, and only six percent oppose it.

“I genuinely believe the Agenda 21 phenomenon is highly manufactured,” Collective Strength’s Robin Rather told TreeHugger. “It’s not out there in the mainstream.”

She continued:

Usually when you listen to complaints like those of Tea Party members, there are different inflections, a much wider variation. But this isn’t organic and local, the same talking points come up everywhere. They are being played and used. The whole campaign serves no interest to anyone who isn’t trying to ensure that we keep burning as much fossil fuel as we can for as long as possible.

So who’s manufacturing the paranoia?

TreeHugger’s Lloyd Alter runs through the cast of characters on the Agenda 21 speaking circuit. They are a small group of people affiliated with a handful of outfits with strong ties to the fossil fuel industry.

A major player is Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, which Alter calls the “loudest mouthpiece of the Agenda 21 conspiracy crowd.” DeWeese’s conspiracy-fueled “expertise” is propagated by far-right groups including the John Birch Society, the Conservative Political Action Committee, and Americans for Prosperity — which was founded thanks to the fossil fuel-generated wealth of the Koch brothers. DeWeese’s board includes several veterans of the dirty energy industry’s campaign to discredit the scientific consensus on global warming.

For more on the ties between the Agenda 21 conspiracy mongers and the fossil fuel industry, Alter’s full piece is worth a read. Ultimately, he says, disarming the misinformation campaign will depend on exposing these connections.

  • As I read the comments below…I see “people divided” which is exactly what “PTB” (power to be) Want…as if we were unified…we’d crush anything we disagreed with them on.  It doesn’t appear many of the posters are educated or well read.  Anyone who THINKS they own a home better read their title…you ARE a tenant of the State you live-in…You don’t own squat!  And Land Owners rule the day…NOT homeowners.  And that car you drive…who has your MSO…guess who…STATE…Got kids?  Signed a marriage license?
    I bet you also ALL proclaim to be U.S. Citizens, too.  Our forefathers were State Nationals on America…there was NO such thing as the U.S. until they incorporated and STOLE your Republic.  Democracy does NOT equal freedom!
    And in case you missed my point…this Country was founded ON Unity…not division..people agreed to disagree…debated and then came to a consensus after the debate…Now people just argue…or mouth-off when they have NO clue what their talking about!  HOW sad!

  • bvdon

    This story is about Big Oil fighting Agenda 21… and also claims that the Agenda 21 movement is either not real or something totally harmless (unless you actually read what it’s about). When you have groups like “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives” pushing Agenda 21 plans to hundreds of cities in the US – and your story fails to mention them… we have a problem.

  • Gagab

    Those supporting the agenda don’t see the problem with forcing people into smaller areas all the while allowing technology to control and track every aspect of their lives. Of course the government wants us grouped as tightly as possible..

  • steinpiaz

    “Only 500 million world wide of course all others must be eliminatied.” LMAO. Thanks for sharing your illiterate conspiracy filled rant and iillustrating the point of the article.