Letter: Enviro’s ‘folded their tent and went home’

The Sierra Club endorsed the…Bruntland Commission and its definition of sustainable development…essentially folded its tent and went home.

To the editor:

Re: Charlie Hodge’s column of Aug. 8, 2014, Passion for Fighting Old Causes Rekindled by Mine Spill.

In Charlie’s column of Aug. 8, he ponders how “now that the cows are out of the barn, the fingers are waving on who left the door open.”

The answer to that question is quite simple and may be shocking for many people.

The answer is Charlie Hodge, in part, and the environmental movement as a whole.

The answer is because the environmental movement failed to engage in a debate over the meaning of the phrase “sustainable development.”

Essentially, led by the Sierra Club, at the height of its power and influence, the Sierra Club endorsed the report of the Bruntland Commission and its definition of sustainable development. The Sierra Club essentially folded its tent and went home.

The rest of the environmental community did the same thing.

By refusing to engage in a debate and establishing its own meaning of the phrase in the public domain, the environmental movement meekly accepted the definition of the Bruntland Commission.

That definition, of course, is meaningless because it means everything to everyone and is contradictory. That the definition is meaningless should be intuitive as should the recognition that other stated contradictions renders the whole report meaningless.

Since the surrender, politicians and bureaucrats of all political stripes have been using the phrase whoever they can. Now we have sustainable mining, forestry, buildings, cities, health care, budgets, etc.

No one stops to think that any human activity that depends on fossil fuels is to sustainable. No one asks what makes mining or forestry sustainable, let along with makes buildings, health care or budgets sustainable.

While forests are renewable, the industry itself is not sustainable. The whole purpose of mining is to deplete ore bodies, Buildings, health care and budgets are not so much sustainable as they are maintainable by continued activity.

The only sustainable transportation is barefoot walking while all other modes require a modicum of human ingenuity and technology, none of which are sustainable.

Humans and all biological organisms are sustainable  because we procreate and obtain nourishment. Buildings do not build themselves, nor can they repair a broken window.

Cities are kept functioning by the umbilical cords that stretch into the surrounding environment to supply the humans living within their nourishment, water and energy.

Sever the umbilical cords and the cities die, and conversely, if the humans leave the cities die. And we are forever cutting budgets so they seem neither maintainable nor sustainable.

The environmentalists lost when they refused to engage in a debate over the meaning of sustainable development. By refusing to engage in verbal combat, they surrendered the field to the politicians and spin doctors whom they so despise.

Having surrendered the field, they are left to revisit issues and watch others like global warming spin out of control.

Unless you engage in the debate, you surrender the field and the environmental movement has surrendered the field.

Robert Miles,



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