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U.N. says government must control land use

By Henry Lamb
web posted June 25, 2007

An official delegation from the U.S. government actually signed a U.N. document that says:

"Private land ownership is a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice....  Public control of land use is therefore indispensable...."  

The document was signed by then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carla A. Hills, as head of the U.S. delegation, and William K. Reilly, who became Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.   This 1976 Report of Habitat I: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (subscription), contains 65-pages of specific recommendations about how governments can put an effective end to private land ownership and gain absolute control of land use.

Since then, virtually every land use policy adopted by Congress or the agencies of government has been designed to erode private property rights and grant to government the power to control all land uses.  The Endangered Species Act has been hijacked and is now simply an excuse to prevent land development on private property.  The Clean Water Act has been hijacked, and is now another excuse to prevent the use of private land anywhere near a mud-puddle.  Comprehensive planning is another recommendation from the 1976 document that has recently come into its own, empowering government to prevent private land owners from using their own land.

Now, global warming is being used as an excuse to further expand government's power to control the use of land.  A part of the energy bill now under consideration includes HR 2337, which may be cited as the `Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act'.

What kind of arrogance does it take to think that Congress can write a law that will make any difference at all to any global warming that may take place, or to the survival of wildlife?

Global warming increased dramatically for several hundred years before the Medieval Climate Optimum - without the benefit of Congressional legislation (or SUVs).  Somehow, wildlife survived.  Then, global temperatures plunged dramatically for a few hundred years, driving the Vikings from Greenland, and causing a "Little Ice Age" throughout Europe until the mid-1600s.  Legislation didn't have anything to do with this climate change, either.  Somehow, wildlife survived.

Since the Little Ice Age, global temperatures have been rising rather steadily, until about 1940.  Then a really strange thing happened.  After the war, industry began to pump out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like never before - and the global temperature began a downward spiral for about thirty years.   Legislation didn't have anything to do with it.  Somehow, wildlife survived.

Now, despite all this indisputable history, Congress thinks it can write legislation that will affect global warming (or cooling, as the case may be), and help wildlife survive.

The legislation now proposed will do neither.  What it will do is give the various agencies of government still another excuse to control the use of land.  Under the Endangered Species Act, government has to at least pretend that some bug or weed is endangered, before restricting the use of land.  Under the Clean Water Act, the government has to at least pretend that the land may, at some point, have been a mud-puddle.  Under the pending legislation, a government agency need only suggest that restricting land use will help wildlife survive the impact of global warming.  Who can prove them wrong - or right?

This absurdity is being discussed in the context of America's energy policy.  What should be discussed is how to produce more energy from the known domestic petroleum reserves; how to remove some of the obstacles that prevent building new refineries; how to speed up the licensing process for nuclear energy plants; how to improve the clean coal technology to take advantage of our massive coal reserves.  

What needs to be discussed is how to get government out of the way, so a free market can manufacture automobiles that the people want, without forced subsidies for hybrids, and artificial, death-dealing mileage standards.  The well-intentioned, but misguided efforts to force ever-increasing percentages of ethanol fuels is simply forcing an energy tax on the people who can least afford it.   Every acre of corn that goes into fuel, rather than feed, increases the price of food for everyone - including the poor who don't even own a car.

Here's a message to Congress: Quit trying to play God with your global warming fantasies, and get busy eliminating the earmarks for your pet projects; close the borders to illegals; fully fund our military.  And for the sake of every American, and future generations, publicly disavow the notion that "Private land ownership contributes to social injustice," and abandon the idea that "Public control of land use is indispensable!" ESR

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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