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Agenda for a Sustainable America
Third in a series of 5-year report cards to evaluate U.S. efforts in sustainable development

by John C. Dernbach, Editor


I've been trying to remember the last time I learned something that rocked the foundation of my beliefs—when something irrevocably changed my world, making me lie in my bed at night and tremble at the truth of it. I don't think it has ever happened before, and I did not expect it from the Environmental Law Institute. I regularly have to read environmental law and was sure I was going to be picking through the standard "Classified information means "classified information" as defined in the Classified Information Procedures Act, 18 U.S.C. App. 3, section 1(a)..." when I asked to review this book. Boy howdy, was I WRONG.

The United States is supposed to be the Good Guys with high moral values and Right on our side; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are supposed to be our watchwords. Not so anymore. "Sustainability" is the new society on the rise worldwide. It is about the government deciding who can and can't do what, so that everybody attains a currently undefined standard of living. If somebody succeeds, we all succeed together. If somebody is in the gutter, he has lots of company, but we are all sustained.

This timely and important document is engaging, imminently readable, and terrifying in its simple statement of the atrocities being both forecast and engineered. Most of the chapters report on the lack of progress made by the US since the 1992 Earth Summit and what the government must do to set us on the right path. The first chapter that you must read after the three introductory chapters is number 12, "The Importance of Curbing and Ending Population Growth to Achieve Sustainability". If that alone doesn't spur every mother and grandmother on the planet to action of one form or another, nothing will. I found it interesting that there are discussions about cleaning up waste and religious solidarity and smaller cars and reduction of greenhouse gasses and even how to fund the new-found ideology, but there was no talk about stopping the ruin caused by fighting over which god to worship, or the privation caused by centuries-old border disputes. You can't be sustainable in a war zone.

It goes without saying that you should have this book, as forewarned is fore-armed and we all need to be prepared for the Brave New World  that we are making. I'm so grateful for this heads-up that I won't be waiting for the 4th book to come out; I will be working to be within its pages.

The Book

Environmental Law Institute
January 15, 2009
1585761338 / 978-1585761333
Non-Fiction / Social Issues
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The Reviewer

Beth E. McKenzie
Reviewed 2010
© 2010