Issues & Insights

The Ugly Side Of The Pursuit for ‘Sustainability’


Excerpted from the Pacific Research Institute’s Capital Ideas

Los Angeles County has adopted a “sustainability” program that officials expect “to enhance the well-being of every community in the county while reducing damage to the natural environment and adapting to the changing climate.” This is considered smart. By people who should know better.

Our smartest should know central planning has never worked and never will. Yet the project has been met with gushing approval. It’s “bold,” “ambitious,” “progressive,” “forward thinking,” and a “model” for other big cities.

The program, called “OurCounty,” has 12 goals, 37 strategies, and 159 “actions.” Among the dozen objectives, overflowing with green buzzwords, are a “fossil fuel-free L.A. County,” “resilient and healthy community environments,” “equitable and sustainable land use,” “thriving ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity,” the “sustainable production and consumption of resources,” and, to advance the state’s road diet agenda, “a convenient, safe, clean, and affordable transportation system that enhances mobility and quality of life while reducing car dependency.”

The plan also includes, says Sean Hecht, co-executive director of UCLA’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, a plan consultant, “economic sustainability, with the broader goal of equity,” because no green deal, new or otherwise, would be complete without plans for the political management of the economy. Nor would it exclude the politics dictated by social justice organizations, such as the Liberty Hill Foundation, which believes “inequality is engineered, not inevitable” and calls Los Angeles the “the nation’s wage theft capital.” According to UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, that group played a “key” role in the OurCounty project.

For the county to achieve its goals, officials will have to take a deep dive into central planning. How else will they be able to organize a community in which, according to Curbed Los Angeles, “oil derricks and refineries would disappear from the region. Gas stations would become irrelevant,” and “streetscapes would be dominated by electric vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians”?

The planners themselves admit that OurCounty is a “comprehensive” endeavor on a “scale has never been tried.”

Well, maybe it’s never been tried if we leave out the many failed 20th century attempts to order entire nations in Eastern Europe around an “enlightened” ideology promising a prosperous and egalitarian utopia.

This is not to say the Los Angeles planners are socialists but is said merely to point out the defects, as well as the inherent coercion, in trying to use government as an organizing tool.
The attraction of central planning “seems, at first sight, so reasonable that it is hard to see why any intelligent person would oppose it,” the late theologian and author David Elton Trueblood once wrote, because “every intelligent person engages in planning. A thoughtful man plans his day, his week, his year, his life work.”

Yet, “planning for another involves factors which are totally absent in planning for one’s self.”

Read the rest of this article at the Pacific Research Institute website.

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Guest Contributor


  • Lol Angeles. One need only look at it’s current state to realize that what they are proposing has already been tried. This iteration is simply the new updated, more ‘woke’ version and will simply cost more taxpayer money without solving any of the real and staggering problems that exist there.

  • I heard an investigative report on the radio (I believe it was on the Don & Ken Show, 640 AM), which revealed that the LA Police Department leased something like 70 all-electric cars so they could meet the non-fossil-fuel goal set for them by the City.

    The report said the cars could not be used for police work so they sat on a lot. A couple of them were used by individual employees to travel to and from work or for to and from travel for meetings or events, but that was rare. The cars mostly sat on a lot unused.

    This is how government bureaucracies work. The Democrats, particularly Bernie, want government bureaucrats to run every aspect of our lives.

  • “…A thoughtful man plans his day, his week, his year, his life work.”

    Yet, “planning for another involves factors which are totally absent in planning for one’s self.”

    Planning for oneself demonstrates responsibility. Planning for others imposes fascism.



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