The novel “Agenda 21″ was inspired by Beck’s entreaty to his viewers to “do your own research.” Well, fine — if you read a single paragraph of a 40-chapter political tract, you can spin it all kinds of ways and call it “research.” Beck does as much on his show, and I worry that Beck’s many readers will get the wrong idea about the UN Agenda 21. In principle, it is an important part of city and regional planners’ work, which involves making sure that people can access things they need: food, education, doctors’ offices, stores. It’s about making sure those things are even there when you need them. It’s about helping people enjoy freedom and mobility, even if they are too poor or too old or too young to have a car. Or just don’t want one. It’s about the preservation of localness and sense of place instead of generic-ization, and about maintaining a familiar, comfortable way of life as our population expands from 300 million to over 400 million in my lifetime.Climate Scientist Michael Mann reviewed the book for Popular Science, and makes the following conclusion:
Bad science is hardly the greatest sin in Agenda 21. The real problem is its transparent agenda to sow distrust and cynicism in good faith efforts to protect our environment. The great works of dystopian fiction yield lucid, cautionary tales of the potential dangers that may lurk in our future—be they nuclear holocaust, environmental catastrophe, or the subjugation by machine overlords—if we make imprudent choices in the present. The very worst of the genre, however, do the opposite; they obscure an actual looming threat (e.g. human-caused climate change) by instead drawing our attention away to a false, manufactured one. Nothing could be more dangerous or misguided than a screed like Agenda 21 that attempts to do just that.In the relatively near future, I plan on exploring the social and economic roots of this increasingly mainstream conspiracy theory.