Sustainability: The Left’s New Façade

When students speak, politicians listen. Green regimes on campus build voting blocs in public. Since McKibben launched divestment, California has enacted a law divesting public pensions from coal companies, and Vermont and New York, along with New York City itself, have taken up similar bills. State attorneys general, eager for a press buzz, have jumped in, too. AGs in New York, California, Massachusetts, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have launched a witch-hunt investigation into ExxonMobil on the McKibben-endorsed allegations that the company lied to the public about global warming. Another 13 attorneys general have announced themselves ready to take up the investigation as well, and the Virgin Islands AG has gone the extra mile to subpoena think tanks that express skepticism of anthropogenic global warming and that at some point in their histories received funding from ExxonMobil. Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, has shown admirable pluck in announcing along with his Alabaman counterpart Luther Strange that they believe scientific debates should remain open, rather than “silenced with threats of criminal prosecution.” Pruitt and Strange deserve hearty praise for their courage, but alas, the sustainability juggernaut moves on.

Already Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has satisfied part of McKibben’s anti-fossil-fuels demands, when in January she announced a moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands. Senators Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have sponsored federal legislation named for one of McKibben’s slogans, the “Keep It in the Ground Act,” which would prohibit new leases for extracting fossil fuels from public lands. McKibben, who has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and stumped for his fellow Vermonter, is in no small part responsible for Sanders’ surge in popularity among the youngest voters.  Of course it’s also the case that Sanders is a proud Democratic socialist, and Millennials favor socialism by a wider margin than any other demographic. But socialism fits nicely with sustainability’s triple bottom line, and at times it’s hard to tell where the one ends and the other begins.

Citizens should take note—or else our constitutional republic may not find itself sustainable.

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