Glenn Beck: Empowering Individuals Through Sustainable Development is a “Socialist Crusade”

By Tripp Brockway

In another paranoid tirade last Friday, Fox News Commentator Glenn Beck announced, yet again, his belief that “socialists” are attempting to take over the world – this time through the concept of “sustainable development.”

His prime target was the United Nations’ Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a document that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio that made sustainable development a goal of the United Nations member countries. Beck purports that Agenda 21 and sustainable development are part of a “socialist created, redistribution of wealth, globalist scheme disguised very poorly as environmental crusades.”

Here’s only a piece of a very long, exhausting rant:

So what is sustainable development in reality? Is it “just a really nice way of saying centralized control over all of human life on planet earth,” as Beck claims? Of course not.

It’s the exact opposite of centralized control. It’s a framework for thinking about how to empower individuals and communities to help them realize their economic potential. Because experience shows that economic growth creates increased awareness about environmental issues.

Sustainable development is actually a simple combination of environmental sustainability and local economic development, as the term itself suggests. According to Agenda 21:

Integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future.”

International cooperation in this area should be designed to complement and support – not to diminish or subsume – sound domestic economic policies, in both developed and developing countries, if global progress towards sustainable development is to be achieved.”

The very nature of sustainable development demands that it take place on the local level. The overall goal is global environmentally-intelligent economic growth, but the implementation of this goal relies on effective understanding and incorporation of the local economic and environmental context.

But Beck’s tirade was very timely. It serves as an excellent opportunity to highlight a report recently released by InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. based international NGOs, which brings sustainable development back into the political spotlight. The report argues that the environmental-conservation and international-development NGOs and government agencies should work together to improve the human condition and promote healthy ecosystems. USAID supports the initiative, and is incorporating sustainable development into its policy goals.

Apparently, a startling number of prominent NGOs and the government’s own Agency for International Development have been brainwashed by the elusive global socialist agents.

Sarcasm aside, the report demonstrates why sustainable development is so crucial to the alleviation of poverty and the protection of the environment in the 21st century.  The development and environment policy circles must recognize that these two issues do not exist in isolation. Rather, successful poverty alleviation in the developing world is dependent on a healthy environment.

I saw the connection between these two issues first hand during my four month stay in Kenya earlier this year.

Kenyans are dependent on the environment for economic success. Seventy-five percent of the country is engaged in agriculture, most of which is rain-fed. As I traveled around the country, I passed by countless fields of wilting maize. I asked several farmers to explain what was happening. They told me in the last 5 to 10 years, the rains no longer came when they were supposed to – almost every one of them attributed it to climate change. Even those who had very little formal education believed that climate change was responsible for shifting weather patterns.

Kenyans are also dependent on the quality of the soil. Poor soil means poor yield, and poor yield means they struggle to feed their families or generate income. If chemical fertilizers and irrigation systems are not properly used, they can degrade the soil over time. This is why sustainable development is so important; simply providing agricultural inputs as a development strategy is not enough. Farmers need to receive training on how to properly employ these inputs in order to ensure that the inputs can continue to serve as tools to assist with income generation into the future.

During my time in Kenya, I helped farmers create farming cooperatives. While Glenn Beck might label these cooperatives as a socialist plot to take over the world, they are the farthest thing from it. These cooperatives actually helped farmers to sell their produce in bulk and reap higher profits, because farmers were able to access economies of scale. They also provided an excellent opportunity to train farmers on environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

These cooperatives are a perfect example of how sustainable development works to integrate environmental concerns into a development strategy: They helped individuals increase their income and pull themselves out of poverty, while simultaneously creating a forum for ensuring environmental health.

If we are going to effectively address climate change and local environmental problems while helping stimulate economic growth, embracing the concept of “sustainable development” is crucial. While Glenn Beck ignorantly rambles about the socialist takeover, we can empower individuals to do something for themselves, their communities and the environment.

– Tripp Brockway, Center for American Progress Energy Intern

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Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:


Why not ignore total trolls? Especially after this retard was kicked from fox and some radio station or whatever.

June 23 at 2:42pm

Joan Potts

oh no, not kicked off, has his own network now, gonna get bigger,, and there are alot of us who know history and whats really happening,,just watch,, you will see,,

June 28 at 6:52pm

Peter S. Mizla

Beck seems to have succumbed to his own inane rantings- driving him over the edge.
Accusing everyone of Socialism, seems to be his crusade- bringing back the skeletons of Joe McCarthy- and we know what happen to him in the end.

June 23 at 2:54pm

Mike Roddy

This guy’s even weirder than I thought. Glenn, why not oppose ocean fishing restrictions and scrubbers for coal plants while you’re at it? Like his friends in the oil industry, he is in the thrall of thanatos.

June 23 at 3:53pm

Adam Stallings

It’s funny how Beck confuses social responsibility with Socialism, but then again, he confuses everything with Socialism.

June 23 at 4:03pm

Christopher Boos

Among Beck’s most hated things are sustainable development and churches that promote social justice? Really, at this point, I can’t help but think less of people who watch him.

June 23 at 4:09pm

Wendy Falzoi

he is a nut

June 23 at 4:17pm

Adam Hasz

The topics of sustainable development and Agenda 21 are very timely, as the Rio+20 Summit happening next year could potentially lead to a new global framework for integrating sustainable development and climate change. Read more about Rio+20 here: http://switchboard.nrdc.or​g/blogs/jscherr/race_to_ri​o_-_earth_summit_201.html.

June 23 at 5:29pm


I hadn’t ever realized I was a socialist before reading Glenn’s comments about those who are working for sustainable development. It reminded me of Bill McKibben’s reaction when he found out he was a communist.


June 23 at 5:38pm

Bill Walker

“Socialism” apparently means caring about the welfare of anybody you don’t personally know.

June 23 at 6:17pm

Gerardo Gambirazzio

Yes, such as using tax payer money to bail out the private sector back in 2008, eh?

June 26 at 5:14pm


As much as I dislike Beck, images comparing him to the animal kingdom, is dissing the animals and a cheap kind of propaganda slur! Further his face at a prime spot when I reload the page, might make me reload the page less.

June 23 at 8:08pm

Miles Lunn

Nothing socialistic about taking individual action to have a cleaner environment. Forcing people to take action could be considered socialism depending on one’s views but voluntary action is not. Socialism is about government control and collectivism, not about anti-progressive policies. Taking progressive actions on an individual basis is totally a libertarian and capitalist idea.

June 24 at 12:28am

Linda Sheets Gagliardi

Isn’t he gone yet?

June 24 at 6:22am

Robert West

Unfortunately, the farce is with us.

June 24 at 6:24am

Tenney Naumer

I can’t wait for him to get back to the fringe where he belongs.

June 24 at 3:49pm

Climate Hawk

Months ago Mother Jones had a piece on conservative paranoia about Agenda 21. Perhaps beckscrement is slipping. This is rather old news.

June 25 at 12:44am

George Curran

That flaming Bolshevik, Peter Senge, from that uber radical hotbed, Sloan School of Mgt at MIT, has been a champion of sustainable development writing a book on the subject in 2008. I think Beck’s hair would ignite if he only knew.

June 25 at 6:18am


I see something quite the opposite – a worldwide conservative plot. I see unions and worker rights attacked everywhere. Austerity for the middle class while the bankers make off like bandits. Cuts to socialized (what I call civilized) health care. Privatization of government programs, services and utilities. Lower taxes everywhere in order to reduce the size of government. Regulations to protect out health and safety seen as an impediment to development.

We socialists are just trying to hang to what we have, what we have worked so hard to get for the past 50 to 100 years.

Glen Beck and the rest of the conservative movement are destroying civilization, they’re the incompetent Roman Emperors, the invaders will this time be climate change and total economic collapse for all.

June 25 at 3:47pm

Joan Potts

was in afscme for many years,,you all jst don’t realize, the unions take your money and you get nothing in return except propaganda,, wake up kids,,,

June 28 at 6:53pm

Rodney Glasspoole

If yoiu are against “Sustainable Development”, you are in favor of unsustainable development. The problem is that capitalism is based on a belief in unlimited growth. However, we live on a finite planet with only so much of each resource. We are at the limit of fossil fuels and so to many of the metals that we count on. Either we find a way to bring our development into balance with the resources or we face extreme disruptions. As is said so often, either we deal with reality or reality will deal with us.

June 27 at 11:36am

Joan Potts

well, you all are what is referred to in the statement,,’there are none so blind as those who cannot see’.. I for one know by history and what is happening that Mr Glenn Beck is right on,, say no now, but when the going gets tough, remember what he said.. it is coming true and you have all been blind sighted,, God help you all, you’ll need it, and George Sorus might think he is all knowing, but he is not,, My soul is saved because the anti christ was already defeated with Christs acension, but any unbelievers have to find for themselves, the Way the Truth and the Life.. know I have. As for trolls prokaryotes,, anyone who thinks for them selves know who the real trolls are..

June 28 at 6:41pm

Brittney Buelow

“When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.” – Glenn Beck

June 28 at 6:48pm

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