A conspiracy theory that 90 percent of the world's population will be killed off spreads widely on pandemic fears.
- The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is spreading widely thanks to pandemic fears.
- The theory falsely claims the United Nations and governments are colluding to wipe out 90 percent of the global population.
- Agenda 21 is based on an actual UN resolution from 1992 and is aimed at the sustainability movement.
In an age drowning in conspiracy theories, Agenda 21, a tinfoil favorite that goes back to the '90s has been reignited by the coronavirus. The gist – a totalitarian world cabal is trying to depopulate the planet by 90 percent and the U.N. is in on it. As are numerous governments (including yours). The reason for the conspiracy theory's recent surge in shares and popularity? It can tie in vaccinations, Soros, Bill Gates, and 5G into a neat nexus of paranoid fantasies.
The conspiracy, spun out of a nonbinding UN resolution on sustainable development from 1992, actually envisions a whole New World Order that is supposedly being brought into existence by nefarious global operators. The "21" part of Agenda 21 refers to the target year of 2021 from the original UN plan. By now that goal post has been moved to 2030, by which date, the conspiracy claims, we would get a one-world government, subjugating the rest of the nations. The smörgåsbord of fears includes one world currency, one religion (if any), one military, no private property, no family units, mandatory vaccines, microchips for everyone, Social Credit System, 5G monitoring, and the government raising your children and controlling all the schools. People would not be able to own cars or businesses as everything will be managed either by corporations or governments.
Agenda 21, as it's currently presented in social media on accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers, also attacks Universal Basic Income and purports people will be segregated into human settlement zones (a favorite of dystopian teenage fiction).
And there'd be no fossil fuels, a fact that doesn't necessarily sound so bad, but is part of a hyperbolic list of horrible things that attacks the environmental movement and certain progressive goals.
Of course, some parts of the conspiracy may not sound too far-fetched to us, as they draw upon the tensions of our current societies and have grains of truth to them. But taken as a whole, Agenda 21 is a collection of unproven and unprovable attacks on reason and truth that was "being used by extremists and mainstream politicians to stoke fears and stifle rational policymaking across the country" as concluded a 2014 report by the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC). The same can be said of today.
How to shut down coronavirus conspiracy theories | Michael Shermer
As explained to BuzzFeed News by Heidi Beirich, who co-authored the SPLC report, "Fears are running rampant in the far right that [the coronavirus] is some part of a conspiracy, maybe by the Chinese government, other global actors, even George Soros, to do 'something' to conservatives or Americans." What does this lead to? "It's not surprising that Agenda 21 would pop up again in that environment," thinks Beirich.
Lest you think only fringe elements can believe such a modern anxiety hodgepodge, these beliefs find their way into mainstream conversations, with Newt Gingrich, Senator Ted Cruz, and Glenn Beck (who wrote a book about it) bringing Agenda 21 up in their speeches. And the 2012 platform of the Republican Party stated flatly "we strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty."
Over the years, fears of Agenda 21 found their way into opposing efforts by local governments to promote resource and land conservation or build bike lanes or public transportation hubs. Real-world impact caused by oversized reactions to an agreement that SLPC described as "a feel-good guide that cannot force anyone, anywhere, to do anything at all."
There is enough fertile ground for such ideas to spread, as evidenced by a published letter to the editor that maintains Agenda 21 wants to get the world population under 500 million. That means about 7 billion (or 90 percent of us) have to be eliminated somehow. And, of course, what better way than a pandemic?
The 1992 UN resolution that gave birth to this dangerous meme was a rather innocuous affair, not worthy of such continued attention. U.N. often comes across as a powerless and ineffectual organization and claims of such well-coordinated evil designs are highly farfetched. Of course, that's what they want you to think.
As it explains on a page of the UN Division for Sustainable Development Goals website dedicated to Agenda 21, the document is a "comprehensive plan of action" that is supposed to be carried out at every level – global, national and local. It is to be undertaken by all the organizations that comprise the United Nations System as well as the leaders of nations. In fact, the signers at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio in June 1992 included 178 governments.
The agreement was also to apply rather broadly to "major groups in every area" where humans impact the environment. The misinformation about Agenda 21 brings potential harm to millions of people, while the goals of the document itself are concerned with managing various types of waste, women's health, public transportation and encouraging sustainability cooperation that should start at the local level to be successful.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the globe, the wild spread of theories that will stop some people from taking necessary precautions, medicine, and eventual vaccines, is a tragic illness of its own.
Read the full text (comprised of 351 pages) of the Agenda 21 here.
Fascism and conspiracy theories: The symptoms of broken communication
Haley, who's at times been both a supporter and critic of the president, reportedly "shocked" White House officials by announcing the end of her two-year tenure as a U.N. ambassador.
- Nikki Haley has resigned as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
- Haley didn't offer a clear reason why she's stepping down, but said "it's time."
- The resignation reportedly came as a surprise to many White House officials, though Trump said she first floated the idea of stepping down about six months ago.
Nikki Haley has resigned from her position as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and plans to leave the administration by the end of 2018.
In an Oval Office press briefing, President Donald Trump accepted Haley's resignation and praised her two-year tenure.
"She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together. We've solved a lot of problems and we're in the process of solving a lot of problems," Trump said.
Haley said it's been an honor "to serve the country I love so much," and that the Trump administration's stances on foreign policy have helped the U.S. become respected in the international community.
Trump said Haley teased the idea of resigning six months ago.
"She told me probably six months ago, 'You know maybe at end of the year -- at the end of the two year period -- but by the end of the year I want to take a little time off, I want to take a break.'"
However, multiple sources reported that White House staffers and senior officials were "shocked" by the announcement. Haley, who's at times clashed with administration officials, didn't offer a clear reason for her resignation.
"There's no personal reason," she said. "It's very important for government officials to understand when it's time to step aside...I want to make sure this administration, this president, has the strongest person to fight."
Trump said he hopes Haley will return to the administration in some capacity, and that she could have her "pick" of administration posts.
(Read Haley's full resignation letter here.)
Why did Haley resign?
Without any explicit explanation, there's only speculation about why the U.N. ambassador chose to announce her resignation just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.
The South Carolina swap
One possibility is that Haley plans to take the Senate seat of Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the state for which Haley spent six years as governor, should he replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, though Graham said he has no interest in pursuing the position. To gain the Senate seat, Haley would need the approval of South Carolina's governor, Republican Henry McMaster, according to Senate vacancy rules.
Clashes with the Trump administration
Others note that Haley has had a strained relationship with White House officials like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. CNN wrote that "Haley was outwardly very tough within the UN (and the Trump administration), she was reportedly a voice urging more moderation -- and toeing the preferred line of establishment Republicans -- in private."
Haley has also clashed with Trump himself, perhaps most visibly in April when she announced U.S. sanctions on Russia. Larry Kudlow, the Trump administration's top economic adviser, later told media there were no sanctions and that Haley was confused. Haley shot back on live TV that she doesn't "get confused."
More recently, Haley penned an opinion piece responding to an anonymous op-ed published by the New York Times in September that outlined a secret resistance inside the White House. Haley wrote:
"...I don't agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it. I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person."
The treatment of sexual assault allegations has likely been one area of disagreement between Haley and the president.
"They should be heard, and they should be dealt with," Haley told CBS in December. "And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
2020 presidential run
Some have speculated that Haley could be plotting a 2020 presidential bid, though she's denied that and said she plans to campaign for Trump. Still, if Haley does indeed believe that the special counsel investigation could ruin the current administration, she'd be in a unique position to run for office, as Jennifer Rubin noted in an opinion piece for the Washington Post:
"She will then be in a position to pick up the pieces, a unifying figure not objectionable to Trump cultists or to the flock of Republicans who when things go downhill will claim they opposed Trump all along. She will be untainted and arguably the most highly credentialed challenger to Trump still within the GOP fold in 2020."
It's also worth noting that the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal nonprofit watchdog group in Washington, issued a report to the State Department on Monday night asking for officials to investigate how Haley and her husband had accepted free flights from businessmen in 2017, which could constitute violations of executive branch rules on accepting gifts.
Taking a break
Despite rumors of a presidential run, it's also plausible that Haley, who's served in high-level government positions for more than a decade, simply wants to take a break from politics, possibly with the intent to rest or make more money.
"It's been eight years of intense time, and I'm a believer in term limits," Haley told reporters on Tuesday. "I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job."
Haley is close with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Haley praised Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the Oval Office briefing on Tuesday.
"Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands," Ms. Haley said. "And Ivanka has been just a great friend, and they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about, because we're a better country because they're in this administration."
Some have speculated that Trump could pick his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump to fill the role, noting Haley's positive comments and the fact that Ivanka's Twitter account recently began following many government accounts on Monday.
According to @Trumpsalert, @IvankaTrump started following a lot of Defense Department accounts yesterday pic.twitter.com/J3ZtngjloG
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) October 9, 2018
The New York Times noted some other possible successors, including "Dina Powell, a former deputy national security adviser to the president, and Richard A. Grenell. Mr. Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, served as spokesman for John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, when he was ambassador to the United Nation under former President George W. Bush."
New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used survey data from 2 million Americans to examine the links between climate change and mental health issues.
- The study examined survey data reported by 2 million Americans between 2002 and 2012.
- The results showed that hotter and wetter months were associated with increases in mental health issues like stress and depression.
- Women and low-income Americans seem to have been most affected by the weather changes.
The United Nations' top climate science panel recently warned that the world would see "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" if global temperatures rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial averages in coming years. Such an increase would likely be catastrophic for millions of people, particularly those who live in island nations or along the world's coasts.
Now, new research suggests rising temperatures could also have similarly disastrous effects on mental health.
The link between weather and mental health
A paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that exposure to hotter temperatures, increased precipitation and tropical cyclones was associated with an increase in mental health issues. These effects will likely hit women and low-income Americans the hardest, according to the research team led by Nick Obradovich, a data scientist at the MIT Media Lab.
"If we push global temperature rise into the 2 degrees-plus Celsius range, the impacts on human well-being, including mental health, may be catastrophic," Obradovich told Inverse.
The team analyzed self-reported data of 2 million Americans who responded to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a health survey, between 2002 and 2012. This survey, which included a location for each respondent, asked people to rate how stress, depression, and "problems with emotions" had affected their mental health over the past 30 days. The researchers then cross-referenced respondents' answers with their location and weather records.
They found that, on average, people were slightly more likely to experience mental health problems during months in which the average temperature exceeded 86 degrees compared to months when average temperatures hovered between 50 and 59 degrees. The results showed less of a contrast in months when the average temperatures ranged from 77 to 86 degrees, suggesting that mental health issues increase as temperatures rise.
The results also showed that months in which there were more than 25 days of precipitation were linked to a 2-percent increase in the probability of mental health issues. What does more rain have to do with climate change? Rising temperatures leads to more evaporation, which puts more water vapor in the atmosphere where it'll eventually come back to Earth as precipitation. The evaporation of more and hotter water also leads to an increase in tropical storms.
Image: Climate Central
Women and low-income Americans affected most
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey data showed that people hit by hurricanes between 2002 and 2012 were 4 percent more likely to experience mental health issues compared to Americans not affected by tropical storms.
Lastly, the team compared the links between weather and mental health along lines of gender and wealth, finding that females and low-income Americans were both 60 percent more likely to experience mental health issues during the hottest months compared to males and high-income Americans, respectively.
Still, the team cautioned that the study results revealed correlations and not necessarily causes.
"We can't be sure," Obradovich told Inverse. "It could be via the impacts of heat on sleep, on daily mood, on physical activity rates, on heat-related illness, on cognitive performance, or any complex combination of the above. Unfortunately, these processes are so complex that we can't easily identify precisely which mechanism is driving our results."
Most of us will still be alive then. Maybe.
- It's statistically possible to make enough changes to stave it off, but politically it looks unlikely if attitudes at the top do not change.
- We're already seeing effects from a 1-degree (C) change.
- What can we do? There are a few things...
The problem, as I see it, is that there isn't the political will to make the serious changes we need to in order to stave this off.
Stave what off, you ask?
It's the point—an increase of 1.5 degrees C or 2.7 degrees F—at which the things that we take for granted, like arctic ice and even the ability to live anywhere near the equator, disappear. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just issued a report on this that is, well, terrifying.
The report is written by 91 authors and 40 review editors, and it features 133 contributing authors, 6,000 scientific references, and was subject to over 42,000 expert and government review comments before publication.
Members of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meet in South Korea in October 2018.
Photo: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images
If we don't reverse the current trends in a huge way, then extreme drought, floods, wildfires, food shortages for millions of people across the globe will be the norm for everybody. Well, except, perhaps, for those living at one of the poles.
"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.
The report tells us we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and net zero—that is, NO increase in greenhouse gas emissions—by 2050.
If we don't? All of what's in the paragraph above, as well as:
- Coral reefs? Gone.
- Extreme weather events? So commonplace, we'll forget what it used to be like. (Hellooooo, Michael.)
- A rise in sea levels of anywhere between 33 to hundreds of feet.
- The seemingly impossible prospect of humans and other creatures being unable to live anywhere near the equator, because the extreme heat will not be able to support life. (Well, except for those creatures who have adapted to do just that)
Reduction in Arctic Ice, 1980-2018
Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center/BBC
We're two-thirds of the way there now, and in 12 years, that is the tipping point at which we cannot affect anything anymore. In other words, that's when it goes beyond a 1.5 degree increase in global average temperatures and the "feedback loop" that is the Earth will deteriorate to a point where we will have no way to stop the process.
In fact, with the course we are currently on, it's going to be double that temperature; we've already seen an increase of 1 degree since pre-industrialization, and there's really nothing slowing it down.
"The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal," stated Andrew King, a climate science expert at the University of Melbourne.
Reduction in Arctic Sea Ice, since 1980
Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center/BBC
The last time I researched this, 2050 was the year that they pegged. Moving that up by 20 years—effectively, the same as moving the atomic scientists' Doomsday Clock ahead by two minutes—makes it seem all that more pressing.
But given the political climate of the world right now, it looks extremely unlikely that we'll do anything about it.
So is it time to invest in beachfront property in Antarctica?
Since 99% of us can't do that, here are some ideas on what you can do, from the UN report.
The report says there must be rapid and significant changes in four big global systems: Energy, land use, cities, and industry. But it adds that the world cannot meet its target without changes by individuals, urging people to:
- Buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced, seasonal food—and throw less of it away
- Drive electric cars, but walk or cycle short distances
- Take trains and buses instead of planes
- Use videoconferencing instead of business travel
- Use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
- Thoroughly insulate homes
- Demand low carbon in every consumer product.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs discusses how the megarich can help millions of children by donating 1 percent of their wealth.
- In 2006 there were about 700 billionaires with a total net worth of about $3 trillion. Today there are 2,208 billionaires with a total net worth of $9.1 trillion. A tiny fraction of that wealth could keep millions of kids alive and in school.
- Jeffrey Sachs, who argues that the world economy isn't "exactly fair," proposes the ultra rich give 1 percent of their collective wealth — about $100 billion — to help meet everyone's basic needs. "What I know — as an economist that has worked all over the world, including in the poorest places in the world— [is that] little bits can save lives and make futures for the children of this world..."
- If plutocrats don't give voluntarily, Sachs recommends putting an SDG levy, a Sustainable Development Goals levy, on 1 percent of their collective wealth. "We're going to get this job done. We're going to get every child healthcare. We're going to get every child into school."