Maurice Strong responds to erroneous, ideological attacks

Response to erroneous, ideological attacks

by Maurice Strong

Although I seldom respond to media criticisms which are for the most part ideologically based it is useful to put on record for those who may be interested, the facts which have been the subject of misinformation, misinterpretation and outright lying by my critics:

1. My comments that “Ballot-Box” democracy may need to be modified to enable governments to take the difficult decisions on longer term issues that affect their own national interests and the future of the entire human community. Although I did not fully elaborate this I have long advocated a much greater degree of citizen involvement in our processes of democratic governance beyond merely casting of ballots. In another words, I am for more, not less, democracy. At the same time, it is over simplistic and misleading to assert that there is a direct relationship between democracy and environmental performance. It ignores the fact that the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere which has brought us to the threshold of the current climate crisis has occurred primarily in democratic countries. Of course, this is not because of their democracy, but rather because these countries have led the world in economic growth of which the risks to climate were unintended consequences. I have argued strongly for the need to maintain the highest degree of diversity and variety in the governance of society while ensuring the broadest range of opportunities for individual self-expression and fulfillment. I am sure that any objective reading of my article in the World Policy Journal, and others, which can be accessed on my website, provides a better basis for evaluation of my views on these issues than is reflected in these articles.

2. China’s remarkable economic growth and the resulting increase in its greenhouse gas emissions as well as air and water pollution is much more recent and on a scale beyond anything experienced by any other countries. It follows the same pattern as those who first led the world in economic growth and its environmental consequences. Although China is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions the average Chinese produces only one-fifth as much carbon as the average American and the United States has generated more than 1.1 trillion tons cumulatively, while China has generated 300 billion tons. China is still at an early stage but already making significant progress. This is important for the entire world community which cannot achieve sustainability without China.

3. That I have been a life-long socialist. I have long contended that the principal goals of our economy should be to improve the lives the people and that responsible capitalism is the best means of producing the wealth required to meet society’s needs. Most of my own business career has been in the private sector and with some minor setbacks has been very rewarding, while seeking to set an example of social and environmental responsibility.

4. A particularly dishonest statement by long-time critic, Peter Foster, to his own editor, citing a fictional account which was clearly stated to be an extreme scenario of what might happen by the year 2030 if we failed to act. This specifically stated that it was not a prediction, and certainly not a recommendation, but the kind of prospect we must seek to avoid.

5. As to criticism of my role with China, I remain a Canadian resident and tax payer. I do spend much of my time in China these days as I believe that how China deals with the daunting challenges it faces will affect the future of all of us. It is in our common interest to be fair and objective in our criticism and helpful and understanding in our support. The Chinese are still at the early stages on the pathway to the sustainable, harmonious society, guided by science for the benefit of the people, to which their leaders aspire with a high degree of citizen involvement. It is in our interest as well as theirs that they succeed in this.