At the conclusion of the June 3-14, 1992, United Nations Conference on Environment & Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of 177 other nations signed a document known as Agenda 21. At the time, it was seen as a perfectly sensible planning paper, a nonbinding statement of intent aimed at dealing with sustainability on an increasingly crowded planet.
But in the 22 years since that day, at the hands of groups like the John Birch Society, Agenda 21 has been transformed in much of the American public mind into a secret plot to impose a totalitarian world government, a nefarious effort to crush freedom in the name of environmentalism. And it isn’t only extremists pushing this conspiracy theory — in January 2012, the Republican National Committee bought into the propaganda, denouncing Agenda 21 in a resolution as a “destructive and insidious scheme” that is meant to impose a “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth.”
The demonization of Agenda 21 began among extremist groups like the John Birch Society, the same outfit that was effectively ejected from the conservative movement after accusing President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a communist agent. The Birch Society and an array of other radical-right groups see Agenda 21 and virtually all other global efforts as part of a nefarious plan on the part of global elites to form a socialistic one-world government, or “New World Order.”