Nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will has devoted his most recent column to the new NAS report, Sustainability Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism. This may mark the first time that Will and Stanley Fish have come to the same conclusion—that the NAS study offers an important critique of the sustainability movement’s rise on college campuses. Will writes, “Sustainability, as a doctrine of total social explanation, transforms all ills and grievances into environmental causes, cloaked in convenient science.” Remarking on the NAS report’s title, Will writes,
The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:
Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.
Will also discusses the push to transform all courses into sustainability courses, the financial folly of the fossil-fuel divestment movement, the shuttering of debate on climate science, and the sprawling of environmentalism to encompass all social grievances. “Some subscribers to the sustainability catechism are sincerely puzzled by the accusation that it is political correctness repackaged,” Will acknowledges. But,
They see it as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand this — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.