How to Be a Climate Conservative
1. Acknowledge Our Stewardship Responsibility
Stewardship is a fundamental conservative idea that comes through clearly in the writings of history’s most pre-eminent conservative minds. It is an idea that is firmly rooted in Biblical teachings, and in many respects, is the glue that holds the other tenets of conservatism together.
A climate conservative accepts environmental stewardship—including the stewardship of our atmosphere—as a conservative value and, as President Reagan declared, “our great moral responsibility.”
2. Honestly Examine the Science
Much of the polarization around the issue of climate change stems from people cherry-picking scientific information (or misinformation) simply to support their personal preconceived views. While that may be a handy debate tactic, it is not the honest search for truth that conservatism and prudent decision-making demands.
A climate conservative will respect the research and expertise of the world’s top climate scientists, and take the time necessary to review evidence of the problem and fully understand mankind’s role -- just as President Reagan did when he decided to address the problem of ozone depletion.
A great starting point is to listen to the presentation that conservative Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe gave to Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP).
3. Think for Yourself
Our radio and television airwaves are populated by opinionated talk show hosts and political pundits who are eager to enlarge their audiences by peddling provocative ideas. These commentators, even those you tend to agree with, are not infallible or all knowing. In fact, one should be skeptical of their rhetoric because they are paid to entertain and be provocative.
While great conservatives like Theodore Roosevelt, Russell Kirk and President Reagan embraced conservation and environmental stewardship, many self-proclaimed “conservatives” have abandoned these values and will reflexively oppose any policy that limits pollution or ensures wise stewardship of natural resources.
A climate conservative formulates his or her views about climate change though an unbiased examination of the facts and a commitment to responsible stewardship.
4. Don’t Let Al Gore Get in the Way
When it comes to the climate change issue, Al Gore is the 500- pound donkey in the room. Many conservatives are skeptically inclined towards climate change simply because Gore has made it his pet issue. Conservatives should not give Gore that kind of power over their thinking.
If Gore decides to champion the cleanup of a river that is clearly polluted, that fact does not make the river any more or less polluted, nor does it have any bearing on the merit of cleaning the river up.
The same is true with climate change. Just because Gore wants to make something his own (he also once claimed to have invented the Internet) is no reason to cede it to him.
A climate conservative realizes that Al Gore’s opinions on climate change are irrelevant and have no impact, positive or negative, on how he or she approaches the issue.
5. Consider All of the Reasons to Act
Since the U.S. sits atop only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, our nation’s heavy dependence on oil is a strategic vulnerability that enriches other nations, indirectly supports terrorism activities, makes us more susceptible to energy price spikes, and worsens our trade imbalance. Our nation needs to diversify its energy sources and lead the world in manufacturing new energy and pollution control technologies.
A climate conservative will recognize that reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and shifting away from dependence on fossil fuels has many benefits to our nation beyond keeping our atmospheric chemistry in balance, and that there are very important economic and national security reasons to do so.
As demand for energy grows worldwide, there will be an expanding market for technologies that deliver clean and secure energy. A climate conservative wants the U.S., not China, India, or Europe, to be the leading producer and exporter of advanced energy technologies.
6. Support Meaningful Solutions
In order to significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gas pollutants, such as the carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, it is necessary to discourage emissions by attaching a cost to that pollution. This will make cleaner sources of energy, such as wind, solar and nuclear more cost-effective, spur innovation, and ensure that we obtain more value from money spent on energy by using energy more efficiently.
While liberals tend to favor complex, overly prescriptive solutions, some who claim to be conservative are content to dismiss any policy that increases the cost of pollution as a tax.
A climate conservative understands that acting now to address climate change will be less costly than waiting until the problem worsens and will support balanced policies that set aggressive pollution reduction goals, but strive to be simple, market-friendly, and revenue neutral.
Waste is not a conservative value. Wasting energy that comes from finite fossil fuels not only harms our atmosphere; it harms our nation’s national and economic security.
A climate conservative will strive to make person decisions about energy use that minimize waste and strive for maximum efficiency.