A naive young Republican says the GOP can win the climate debate
Writing under the pseudonym Eric Brandenson, a young Republican Capitol Hill staffer ARGUES HERE that his party’s lawmakers can take the climate issue away from the Democrats:
Someone in the GOP needs to say it: conservation is conservative; climate change is real; and conservatives need to lead on solutions because we have better answers than the other side.
From traditionalists like Russell Kirk to progressive conservatives (far from an oxymoron) like Theodore Roosevelt, to movement conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, conservatives have long fought to protect the natural rights and property rights of individuals, living and unborn, from infringement by environmental degradation and pollution.
So why are so many Republicans in Congress taking a weed eater to what would naturally grow from the rich soil of conservatism?
Democrats have owned the climate change conversation for years, for the worse. The issue is perceived as “liberal” because only Democrats really discuss it. The left grabs the headlines with protests, civil disobedience, coordinated big-money campaigns, and sensationalist claims that the sky is falling. The left has been so successful at commanding the debate with talk of government mandates, reckless spending, and picking winners and losers that it has actually worsened the intransigence of conservatives on the issue.
The center-right has, quite frankly, buried its head in the sand for fear of being associated with those proposals to tax, spend, regulate, and distort. I’ve seen it first hand. Many Republicans see no room for consensus and feel backed into a corner. The “safe” position is to question the science, especially the left’s most alarming and often tenuous assertions. But justifying inaction because the science isn’t “settled” is like saying we shouldn’t take on Social Security reform because we don’t know whether it will go bankrupt in 2030 or 2035.
Republicans don’t have to choose between conceding to the left and denying the science. There are genuine pro-growth solutions that align with conservative values. Republicans can admit that 97 percent of scientists just might be right without having to embrace Democratic ideas that would grow government.
If we just come to the table, Republicans can lead on climate change and the American people will be with us.
But Eric Brandenson (or whatever his name is) ignores the fact that the political fight over climate change is one of culture versus science.
As I said in a post of about six months ago, it occurs to me that both sides in the debate over global warming have one thing in common: Hardly anybody really wants it to be true that climate-change trends pose a a significant threat to our way of life.
But global-warming deniers want it to be untrue for reasons that are fundamentally different from mine, at least in one respect: They don’t just want to avoid the havoc of environmental catastrophe. Rather, they find us exponents of mainstream scientific theories on climate change repugnant, and they want us to be disgraced. They have a visceral dislike for the pointy-headed academic types and political liberals who warn of the consequences of not curbing our spewing of greenhouses into the atmosphere. They simply refuse to believe that people like us might be right about this stuff.
A concomitant of this cultural/political disdain is a distrust of science in general. It’s no mere coincidence that there’s an overlap of global-warming skeptics and evolution deniers.
Take, for example, Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the leading global-warming denier in all of Congress. Unable to base his arguments on valid scientific evidence, Inhofe turns to the Old Testament and finds that it not only supports theories of creationism but also debunks global-warming theories.
Inhofe’s evidence in this regard is a passage from the Book of Genesis:
While the earth remaineth seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
“My point is,” says Inhofe, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we human beings would be able to change what he is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Obviously, then, any vindication of global-warming theories would exalt the godless scientists, the liberals, the enemies of all Inhofe stands for. It would make the biblical basis of his belief system the object of ridicule.
Of course, cultural antipathy toward global-warming believers also takes forms that differ in some regards from Inhofe’s religious approach. Some of it arises from the notion that environmentalism is a socialist scheme cooked up by Marxist professors and naively promoted by tree-huggers, grammar-school teachers and animal lovers. Even some religionists are buying into theories that life on our planet is threatened by climate change.
But no matter how you slice it, global-warming denialism is based for the most part on cultural considerations rather than science. It’s based on the fervent hope that the smart-alecs are wrong.