Conservatives Can Embrace Environmentalism-- It's Not Too Late

As President Ronald Reagan once said, “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.”

Not so long ago, conservatives championed environmental issues. From Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation to Richard Nixon’s Environmental Protection Agency, at one time the Republican Party valiantly fought to protect and conserve America the beautiful.

However, as environmentalism became more hot-button, the left, as is their tendency, veered into extremism. To push an agenda of big government policies, they began conjuring up suspicious studies backed by big money - which then conveniently supplied the data they needed and wanted to make their policy points and enact an abundance of new regulations. As noted by National Review’s Henry Payne, the scientific community is funded largely in part by federal grants and left-of-center groups. It seems palpable that when there is monetary incentive coupled with pressure to produce specific results, the integrity of those results may reasonably be challenged. Such is evidently not the case.

Daring to question the validity of these shady studies was, apparently, to live in opposition of science itself. When outside sources requested verification, or even independent examinations free from the support of special interest groups, they were methodically thrown under the bus. In the blink of an eye, an effort to discredit any and every prominent specialist who would not concede to the pre-determined outcomes began. These professionals missed opportunities to fund research projects and advance their own careers for a refusal to shill out their reviews at the establishment’s request.  Committing the high crime of rejecting their works' exploitation resulted in experts such as Dr. Wei-Hock Soon, Richard Lindzen, and Roger Pielke Jr. being heavily criticized by peers and criminalized by the media. The term “science deniers” quickly caught on.

For fear of being mislabeled and ridiculed further, conservative leaders abandoned environmentalism, but the radical democratic narrative continued and became more and more outlandish. As progressives cried out about how global warming (later changed to climate change) would inevitably lead to an apocalypse, conservatives turned away entirely. Republican silence emboldened the Democrats, and soon the GOP not only “denied” science, but also vehemently “hated” the environment. A Republican hesitancy to set the record straight almost irrevocably pushed them away from having a voice at all.

The good news is that it is not too late for them to reclaim the narrative.

“I’m against pollution and think we should minimize pollution, whether or not the models are correct.” – Rand Paul

With a population that has been force-fed a fiction that Republicans hate the earth, the GOP is given two ways forward, one of which is sure to be more effective than the other. To the sentiment of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s words, the right can waste time disputing the accuracy of climate studies or they can advocate for what they do believe in: capitalism.

No government program, no leftist politician, and no economic system can do more to promote good stewardship of the earth than the free-market does and continues to do.

Consider the flash drive - a simple enough invention which allows users to store data such as spreadsheets, word documents, and photographs and carry them around in their pockets, accessible from any device with a USB port. Brought to you by capitalism, the flash drive has saved an immeasurable number of paper sheets and trees. More examples include rechargeable batteries, biodegradable silverware, and the Seabin - a bucket designed by two Australian surfers which acts similarly to a fish tank filter, sucking garbage, oil, and waste from ocean waters.

Inventions such as these perfectly exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit conservatives hold dear to their heart: individuals seeing a need for a good or service and stepping in to provide it without force of government. The conservative focus on free market capitalism clears the way for an easy embrace of green-entrepreneurship-- an approach that does not play into the fear-mongering tactics of the left, but offers real solutions and empowers small business owners and inventors.

It’s time the right returns to this topic of national discourse with a new energy. They can do so by advocating for free market capitalism and telling government to get out of the way.

Danielle Butcher