Contemplating a Conservative Response to Climate Change

Wanted to bring attention to a new blog, The Climate Conservative, the brainchild of David Jenkins and Rob Sisson, over at ConservAmerica.  I’ve long believed the topic of anthropogenic climate change (AGW) is an emerging issue that warrants thoughtful debate and discussion, but have witnessed the serious erosion of credibility by both the political left and right who have used the controversy to obfuscate and advance their own political agendas.  Trying to “scare” the public into action hasn’t worked and won’t work by those who continue to play fast and loose with scientific facts and uncertainty.  And the strategy of denial, relegating AGW to nothing more than a mere hoax, does nothing to advance the interests of wise stewardship if, in fact, humans are influencing the climate.

The website describes itself as,

Dedicated to looking at the issue of climate change through the lens of genuine traditionalist conservatism. This is the original conservatism–articulated by the likes of Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver and T.S. Eliot–that promotes time-tested virtues such as prudence, humility, reverence, duty, compassion and stewardship.

Too often the media mistakenly labels the position of those on the political right who reject the scientific evidence of climate change and its underlying causes as “conservative,” when the reality is that there is nothing remotely conservative about it.

A truly conservative approach is to honestly seek the truth and act based on the best evidence available.

That is exactly what President Reagan did when he was presented with mounting scientific concern about ozone depletion. He listened to all sides, weighed the evidence, and took prudent action to safeguard our atmosphere–pushing through a strong international treaty to begin phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals.

Today, thanks to President Reagan’s conservative approach, our ozone layer is healing. And that 1987 Montreal Protocol Treaty is widely regarded as the most successful environmental treaty of all time.

The climate debate exemplifies how many on the political right have veered dangerously away from traditional conservatism. Too many are allowing themselves to be influenced by a right wing media that is dominated by libertarian ideologues and a ratings-driven desire to inflame partisan passion.  It seems preposterous that a thoughtful conservative could actually allow the climate skepticism of a radio talk show host to trump the serious, non-partisan, research of the world’s foremost climate experts.

Reagan once said “facts are stubborn things.” Real conservatives will rely on both facts and principles to inform their opinion, while partisan ideologues–on the left and the right–tend to reject or ignore any fact that fails to comport with their preconceived notions and biases.

Burke, the father of modern conservatism, regarded prudence as “first in rank of the virtues political and moral.” It is no more prudent to ignore the extensive research and conclusions of climate scientists than it is to ignore the diagnosis of your doctor. You might get a second opinion, or even a third, but you ultimately act on the best information available.

Another key requirement of traditionalist conservatism is stewardship. Responsible stewardship, whether fiscal or environmental, reflects the conservative notion that we have a moral duty to safeguard–not squander–the inheritance of future generations, As Reagan said when speaking about the environment: “This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”

Hopefully, this site will encourage everyone who visits it–especially fellow conservatives–to examine the climate change issue prudently, without bias, and with a commitment to responsible stewardship.

I wish Rob and David and their colleagues all the best in helping to sort through fact from fiction and offering a more thoughtful conservative perspective on a very complicated scientific topic for which politics has hi-jacked and careened out of control.

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