Summer is just around the corner. Kids are out of school in most places, and temperatures are already rising. This is to continue as meteorologists are saying that 2016 is set to be the hottest summer on record. We conservatives know what that means: it’s time to talk about climate change! Indeed, there are perhaps few issues for which conservatives are villainized more than that of climate change. Unfortunately for virtue-signalling liberals (those who hold a particular view to show much better they are than those who do not) this accusation simply does not hold.
For true conservatives, conservation and care for the environment is philosophically compatible with what we already believe. We are naturally interested in preserving our local community, and leaving something behind for the generations to come. This goes hand-in hand with environmentalism’s goal of preserving the planet and our natural resources.
The Pacific Research Institute, a conservative policy think-tank on the west coast, recently published research on how the language that frames the debate is often the source of conflict rather than the issue itself. Eco-psychologist Christopher Wolsko of Oregon State University found that “liberal moral values tend to focus on fairness, justice and concerns about whether individuals are being harmed or cared for.” Conversely, conservatives are more concerned with “binding moral values,” which include “in-group loyalty, respect for authority, and concerns about the purity and sanctity of human endeavors.” The key difference here is personal responsibility. Liberals emphasize reducing the carbon footprint of society, whereas conservatives emphasize reducing the environmental impact of the individual.
Liberals try saving the world in legislative efforts, such as carbon regulations and “cash for clunkers”. Unfortunately, these efforts, like many EPA initiatives, there are unintended consequences that harm the environment, the economy, and the average American. Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to alleviate environmental damage through an emphasis on property rights, conservation (the first national park were all dedicated by Republicans) and the imposition of consumption-based taxes rather than restrictive regulations.
This false divide has become clear as the remaining candidates are battling in the drought-stricken state of California, whose primary will take place on Tuesday, June 7. Last week, Trump and Sanders exchanged punches over California’s water crisis. It boiled down to Sanders claiming that the government should be doing more to prevent climate change and Trump claiming that he could “open the water” that the government was shipping out to sea. It is interesting that neither side pointed out that individual responsibility on a private level may come into play here. Then again, it’s not that strange considering that neither are actual conservatives.
As the weather warms up, and your liberal friends complain that the government doesn’t do enough about the climate, remind them that conservatism is well-equipped to conserve nature on its own terms, without the government’s help.