Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

A Political Conservative With A Cause

IMG_2929Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis from South Carolina recently made a stop in the state of Utah in his effort to convince his fellow Republicans about the urgency of climate change. I heard him speak at BYU to the College Republicans. It was a most unusual and inspiring experience.

Inglis described his transition from a climate skeptic to a position of genuine concern once he was in office and had an opportunity to investigate many of the facts directly. Coming from a district as red as Utah Valley and from a political persuasion as genuinely conservative as most Republicans in Utah, he described how his green positions eventually got him bumped out of office by the Tea Party. I have read about the damage done by think tanks in spreading misinformation about climate change and how that information is repeated over and over again by politicians (for example, check this out), but I have usually heard this information from Democrats or academics, but not necessarily from conservatives. He was as frank and insistent as anyone I have heard about the damage being done in this country by Big Oil’s funding of think tanks and the Koch Brothers and was embarrassed that the Republicans have wasted so much time believing in their missives. He was particularly adamant that Republicans had essentially evaded the problem altogether by claiming conspiracies or by denying the evidence and had allowed Democrats to be the only ones to put potential solutions on the table. At one point he offered an interesting psychoanalysis of Republican denial of climate change. He said that Republicans on the one hand feel a strong Christian mandate to be good stewards of the environment but on the other hand can’t see their way to solving the problem using the methods proposed by the Democrats, so in their inaction, they feel anger that eventually just lashes out as denial of the problem. A provocative theory. I wonder what our readers think of this. Is there an environmental conscience within each of us? Do religious conservatives need to see viable economic solutions that suit their political philosophy before they are willing to believe climate change is a real problem? Why isn’t empirical evidence enough?

Inglis made it clear that he is not a fan of most Democratic policy on the environment. He doesn’t like cap and trade and other Democratic solutions and instead believes that a free market was the solution. However, he stressed that it had to be a truly free market, one in which companies produced products with no unfair advantages over any other and in which they took what he called “biblical accountability” for all their costs downwind and downstream that were incurred by others in the process. Capitalism historically has, he noted, privatized profit while socializing costs, essentially passing on the true costs of production to neighbors and future generations in the form of decreased public and environmental health. I thought his term “biblical accountability” quite compelling, something I would like to hear more of when I hear defenses of the market, for surely without a profound ethos of care, a free market is an excuse for exploitation. (A side note: he wondered out loud to me if Mormon environmentalists were ostracized by their fellow believers. He felt he had been by his own Christian community. I told him I never had felt ostracized.) He was particularly interested in a tax swap whereby carbon could be taxed and other taxes relieved, essentially so that a carbon tax could serve its purpose of reducing carbon emissions without growing the government. You can learn more about this at his company’s website. In the end, his worry was that the Republicans will not make themselves a viable or sustainable party of the future if they don’t make the environment a serious consideration in their platform.

I don’t share this information because I necessarily agree with his positions, but because of his compelling claim that conservatives need to get in the game of addressing climate change and the environment and to take science more seriously. He suggested that they simply have not yet entered the marketplace of ideas when it comes to the environment and that their attitude needs to be one of offering solutions rather than one of denying the reality of environmental problems. I personally welcome a conservative environmentalism as a very important and needed development. The best ideas and the best solutions can only emerge in a context of real dialogue, honest deliberation, and earnest concern for all of society and for future generations. I hope conservatives will take his message to heart and consider what they can offer to find solutions to the problems of climate change, species extinction, and our environmental degradation of watersheds, air quality, and the livelihoods of the most poor.


  • Agent P says:

    If the AGW alarmists were not allowed to profit from their interests in the peddling and pushing of their theory and ideology, then the AGW argument might have some weight.

    Personally, I can’t get past the fact that the Sun is currently on fire. It is like a huge candle in the sky… very mysterious…LOL! The obvious facts are always ignored and/or overlooked by the AGW crowd. This part with the anti-American sentiment from these people makes their argument patently idiotic.

    Here are the important pieces of the puzzle to me which are nearly always ignored by the AGW profiteers, alarmists and idiots:

    1. The fact that our planet went through multiple super-cooling and heating cycles which pre-dated the internal combustion engine makes them “Ice-Age deniers.” Yes, I coined that term…should have it trademarked 🙂

    2. The Sun is on fire and has major fluctuations which can have such an impact on our planet, they make little man and his CO2 look infinitesimally puny.
    3. Earth has experienced many mass extinctions which can be attributed to climate change.
    4. Little man has been around for 10,000 to 10,000,000 years depending on who you trust but has only been “ruining” planet Earth for 10 minutes or so. Add to this the fact that we have only kept RECORDS on temperature, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc., for like 10 seconds on this scale. I am no statistician, but I took a class on it and remember something about “statistically insignificant” samples of data, like what is being used by the AGW clowns.
    5. Americans are concerned and are taking action to improve the environment and have been on this since I was attending government schools in the 1970’s. Indeed, the greatest country in the world has been a leader in the “Save the Planet” scam and movement. Despite our efforts, we are still the center of the attack and folks are still running around feeling bad about the evil free people of the world killing the planet. Great! Problem here for me in the FACT that the communists in China and Russia have nothing like our Federal regulations on their own industries and freely dump pollutants into the oceans and air.

    I have much more to say in my critique of the AGW crowd, but I have to go get in my truck and stomp on the gas all day just so I can do my part as a conservative. There is money to make out there and taxes to earn so my fellow Americans can confiscate it for the betterment of society.

    Agent P

    • Atlas says:

      Until we have the entire country educated about the facts of climate warming then we will continue on blogs to have comments such as these. Flat earth is obvious, too and just as wrong to those who have a basis in science. But to dispute silly notions about Reality to the ideologically committed, is a waste of time. Educate the whole culture so that it becomes part of our heritage like typing or basic algebra. The realities of anthropogenic caused climate warming, at least in its 95%+ likelihood will not be accepted until it is made a cultural conversation and education.