Why Conservatives Can No Longer Ignore Climate Issues

|| by Will Galloway ||

Columbia – Americans have been blessed with a beautiful and resource rich nation. From the glaciers of Alaska to the tropical paradise of Hawaii to the swamps, bayous, and forests of the south, the other worldly majesty of Yellowstone, the rich farmland of the midwest, the rolling hills of New England and the mountain ranges and rivers that criss-cross the country, we have a plentiful and breathtaking homeland. And yet Republicans, especially conservative republicans, have allowed the protection and preservation of this homeland to be an exclusively liberal concept.

 
The public debate on this issue has been hijacked by two extremes: those who hold that there is no environmental or climate change whatsoever, and those who argue that man-made climate change has brought about an impending armageddon. Both these views are untenable: the climate has been changing at some rate or another since the beginning of time. On the other hand, human-caused greenhouse gas emissions constitute only about six percent of all greenhouse gas emissions annually. 
 
Alex Chalgren is a young conservative (you may know him from his video-submitted questions during the first GOP presidential debate last year) who is a climate activist. He phrased the conservative vantage point on this issue quite nicely:
 
“I think the greatest misconception for fellow conservatives regarding environmentalism is that it is a leftist political statement that hinders job creation and businesses. This is greatly simplified. In fact my work with the Citizen’s Climate Lobby – a conservative environmental group – sets a clear plan on how to be pro-environmental while lowering the average taxes and creating more jobs. At the end of the day, the danger is that as the earth warms, species die and ecosystems will continue to deteriorate and time will run out. Future generations will be saying, ‘why didn’t you stop it when you could have?'”
 
Mr. Chalgren is absolutely correct. It is imperative that those of us in the conservative movement begin to address these issues, and do so in a market-driven way that supports energy independence and promotes American jobs.  In an effort to shed light on how this can be done, I had a conversation with Tom Mullikin. Mr. Mullikin is an environmental expert and the managing partner of The Mullikin Firm, a leading environmental law firm out of Camden, South Carolina.  Mullikin, who is also a military officer, has served as a National Geographic Expert having traveled to many of the world’s most-remote environs while researching some of the Earth’s most-fragile ecosystems, easily surpasses the Dos Equis man as the most interesting man in the world.  He says that conservatives have the factual high ground on the issue, but that we often fail to frame the debate in a way that shows this.  
 
“Proposed solutions like the Kyoto Protocol which defined the debate for decades only served to increase global emissions.  It specifically exempted more than half of the world emissions today from countries like China, India and Brazil,” Mullikin explained. “China is now the global leader of emissions as well as other listed pollutants.  Proposed solutions like the Kyoto Protocol exacerbated challenges to our environment.  A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Chinese pollution blown across the ocean measures up to 24 percent of sulfate concentrations in the western United States.”   These failed policies have resulted in “the United States losing millions of jobs to China and the U.S. getting their pollution in return – the worst case scenario for the United States and the global environment.”
 
“At a 30,000 foot level, global environmental issues may be complicated. But in a community, environmental issues are health issues, and we can not fail to address those concerns,” Mr. Mullikin says. “All these issues go back to the protection of health. We have to stop saying things that are factually inaccurate and talk about what matters to local communities. This is not an esoteric political conversation. We’re losing ground because we don’t talk about what people see right in front of them.”
 
(If this particular topic interests you, check out Mr. Mullikin’s 2015 article in the Canada Free Press)
 
He also emphasized the importance of all kinds of domestic energy: oil, natural gas, hydraulic, wind, solar, etc. These all need to be incorporated into a cohesive plan for energy independence. They can all be done safely and sustainably, and can be implemented through free market based initiatives.
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