From Charles Krauthammer:
As Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus once explained, environmentalism is the successor to failed socialism as justification for all-pervasive rule by a politburo of experts. Only now, it acts in the name of not the proletariat but the planet.
That has nothing to do with the environment, of course, but it’s a reason to be wary.
George Will goes so far as to argue that President Obama’s environmental initiatives, heralded in his Second Inaugural Address, will lead to a conservative revival:
He says that “the threat of climate change” is apparent in “raging fires,” “crippling drought” and “more powerful storms.” Are fires raging now more than ever? (There were a third fewer U.S. wildfires in 2012 than in 2006.) Are the number and severity of fires determined by climate change rather than forestry and land-use practices? Is today’s drought worse than, say, that of the Dust Bowl, and was it caused by 1930s global warming? As for “more powerful storms”:
Because Sandy struck New York City, where the nation’s media congregate and participate in the city’s provincialism, this storm was declared more cosmically momentous than the 74 other hurricanes that have hit or come near the city since 1800. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was called a consequence of global warming and hence a harbinger of increasing numbers of Category 3 or higher hurricanes. Since then, major hurricane activity has plummeted. No Category 3 storm has hit the United States since 2005. Sandy was just a Category 1.
Obama’s vow to adjust Earth’s thermostat followed the report that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous 48 states. But the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins, who has concisely posed the actual climate policy choice (“How much should we spend on climate change in order to have no effect on climate change?”), has noted that although 2012 was 2.13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2011, “2008, in the contiguous U.S., was two degrees cooler than 2006.” And “2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all cooler than 1998 by a larger margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998.” Such is the rigor of many who preen as devotees of science that they declared the 2012 temperatures in the contiguous states (1.58 percent of the Earth’s surface) proof of catastrophic global warming.
A flourishing American economic sector is fossil fuels — especially oil and natural gas — which the Obama administration seems to regret and often impedes (see: fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline). Yet the natural gas boom is one of the main reasons why, in 2012, U.S. fossil-fuel emissions were the lowest since 1992. Obama’s wariness about the pipeline suggests that he subscribes to some environmentalists’ stupendously weird theory: If the pipeline is not built to carry oil from the (supposedly dangerous) development of Canadian tar sands, Canada will leave those sands undeveloped rather than sell the oil to China.
I’m willing to conceded that there are legitimate environmental issues. Conservatives have a tradition of wanting to “conserve” nature, as with other elements of our heritage, and so to be “conservationists.” A good example is Tolkien’s portrayal of Saruman as mad-scientist industrialist, destroying the forests and blighting Middle Earth so as to manufacture Orcs.
I also recall when I was a child the horrible stench of the oil refineries in Oklahoma and appreciate its absence (for the most part) due to clean air initiatives.
How would you explain the difference between a “conservationist” and a “environmentalist”?
Traditionally, conservatives of the Burkean sort would restrain the free market when necessary to protect culture and traditional values. Today, many who consider themselves conservative embrace the free market as the solution to virtually all social problems.
Are there free market approaches to protecting the environment, or is the free market inherently destructive to natural resources, thus requiring statist solutions? What are some non-statist solutions?