Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Vox contributor David Roberts, a right wing army of people in the media always stands ready to kill off the green shoots of Conservative climate action.
Don’t bother waiting for conservatives to come around on climate change
A new report examines the climate right. It doesn’t find much.
The left has an army of people in universities, think tanks, and consultancies, examining public opinion using all the latest tools, producing the most sophisticated reports. The basic model of savvy “realism” on the center left is to study the shape of public opinion, with all its subcategories, and react to it.
Meanwhile, the right has an army of people on cable news, the radio, and Facebook dedicated to shaping public opinion, stoking it, dragging it rightward. Not investigating it, not charting it, not reacting to it — creating it.
The left’s technocrats are targeting values-based messages at New Era Enterprisers while the right is out building full-fledged identities, letting conservatives know what they’re supposed to think.
Imagine, if you will, that “innovation” really started taking off and becoming the basis for bipartisan climate policy. Or imagine that New Era Enterprisers really started coalescing around climate action. Imagine that earnest conservative advocacy groups succeeded in generating some small movement, among some part of the GOP, toward some kind of climate action.
If Fox didn’t like it — and Fox wouldn’t, because Fox is still funded by the big-money conservatives whose interests are bound up with fossil fuels — Fox would kill it. Immediately. End of story. Sad trumpet.
And it wouldn’t be hard. All they would have to do is make up some scary story about how it, whatever “it” is, is socialism, or some variety of Other, and then repeat that story, over and over, for a week or two. Voila: conservatives would turn against … whatever it is. The green shoots would be crushed.
This can be simplified even further, since that trait is highly correlated with sensitivity to fear. The more sensitive someone is to negative or threatening stimuli — even, experiments have found, negative stimuli flashed by too fast for the conscious mind to register — the more likely that person is to prize order, tidiness, predictability, and routine. In other words, the more sensitive someone is to fear, the less open they are to new experiences, the more they dislike change, and the more likely they are to be a conservative. (Ezra Klein rounds up some of the growing evidence for this thesis in this post.)
…Read more: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/4/26/18512213/climate-change-republicans-conservatives
David cites a recent think tank study into why Conservatives reject climate action. Interestingly the study David cites hilights the damage combining socialism with green activism has done to wider acceptance of climate action.
Prospects for Climate Change Policy Reform
A Landscape Study of the Conservative Environmental Movement
Climate policy in the United States is in a time of great uncertainty. The Trump administration has moved to roll back much of the policy momentum the sector had experienced in previous administrations. After a number of years of climate policy being a relatively low priority for voters, its salience is rising on the left as progressives move toward a strategy of yoking climate to a larger set of progressive priorities in the form of the Green New Deal. However, as this report explains, such a broad and multi-issue message is less effective with conservatives and may also polarize opinion on some aspects of climate response where bipartisan support had existed. The narrower messages focused on innovation and energy reforms which reach many conservatives, on the other hand, may become less acceptable on the left if they are seen as an alternative to or negation of some of the economic and social policy ideas in the Green New Deal.Read more: https://www.newamerica.org/political-reform/reports/prospects-climate-change-policy-reform/
There is no evidence Conservatives are inherently hostile towards climate action.
Perhaps David Roberts forgets there was a time when Conservatives were strongly in favour of climate action. Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, who stood with President Ronald Reagan during the final years of the Cold War, was a strong supporter of climate action.
What happened to turn Conservatives against climate action? The Ecologist magazine provides a surprisingly thoughtful answer to this question.
her [Thatcher’s] autobiography states: “By the end of my time as Prime Minister I was also becoming seriously concerned about the anti-capitalist arguments which the campaigners against global warming were deploying.
“So in a speech to scientists in 1990 I observed: whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable all our economies to grow and develop because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment.”Read more: https://theecologist.org/2018/oct/17/who-drove-thatchers-climate-change-u-turn
Thirty years after James Hansen announced his climate emergency in Congress, nothing unusually bad has happened to the global climate. But as genuine scientific evidence of the need for climate action faded, the Left and their academic enablers increasingly embraced the climate cause as a political trojan horse to overturn Capitalism.
David fails to question the “army of people in universities”. How did universities become so polarised?
We have one example of how this might have happened – a university which recently compromised academic freedom to purge its ranks of someone who disputed the university’s cosy green consensus.
Fast forward to today, and it is completely obvious what the problem is.
Most of their friends in the green movement continue to reject obvious low socio-economic impact solutions like nuclear power in favour of promoting an extremist political agenda of green socialism, while forlornly spinning insulting theories about why Conservatives remain unconvinced by their openly political climate dogma and abuse of process.