21 Mar

A conservative view toward climate change leadership

Jonathan Adler of Case Western recently argued that climate change can be a conservative cause (I would highly agree. For moderates like myself I find that adding conservative arguments to the case to be necessary, the recent abandonment of environmental stewardship by the far right is a failure of imagination and leadership. To be a good two party system you need solutions from both sides, not one side abdicating). Here’s an interesting interview with him in The Atlantic:

“BP: Okay, what about climate change? This is arguably the biggest environmental problem of all and so far most conservatives have tried not to talk about it at all. 

JA: I’ve done work on this before arguing that if you take property rights seriously, then climate change is a problem even if you don’t believe in the apocalyptic climate-change scenarios.

Even most skeptics believe, for instance, that there will be some degree of sea-level rise — they might not think it’s catastrophic, but they’ll concede it exists. And over hundreds of years of common-law tradition, we’ve recognized that flooding a neighbor’s land is a property right’s violation.

So if there’s a conservative commitment to property rights, you can’t ignore that by talking about Al Gore or saying that it’s inefficient or too costly to deal with it. Folks on the right didn’t say it was wrong to take Kelo’s land because it was inefficient. It was wrong because it was her land!”

(Via Yes, conservatives can be environmentalists. Here’s how..)

His focus on carbon taxes lines up very strongly with my belief that we need to stop focusing on asking people to change their behavior, or even legislating change, but simply just charging the fuck out of stupid behavior.

I grew up in a water-poor environ. Whenever I talk to people worried about water scarcity, I always ask them what the price per gallon of water they think it would take for civilization to collapse or feature severe shocks, and it’s always less than the per gallon rate I grew up paying on the island of St. Thomas, where water has to be made at a plant using reverse osmosis.

Stunningly, when you pay a lot per gallon, your entire approach to water changes because using it stupidly is *money out of your pocket.*

Adler also makes cogent points about the fact that Cap and Trade, a market-oriented solution, set up under Bush the first, was effective against acid rain. It’s just that the party of ‘no’ that has evolved today makes repeating such a victory dead on arrival because it has now been adopted by democrats.