Entries Tagged as 'environmentalism'

An Environmental Nominee Conservatives Should Love

December 7th, 2011 at 12:00 am 24 Comments

Rebecca Wodder, President Obama’s nominee to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will be a topic of discussion in the business meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Thursday. And many Republicans on the committee are sure to raise tough questions about her.

Wodder, the former CEO of the environmental group American Rivers, holds a number of positions that conservatives largely disagree with. But if they actually believe that frequent (and true) conservative refrain that big government damages the environment, she deserves enthusiastic support from Republicans on the committee.

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Don’t Have Delusions About Green Jobs

David Frum September 15th, 2011 at 9:18 pm 25 Comments

The human mind has trouble envisioning change. The first automobiles were built as horseless carriages. We will send e-mail even as our children no longer remember what “the mail” ever was.

So likewise, when we imagine a world evolving beyond fossil fuels, we imagine a world of cars powered by hydrogen motors or electrical utilities operating wind farms instead of coal-fired generators.

And who knows: perhaps the future really will look like that.

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What Exactly is a “Green” Job? (Updated)

David Frum September 15th, 2011 at 11:43 am Updated45 Comments

Here’s a skill-testing hypothetical for you environmentalists out there.

Some future US government decides to impose a tax on oil to maintain the price above $125 a barrel.

Responding to this price signal, more Americans tell their real estate agents they want housing from which they can walk to work.

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Call These Scientists Crazy

August 19th, 2011 at 11:47 am 42 Comments

On August 18, a few days after Rick Perry went off on climate scientists as money-grubbing carbon cultists, Jon Huntsman had some craziness of his own to share.

“To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” the presidential candidate and former Utah governor Tweeted on Thursday afternoon.

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Businesses Demand More Regulation (Really!)

August 18th, 2011 at 5:35 pm 12 Comments

The prevailing narrative about regulation is that businesses want the Environmental Protection Agency to lighten up. So, why did five appliance manufacturers recently ask EPA to tighten rules involving air conditioners and ozone-depleting refrigerants?

Or, to put it another way, is the Obama administration undercutting Ronald Reagan’s signature environmental accomplishment through sloppy rule writing?

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Mark Hatfield: A True Green Republican

August 10th, 2011 at 8:27 am 5 Comments

Back in the 1980s, the biggest fighting words around environmental policy were not “climate change.” They were “wilderness preservation.”

Environmentalists wanted more, much more wilderness set aside. Extractive industries wanted little or, preferably, zero new wilderness. The bitterest wilderness battles were in the forests, mountains, and arid lands of Oregon.

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Why is There Opposition to Better Lightbulbs?

July 15th, 2011 at 4:02 pm 57 Comments

You don’t buy electricity for the sake of having electricity. You buy it for the services that electricity provides – hot showers, cold drinks, bright lights, and a home that shelters you from the swampy heat outside.

If you can obtain the same level of energy services with new technology that consumes less electricity than old technology, that’s a cause for cheer, not heartburn.

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An Environmental Stance Can Win the GOP Votes

July 7th, 2011 at 12:40 am 48 Comments

Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment recently released the result of polls suggesting that Republican candidates should reconsider pandering to the most ideologically locked-in Republican voters on climate change.

The numbers suggest there is no downside risk for GOP candidates who accept scientists’ conclusions about the impacts of fossil fuel emissions on climate and who support policies encouraging development of alternative energy resources. Their Republican support would largely hold. Indeed, they could gain, by wooing independents and ticket-splitting Democrats.

Republican candidates are, with a few exceptions, tending toward a groupthink of avoiding any hint that they’re willing to listen to climate scientists, or to support any policy that would cool down the rising heat.

Tim Pawlenty, for instance, has taken with gusto to climate change political correctness. T-Paw, trying a little too hard to be Tea Party, has thrown himself on the mercy of the climate-change-is-a-hoax crowd by disowning the mainstream energy and climate record that he compiled as Minnesota’s governor.

For Republican voters who admired Pawlenty’s past life as a pragmatist, it hurts to watch such unseemly displays of groveling.

Stanford’s numbers don’t seem to support the wisdom of such a strategy. In a national study that included interviews with 1,001 voters, respondents were read issue statements assigned to hypothetical Senate candidates.

One of the statements read to respondents randomly assigned to a “green” group was a “green” climate stance. A “not-green” group heard a “not-green” statement. In a third, control group, the hypothetical candidate said nothing about climate.

Among Republican respondents, the “green” statement resulted in a small decline in voter support for the candidate compared to the control group. However, the “not-green” statement resulted in a slightly greater decline. In both cases, green and not green, the candidate’s GOP support largely held.

Among Democrats and independents, the largest support went to the candidate with the “green” statement, as might be expected. The silent candidate was second, and the “not-green” candidate trailed badly.

Similar results were reported from similar surveys among voters in Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts.

Stanford’s researchers offered a few grains of salt. The survey did not focus on gathering the views of likely voters only, hypothetical candidates took positions on only a few issues, and voters were not questioned on how they would react if hypothetical candidates were attacked by opponents for their climate positions.

Still, the research offers a promising indicator that Republican candidates have some room for maneuver on climate change. Donning a straitjacket that forbids even the slightest deviation from climate denial orthodoxy might not be the smartest general election strategy, for which building a majority requires mastering the art of addition, not subtraction.

GOP Votes Against Climate Change Reality

March 15th, 2011 at 4:45 pm 70 Comments

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have just voted to deny reality. In particular, they voted against an amendment offered by ranking Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman that stated the following:

Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.’

This amendment, failing on a party-line vote of 21-30 on March 15, was one of three amendments proposed by Democrats in a wrangle over Republican-backed legislation that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.

The other two amendments affirmed that human-caused emissions are causing climate change, and that such climate changes poses threats to human health and welfare. Both of these too failed on party-line votes. Of course, worrying about whether climate change is anthropogenic or harmful makes little sense if you don’t believe climate change is occurring at all.

However, the position that climate change isn’t occurring is utterly untenable. The positions that it isn’t anthropogenic or harmful aren’t much better, but at least on those you could find small minorities of scientists who agree with you.

But outright denial that warming is taking place is a position that has virtually no support among scientists anywhere. It’s a position that puts one at odds not just with the scientific mainstream but also with those “climate skeptic” scientists who argue that solar fluctuations or other natural phenomena are causing climate change, or that human-caused climate change is happening but may not be so harmful.

And of course, one might acknowledge that global warming is real, anthropogenic and harmful, and still not think a particular policy proposal to mitigate it would be effective or affordable. There can be reasonable debate about what should be done about climate change. But the Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have opted for something else: a pathetic denial of reality.