Those that read this blog know that I’m a fan of Dan Kahan, although I don’t know him personally and he and I don’t hang together in the same political spheres. Kahan has conducted some interesting research on cultural cognition as it relates to climate change and other controversial topics, like vaccines, that require an intellectual capacity (and willingness) to understand scientifically complex issues. But before delving into Kahan’s interesting results, a brief refresher on linear regression analysis. The higher the r-value, ranging from 1.0 to -1.0, the stronger the correlation between two variables. When doing linear regression, you can have both negative and positive correlations. It should come, therefore, as no surprise to learn that those who are more highly educated tend to have higher scientific literacy and comprehension than those less educated, r-value of 0.36, as shown by the histogram below. Full post over on Kahan’s blog here.
Paul Sabin has an article in this weekend’s Boston Globe titled “The Decline of Republican Environmentalism.” Sabin, a professor of history at Yale and author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future,” makes a compelling case for the country’s current deadlock on forging solutions to important environmental matters, including climate change. However, I think the article could aptly have been titled the “Decline of Environmentalism” or “The Failed Gamble of Environmentalism,” rather than painting the GOP into a corner. According to Sabin,
Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, from the sunny decks of an excursion boat touring Boston Harbor, George H.W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for president, launched a fierce attack on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee. Bush said that Boston’s polluted waters — “the dirtiest harbor” in America — symbolized Dukakis’s failed leadership. He “will say that he will do for America what he’s done for Massachusetts,” Bush declared. “That’s why I fear for the country.” By delaying a major cleanup of the harbor, Bush said, Dukakis had cost taxpayers billions of dollars and allowed the pollution to continue, making “the most expensive public policy mistake in the history of New England.”
Bush’s attack on Dukakis stands out as perhaps the last time a prominent national Republican turned an environmental cause into a weapon against a Democratic opponent. And in that 25-year gap lies a lost path and a giant missed opportunity. Republicans no longer seriously contest the environmental vote; instead, they have run from it. Largely as a result, national environmental policy-making has become one-sided, polarized, and stuck. Republican politicians mostly deny the threat of climate disruption and block legislative solutions, while President Obama tries to go it alone with a shaky patchwork of executive actions. A middle ground on environmental policy remains a mirage. Continue reading
Art Laffer, former Reagan economic advisor, and Bob Inglis, former GOP Congressman from South Carolina, discuss options for responding to climate change. Tax carbon not income. What do you think?
Check out the Energy and Enterprise Initiative and decide for yourself.
Am posting a thoughtful article by an anonymous House GOP staffer, writing under the pseudonym, Eric Bradenson, on why conservatives need to think and act differently on climate change. Eric, or whoever he is, has concealed his identity to protect himself and his boss. The article reportedly won second place in the “Young Conservative Thought Leaders” contest from the Energy & Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University. Whether or not you agree with Eric on his policy idea, he makes some good points.
How the GOP Could Win the Climate Debate
Someone in the GOP needs to say it: conservation is conservative; climate change is real; and conservatives need to lead on solutions because we have better answers than the other side.
From traditionalists like Russell Kirk to progressive conservatives (far from an oxymoron) like Theodore Roosevelt, to movement conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, conservatives have long fought to protect the natural rights and property rights of individuals, living and unborn, from infringement by environmental degradation and pollution. Continue reading
Thank you to Robert Costa over at NRO for this week resurrecting the term Crunchy Con. Ever since Rod Dreher left NRO, I’ve missed his thoughtful and witty narrative on why it is okay for Republicans and conservatives to care about the environment. Sounds really silly I know, but so many on the political right have forsaken the conservative principles of conservation and environmental stewardship due to the unfortunate politicization of the topic. During a talk last Friday at the Reagan National Library, Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian conservative, and self-described “crunchy conservative,” wasn’t holding back his respect and love for the environment. Costa reports,
Long before he was famous for a filibuster, Senator Rand Paul was a cargo-shorts-wearing ophthalmologist who lived in Bowling Green, Ky. His political activity, beyond supporting his father, was relegated to reading through his bookshelf, which was stocked with the works of Austrian economists and obscure philosophers. He wore hemp shirts, bought organic vegetables, and canoed. But since winning his Senate seat three years ago, Paul has mostly kept that side of himself — his “crunchy conservatism,” as he calls it — under wraps. Instead, he has played up his tea-party persona, and focused on legislating in the buttoned-down Senate.
Paul’s unabashed crunchiness — the term was popularized by former National Review writer Rod Dreher to describe some conservatives’ taste for granola, Birkenstocks, and Mother Nature — wasn’t just a stylistic aside. He argued that his lifestyle is a reflection of his reform agenda for the GOP, which is founded on themes of local control, states’ rights, and free enterprise. He spoke about how the party needs to be a voice for those who love the environment but want the government to stop intruding in their lives and livelihoods. “When we as Republicans wake up and tell voters that we want to be the champion of the small farmer and the small businessman or woman, then we will thrive as a party,” he said. “Republicans care just as deeply about the environment as Democrats, but we also care about jobs.” Continue reading
Can one be a social conservative or member of the GOP and be an environmentalist? Although I’ve long argued what I believe to be the fundamental distinction between being an environmentalist and a conservationist – and perhaps that’s arguing the number of angelic beings dancing on the head of a pin – the obvious answer to the above question is a resounding yes. To me, it’s a rather silly question, but it’s one with legs. As with other social and cultural issues, the GOP’s environmental positioning has long been on the losing side of public sentiment, rhetoric and imagery. Continue reading