Climate Change: From a Former Conservative
Is climate change a threat to humanity? I believe that it is.
That wasn’t always my stance.
I was young during the Aquanet years of the ’80s. I remember the ozone layer discussion that morphed into global warming. I believed it then and wanted to do something about it, like chastising my mother whenever she used hairspray.
As I got older and liberal politics became more identity-focused, I began to lean more conservative. That’s when my views on the climate started to change, as well.
What a dangerous reality: disagreeing with one element of a specific philosophy can lead to changes in your entire philosophic outlook.
That’s what happens when we allow the talking heads on TV to tell us what to think.
What the conservative pundits say
Political parties are nothing without someone to define the argument. Once the argument is defined, often by politicians, then experts are called in to validate it.
These are the conservative arguments against climate change that had the most effect on me.
“Humans can’t influence climate change”
According to such pundits, we are tiny in relation to our planet and cannot, therefore, control or affect it. Anything we do that could negatively affect our environment will be compensated for by Mother Nature.
“The climate has changed before”
The world gets hotter and colder in cycles, like the “mini ice age” of the 1800s. The warming of the planet today is simply our stage in the current cycle, not because of any effect our factories, cars, and other pollutants are having on our ecosystem.
“We’ll destroy our economy trying to fix it”
Jobs are tied up in coal and oil. If we make a sudden change to green energy, then those jobs are lost. Not everyone is in a position to learn a new field of study — going from coal miner to windmill engineer is not an easy leap — and so those working in fossil fuel jobs will be irreparably harmed.
Why conservatives deny the science
As in liberalism, it has become a moral imperative for conservatives to back their side's politics. It doesn’t matter if science or God says differently.
Because agreeing with the other side gives them power, power that could win them elections.
It doesn’t matter if they secretly agree, as I think most conservatives do in their hearts, that climate change is real. They are so entrenched in their argument that to give in now would open every other position they hold to scrutinization.
This blind idealism, the willingness to follow whatever political leaders say, regardless of facts, is why I abandoned liberalism in my twenties and why I no longer agree with conservatism.
Coming to terms
Is it possible to change conservative thoughts on climate change? I believe so, but it would be like changing liberal thoughts about welfare. There is a middle argument to most positions we hold that we refuse to entertain because of the power struggle.
I think we can fix all of the problems facing humanity today, including climate change, but not as a two-party political system.
No one is going to “win” these arguments.
As with personal conflict, we need options. We need a way out of the “for or against” struggle.
But voting for a third-party candidate is blasphemy — you’re just giving your vote to the other side, the pundits say. The truth is that if Fox and CNN couldn’t take diehard positions against each other, if the lines were not so clearly drawn, then the tension of politics would loosen. Viewers would not be interested in tuning in and nodding as their favorite talking head validates what the audience has been taught to believe.
The conservative argument for climate change is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. And just as the pundits fear, once I disagreed with one conservative view, I scrutinized the lot.
The science that climate change is real and dangerous is undeniable if you take a moment to look at it, which no conservative will do, mainly out of fear that they might agree. And then what?
I’m not sure if the journey from different philosophies is how most people become independent, but it’s how my journey has led me so far.
I hope we figure out a political system that entertains more than two sides of thought before it’s too late. Without the ability for one side to change their views without losing power, I fear things will never change.