The Conservative Case for Conservation

Believing in climate change and being a conservative are not mutually exclusive values. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Failure to support the scientific link that climate change is caused by human activity is ideologically incongruent with conservatism.

Historically, conservatives have supported climate change initiatives. President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, President Ronald Reagan signed the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1986, President George H.W. Bush commissioned the National Climate Assessment by passing the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and, then, his son rejected his predecessors by failing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  

President Trump, with this established precedent, then exited from the non-binding Paris Agreement and cemented a party of skeptics. According to Yale University as of 2018, “only 40% of conservative Republicans,” believe climate change is real and “only 26%” believe it is the result of human activity. Make no mistake, this is a rejection of conservative principles.

Conservative ideology is predicated upon two key concepts: self-determination and traditionalism. Self-determination, more or less, is the ability to make decisions about one’s life while traditionalism is how an aggregate of individuals ought to live in society.  

Conservative beliefs stem from how the relationship of these ideas interact. Well-known positions, albeit misnomers, like small government or free markets, advance self-determination within a framework of traditionalism. For example, no rational citizen wants smog so bad that highways close, like in China, which is a clear example of how sensible environmental regulation must be balanced with appropriate market incentives for firms and individual freedoms to drive.  

Honestly, these misnomers have replaced the analytical framework for some conservatives, which is why federal actions to expand executive, judicial, or legislative powers are met with reactionary criticism. Some of this criticism is valid, while other criticism isn’t.

There is a requisite amount of federal expansion that must happen. In other words, conservatives and liberals are all born into a social contract. As citizens, certain freedoms are traded for safety. For example, if we want to have a formidable military, we must have non-zero taxation. The question, then, is what do we fund? Or, more accurately, what do we value?

When it comes to taxes, less is more. Unless a project is capital intensive or involves a common good, we do not necessarily need government involvement. From social security to public education to healthcare initiatives, these programs are plagued with fraudwaste, and abuse from misaligned incentives and short-sighted policy goals. Of course that list is not exhaustive and both the military and private sector are liable for similar failures.  

Matthew Kotchen of Yale University argues that a common good is both non-rival and non-excludable. The environment is an example of a common good. Roads, schools, public parks, and community services are all ideas built on a physical foundation— the environment.  Essentially, citizens are stakeholders of common goods through taxation. Naturally, citizens must also derive benefits from taxation. Otherwise, why bother paying taxes?   

Environmental stewardship may be nonpartisan, but application is not. Simply put, the problem starts with the intellectually dishonest denial and blatantly uninformed skepticism by many on the right. Failure to acknowledge how air pollutants are hurtful, regardless of greenhouse gas emissions, should be intuitive. These negative externalities only exacerbate the unnecessary gridlock that makes fixing flawed cap-and-trade policies or revenue-neutral carbon taxes harder. Hell, even Mattis believes that climate change negatively impacts our national security.  

Conservatives know the Environmental Protection Agency is flawed. However, the Republican Party’s first reactions are to shut it down instead of meaningful reform— denial over integration of environmental practices in classrooms, and not advocacy for community driven solutions at an individual consumer level.

To elaborate, reducing greenhouse gases have made our soldiers more lethal and decreased air pollutants allows us to live longer. Community solutions are inherently a conservative trait as the mantle of responsibility resides with ‘the’ individual. Further, youth organizations, like the Girl Scouts, teach environmental stewardship at an early age and the benefits of private sector sales.

Essentially, consumers drive our markets, our wars, and our environment’s health.  Let’s not punish bartenders with ridiculous straw ban penalties of imprisonment, but the cost of sourcing green consumer products is a more pure form of capitalism because the life-cycle pollution costs are taken into account.  

Conservatives will define crucial moments in history. As the champions of emancipation, of stewardship, and of nuclear disarmament, there is a choice.  We can be a skeptic, a believer, or deny the impact of human activity on greenhouse gases.  However, we owe it to our predecessors to understand what we value as conservatives.  

Thanks for reading. This article was originally published on Lone Conservative.

Disclaimer:  All views are my own.  None of my positions represent the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force, or any stance of the U.S. Government.

Guilt-Free Ice Cream!

Hate Mondays?

Imagine getting ice cream after a long, dreadful Monday. Imagine it being vegan Haagen Dazs ice cream. You know the kind that tastes even better than the rich, melt-in-your mouth, yummy tasting normal ice cream we all crave and love? Better yet, imagine the Haagen Dazs ice cream in a reusable stainless-steel container delivered straight to your house! With that kind of service, who would ever dare to leave the house?

Well, folks, this dream can become a reality in New York City or Paris. By this spring, Loop has teamed up with major consumer product companies such as Tide, Crest, Nestle (producers of Haagen Dazs), The Body Shop, and others to begin one of the largest zero-waste initiatives ever. While recycling is great, it is impossible to keep up with how many times people throw away single-use items.

Loop’s zero-waste solution is to deliver a large range of products that are less harmful to the environment. From toothpaste to cleaning supplies to laundry detergent to ice cream, the Loop will have it covered. Just like Amazon, the items you purchased will be delivered to your doorstep by UPS. However, instead of cardboard boxes, engineers are designing reusable tote bags that are designed for durability. Once you have used up the products, just send it back and Loop will automatically replenish whatever you used. Loop also uses stainless steel containers in the process that are cleaned, sterilized, and then reused for the next customer.

This innovative packaging will have a 50-75% better impact than other conventional alternatives.

"We need foundational changes. Our version of the foundational change is: How do we solve for disposability at the root cause…”

Tom Szaky, CEO and co-founder of TerraCycle

This analysis is conducted by TerraCycle, a major recycling company that works with Loop’s supply chain to find sustainable and cost effective ways of reducing costs and pollution. This first step will create monumental change away from a disposable consumer society to a more eco-conscientious one. Simply put, by Tom Szaky, Loop and other corporate partners are changing the world from “disposable to durable”.

By 2050, plastic will outweigh the fish in our oceans.

Between TerraCycle and Loop’s zero-waste initiative, the top 10 largest plastic polluters are working to transition towards a zero-waste environment by 2025. This is reminiscent of the 1900s when milk bottles were deliver to the doorsteps. Why not go back to a similarly effective model? With Loop, they have designed it in an effective way for the modern world. Profitability and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive.

Not only are the 21st century environmental stewardship practices for corporations more targeted and have the ability to be better than ever, but your delicious Haagen Dazs ice cream will stay colder for longer. Be sure to thank that stainless steel double layered container and enjoy! 

Go ahead and reserve a spot to be apart of this growing, guilt-free trend! Get your spoons ready because I know I am! Mmm.