The extremism of the left-wing climate project often distracts from the seriousness of the underlying concern – that the Earth is indeed warming and that industrialization appears to be contributing to that warming in a significant way.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased dramatically in just a few short decades, which has led directly to an increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature by nearly two degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. This relatively sudden shift in climate has the potential to bring about all sorts of worrisome side effects, including biodiversity loss, environmental instability, drought, famine, and even forced human migration. Without a strong policy response, the fear is that this trend will continue and ultimately have a devastating effect on humanity’s ability to thrive.
Given the stakes, it’s probably not surprising that this is an issue that resonates with the American people. While many conservatives (including myself) are skeptical of the left-wing project on climate, according to a recent Pew poll, 58 percent of Americans believe the government is doing “too little” to reduce the effects of climate change. Incredibly, even under President Biden, who has made combating climate change a defining issue of his administration to the chagrin of some conservative activists, just 18 percent of Americans think the government is doing “too much.”
It’s also fair to suggest that the issue might be contributing to a hesitancy to vote Republican among large swaths of voters. A Washington Post-ABC News poll from last fall found that 51 percent of registered voters considered climate change to be “very important” in their vote for Congress. That number included 58 percent of Hispanics, 46 percent of independents, and even 27 percent of Republicans.
As we head into the 2024 presidential campaign, it’s obvious that the party of Teddy Roosevelt has an opportunity to grow its coalition by embracing its conservationist roots and engaging in the fight. Republicans can still go on the attack by opposing the Democrats’ efforts to use climate as an excuse to drive up energy costs, impose crony socialism, and reimagine the entire American economy. But Republicans must also present voters with their own reasonable solutions on climate that, unlike the Democrats’ radical policies, actually account for the kitchen table issues working families are currently facing.
Who, other than an occasional B-movie villain, actually opposes protecting the environment? Republicans have a long history of conservation and protecting America’s incredible natural resources. But the left has created a total straw man to represent the right’s views, much like they did on abortion during the midterms, and it has largely worked because Republicans prefer to avoid talking about the “controversial” issues — as always, a recipe for political disaster.
Most Americans haven’t yet connected the dots between Joe Biden’s failed climate policies, our energy crisis, and the higher costs of essential goods and services, as the Pew poll demonstrates. Biden has effectively enacted portions of the Green New Deal to little criticism, and the results have been devastating for working families at the gas pump and the grocery store. Meanwhile, left-wing environmental activists demand even more by engaging in ridiculous political stunts such as blocking traffic and throwing soup on historic paintings.
If these activists were serious about our “climate emergency,” they would embrace bipartisan solutions on climate. But for many of these agitators, it’s not about reducing carbon emissions. Instead, it’s about political revolution — overthrowing democracy and capitalism and replacing our form of government with an authoritarian Marxist regime. These people aren’t just out of touch. They’re out of their minds.
Americans are a savvy bunch. They can see right through the charade. They recognize the absurdity of silver-spooned elites living lavish lifestyles telling us to turn down the heat and eat the bugs. But that doesn’t mean they are unconcerned about the environment. Conservatives will struggle to capitalize on any of this without coming to the table with their own ideas. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to dream up innovative ways to combat climate change without hurting working-class families.
Let’s start with an easy solution: We should plant billions of trees. I am not a scientist, but I am reliably told that trees breathe in carbon dioxide. We are currently investing billions of dollars in carbon capture technology, which is fine, but why not spend a bit on Project Johnny Appleseed? Both parties can agree that trees help offset carbon emissions and, unlike the hideous blight of wind farms, beautify their surroundings. By one estimate, the world has more than 3 trillion trees, with America accounting for approximately 228 billion of those trees. Those are rookie numbers. The next Republican president should run specifically on a plan to plant an additional 100 trees for every American.
Another option is going nuclear. We don’t have to wait for the technology to catch up: We can reduce our carbon emissions today because nuclear power is already here. Left-wing activists remain ultra-focused on renewable energy such as wind and solar, but nuclear is by far the most proven, reliable, non-fossil fuel option available — and it’s not close. Start-up costs for new reactors can be fairly expensive, but Republicans should be willing to make a financial commitment to invest in America’s energy future. It will more than pay off in the long run.
We should also take a lesson from President Trump’s America First agenda and go after China for its carbon emissions. Republican criticism of the Paris Climate Accord focused on the treaty’s hypocrisy: Why should America be held to costly environmental standards while our enemies are not? It’s a fair question. To address this unfairness, many have suggested enacting a border carbon adjustment (BCA) tariff or a pollution import fee. America has the cleanest manufacturing in the world. Meanwhile, China is selling us cheap goods and treating climate change as if it were a joke. A BCA tariff would prioritize America’s interests by holding our enemies accountable for their dirty environmental practices while rewarding cleaner domestic manufacturing.
This is how we win, and not just on the environment, but on every issue. We should always be going on offense by pointing out the insanity coming from the left. But we can’t stop there. Americans expect more from the Republican Party. They want us to address the issues they care about and articulate concrete solutions that will actually solve problems. On climate change, we have a real opportunity in 2024 and beyond to take this issue away from the left and make inroads with voters we need to win presidential elections. We should absolutely take advantage.