Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator under President George W. Bush, has an op-ed in today’s New York Daily News that tears down President Trump’s environmental policies and in some ways tries to redefine what “conservative” means.
President Trump’s executive order effectively repealing the Clean Power Plan brands the Republican Party with an anti-environmental brush, forgetting that conservation and environmental protection are traditionally conservative values.
Let’s be honest and admit that Republicans were branded with that brush long before anything Trump did. Conservation and environmental protection certainly aren’t outside the scope of conservatism, but those are terribly charged terms these days. More often than not they describe beliefs and actions openly hostile to property rights, freedom, and capitalism. For many, protecting the environment means preventing humans from touching it in any way. That’s not conservative. This is probably why Whitman goes on to use examples of when environmental protection policies were supported by Republicans. The R word and the C word aren’t interchangeable.
The modern environmental movement arguably began when the GOP’s founder, Abraham Lincoln, set aside the first public lands for preservation; then came Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican President who vastly expanded the national park system. A Republican President, Richard Nixon, and a Democratic Congress created much of our landmark environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Abraham Lincoln also set aside parts of the Constitution. There is really nothing conservative about allowing the federal government to stockpile real estate or about establishing a a new federal bureaucracy.
Although Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may not believe climate change to be a legitimate concern, its effects are evident. Retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, cites climate change as greater than an environmental issue; in fact, he describes it as a global security crisis.
The New York-based Regional Plan Association reports that by 2050, the sea level along the Atlantic Coast could rise by a foot. The rising of the sea level directly affects the severity, and, possibly, the frequency, of coastal storms, meaning the land is susceptible to erosion and the coastline is at risk for destruction.
She says the effects of climate change are evident and then cites predictions as the evidence. The climate change lobby hasn’t been very good at making accurate predictions so pardon me if I don’t think guesswork and conjecture qualify as evidence. She goes on to assume natural disasters are caused by climate change and are avoidable through government action. The same people who can’t build a web site to sell health insurance are going to tame Mother Nature. This is just boilerplate eco-alarmism combined with hubris.
Economic damage from natural disasters strains both human and financial resources — on our home turf and around the world. The United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responds to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries annually. U.S. military personnel are often first responders, providing aid and relief; thus, resources are transmitted away from the U.S.
She then drags out another tired talking point.
As has been said before, if we do something now about reducing pollution and in 20 years find out we were wrong about climate change, we will have done no harm. But if we do nothing and in 20 years find we were wrong, it will be too late.
Reducing pollution is a legitimate goal, but again it depends on who is defining what a pollutant is and in what concentrations. It is completely false to say there is no harm done if we’re wrong about climate change. To say that assumes (falsely) that regulations on industry severe enough to change the planet’s climate will have no negative economic impact. There will be harm done, just not harm to the environment, which is all that matters to some people. Being able to feed, clothe, house, and employ human beings is secondary to the crusade to appease Gaia.
Trump’s executive order sets a dangerous precedent. While the executive order does not directly address the Paris climate deal — the agreement among countries to prevent the planet from warming more than 3.6 degrees — it surely indicates noncompliance. It will serve to increase pollution and magnify the effects of climate change.
There could be an agreement among countries to prevent Godzilla from stomping Tokyo but pulling out of it wouldn’t guarantee the fictional monster will become real. Whitman like many others is basically arguing that climate change is a major threat because she believes climate change is a major threat. Whitman fails to make the case. There is nothing conservative about anything in this op ed.