Filed under Environment
These days it sometimes seems like many on the right have forgotten the meaning of ‘conservative’ and replaced it with other, more limited ideas which do poor service as a substitute for a coherent conservative philosophy. They might better be described as ‘moralists’ or ‘theocrats’ or ‘corporatists’ or adherents to any of a number of special interests which might have some things in common with conservatism, but lack the broad philosophical applicability.
Conservatism is simple. It is the belief in moderation, traditionalism and stability. Conservatives oppose change for change’s sake, want to preserve the good qualities of the past, and oppose waste and excess. This is a positive philosophy, preserving the good and opposing undesirable change. Conservatism can be applied to any area of life, including stewardship of our natural environment.
The preservation of our natural resources is essential to the welfare of our citizens. I want to preserve the natural beauty of our nation and to provide a healthy environment for our children. This is a goal which I think all conscientious citizens should work towards. This does not mean that I support the imposition of draconian laws on individuals and businesses in the interest of unproven environmental theories, and I absolutely oppose sacrificing individual rights to intrusive federal overregulation or attempts by international special interests to impose their will on our citizens.
Federal environmental legislation has been used as a tool by special interest groups to interfere with free trade and force their social agenda on local communities all over our country. Farmers and businessmen have been driven into bankruptcy, private citizens have been denied access to resources and free use of their own property, and our entire society has been burdened with the cost of whimsical and unnecessary legislation. Conservation and the environment are important, but this vital work should be in the hands of the people, not the federal government.
The environmental movement has been remarkably successful in recent years. Sadly, instead of aiming their efforts towards working directly for the good of the environment, through education and private conservation programs, they have spent most of their time and money lobbying the federal government, which has taken more money from the citizens to finance ill-conceived environmental schemes, pass invasive and destructive laws, violate property rights, all the while administering its environmental programs in its usual ham-handed and inefficient manner. If the efforts of environmentalists were turned towards improving conditions in their own communities and actually doing something about the environment rather than lobbying and scare tactics, far more could be achieved.
Today we face the new threat of international special interests which are attempting to use environmental policy as a way of reshaping the world economy to their own benefit. Nations which do far more ecological damage per capita than the United States have targeted us for persecution because of our prosperity and productivity. It is that very prosperity which has given us the luxury to care so much for our environment in the past, and as we continue to prosper, our success should always carry with it an obligation to care for the land in which we live. But it remains our land and our environment and its care should remain in our hands and not be subject to the agendas of international movements who care little for our welfare or our rights.
Conservation is a personal and individual responsibility. We should each choose to do what we can to minimize our impact on the environment because it is the moral and conservative thing to do. The heart of true conservatism is responsibility and the principle that our actions should not harm others. If our actions harm the environment then they have a cumulative effect of harming all of those around us. This places on us a moral obligation not to be wasteful and not to be destructive and to use the resources at our disposal responsibly.
This is a commitment which we should each make and which should not be imposed by arbitrary standards set by government. If some individual or some entity fails in their moral responsibility to conserve resources and the environment and does not limit themselves to reasonable consumption, they should be held accountable by neighbors and by customers and by the judgment of society. In a rational world that ought to be sufficient to motivate them to change. If it is not and if harm can be proven, then the court system ought to be the correct recourse for punishing irresponsibility, not preemptive government dictates.
If what self-identified environmentalists want is truly just a healthier environment and responsible stewardship of natural resources then rather than resorting to the abusive interpositions of government they ought to embrace the idea of conservation as a personal responsibility and encourage others to accept that conservative value. Far more good can be done by raising public awareness than was ever done by passing any law or regulation. Remember the “crying Indian” commercials of the 1970s? If you don’t, then look them up. That ad campaign did more good for the environment than anything the EPA has done in the last 30 years, primarily by making people aware that the responsibility for a healthy environment was in their hands.
“We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted…So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.” Theodore Roosevelt – “Arbor Day – A Message to the School-Children of the United States” April 15, 1907