Conservatives Want To Fix the Climate – They Just Don’t Know It Yet

Conservatives Want To Fix the Climate – They Just Don’t Know It Yet


Donald Trump may not like it, but addressing climate change is an issue that fits perfectly within Republican ideology.

Let me tell you why.

First, acting on Climate Change is a religious no-brainer. American conservatives are strongly religious, with a highly influential Christian base. Organized religions (and most secular moral codes) agree on the essential human imperative to lend a hand to people in dire straits. Climate change is creating conditions of utmost economic, social and physical distress, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable people around the world – small subsistence farmers earning a dollar or two per day, dependent on the weather to eke out a living. In a twisted turn of fate, the parts of the globe feeling the strongest effects of climate change, and forecast to bear the brunt of future climate extremes, are areas with the fewest resources available to prepare themselves for what is coming.

We live in a global community, linked more tightly and comprehensively than ever before. Because of modern communication technology, we can no longer feign ignorance when our neighbors starve or are forced to take desperate measures to ensure the survival of their families. Coming to the aid of the world’s most vulnerable citizens against the ravages of climate change is a goal perfectly in line with the Conservative Christian moral code. In fact, it would be disingenuous not to intervene.

Secondly, climate change is the key fiscal issue of our time. Climate change doesn’t just mean strange weather and struggling farmers – the effects are far reaching. Heat waves, increased risk of tropical diseases, and severe weather events such as tornadoes and tsunamis all have negative impacts on human health – and the American economy. Damage to property and financial assets will also intensify and become more common (remember how hard hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey?).

At both individual and national levels, the economic consequences levied by climate change are painfully significant. Political disruptions, crop failures, and systemic economic upheaval are all possibilities – which will affect your wallet and possibly the security of your nation. If you identify as a prudent fiscal conservative, it’s in your best interest to prevent the worst effects of climate change both now and in the future.

Third, inaction on climate change is a national security threat. Just ask the Department of Defense, which is leading the charge on renewable energy R&D and climate change adaptation, or ask one Iraq war veteran who describes climate change as the “mother of all risks” to national security. The ripple effects of climate change’s impact on food production and food prices can cause political unrest, social fragmentation, and the destabilization of commodity markets. This isn’t a future hypothetical; climate change has already contributed to toppling governments, which we observed in the revolutions of the Arab Spring in 2008-2009.

Conservatives and liberals may not have much to cooperate on these days, but all would readily agree that people should not be forced to starve or lose their livelihoods when achievable, implementable solutions exist. This is especially the case when helping our neighbor also helps ourselves – by lending a hand in regions struggling with climate change, we also protect ourselves from political and economic instability and develop solutions that we will likely soon need in our own fields and cities back home. There are other strong reasons why Republicans should act, including the hunter’s incentive for habitat conservation, and the importance of re-establishing American technological innovation in the future global economy. All told, climate denial is not a future political winner for conservatives , and Republican legislators increasingly are becoming aware of this, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Gibson (R-NY).

Maybe climate change should be a Republican issue in 2016 after all.

Tobias Lunt is a Fulbrighter working on agriculture and climate change in Ethiopia – opinions are his own. He tweets @tobiaslunt and can be found on the web at

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