The Politics of Climate Change

I’m confused. Given what the best, impartial science is telling us about climate change, the two key constituencies in the Republican Party–religious conservatives and capitalists–ought to be calling for more agressive action to control greenhouse gas emissions before the climate reaches a “tipping point.”

What’s going on here?

As I noted in an earlier blog entry, some religious conservatives have indeed recognized that working to control CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions does indeed constitute doing “God’s work.” Though they and I approach it from different perspectives, we share a sense of wonder that this small chunk of rock that we live on is indeed remarkable and more fragile than many people realize.

Capitalists, except for those who are beholden to companies that are better served in the short run by the status quo, ought to recognize an enormous business opportunity here. Tim Flannery discusses many of the possible technological solutions toward the end of his book The Weather Makers, pointing out that there is plenty of money to be made, even in the short run.

Yet Republicans allow their party machinery to work against meaningful climate change policies. The control seems to reside not in the true, forward-looking capitalists but in the big-money corporations whose short-term bottom line would be threatened if they permitted entrepreunial capitalists to thrive.

As a moderate Democrat who has recently become more active with my words and my money, whenever I get questionnaires and fund-raising calls, I have been encouraging my party to seize on climate change as an issue for everyone’s future.

Yet, as I look at the two key consituencies of the Republican Party, “going green” looks like a more natural fit for them.

Another devastating hurricane or record-breaking heatwave/drought will propel this issue to the fore in a national election, and I think that one of the parties should sieze on it before that. No matter which party you consider yours, I urge you to direct your contributions and your comments to persuading it to address the greenhouse gas problem now.

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