Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Climate, Politics, and Religion - by Katharine Hayhoe

Climate Change Concern Index by Religious Affiliation (Credit: Public Religion Research Institute/American Academy of Religion’s Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey 2014 [xvi]) Click to Enlarge.
From the perspective of conservative values, what is more sensible than to invest in homegrown renewable energy, with Texas, California, and Iowa leading the way?  What is more consistent with free market economics than to unleash the power of the market by putting an accurate price on carbon?  And what is more conservative than to conserve natural resources?  As Ronald Reagan stated in 1984, “Preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense.  Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.” 

This isn’t just a pipe-dream.  Former Republican congressman Bob Inglis’ republicEn community promotes conservative, free market solutions to energy and climate issues. ConservAmerica, a group of Republicans, conservatives and independents who share a passion for the environment, aims to educate people on conservative approaches to the environment, energy, and conservation.  A new Libertarian think tank called Niskanen Center, named after former chairman of the Cato Institute Bill Niskane, is focusing on replacing carbon regulations with market-friendly emission controls.  And there is even a Green Tea Party now, whose mission includes generating creative new solutions to collective, societal problems.

On the other side of the world, things are also starting to change.  In China—long famed for its rampant coal use and appalling air quality—carbon emissions, rather than continuing to grow, may actually dropped in 2014.  China also leads the way in solar power manufacturing and employs more than 2.5 million people across the renewable energy sector.  In terms of energy generation, China is number one in wind, and stands second after Germany for solar.  India ranks fourth for renewable energy jobs and fifth for wind production, respectively.  The U.S., in comparison, is third in renewable energy jobs, second in wind, and fifth in solar energy production.

Here in the United States, burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the science of climate change has endangered our global commons.  It has worsened the very real issues we already combat today—hunger, inequity, water shortages, and disease.  But climate denial, with its roots buried deep in ideology masked by religion and politics, has one more devastating impact.  Lacking a price on carbon, it can also rob us of the opportunities the clean energy economy presents.

To meet the challenges of a changing climate and a changing society, we need more than science.  I, as a scientist, have learned to frame this issue around our values.  We as a society must do this too. We need our values, our ideology, and even our faith.  The foundation of a brighter future is made of scientific facts and common sense, knit together with an unwavering appreciation of what is right and just.

Read more  at Climate, Politics, and Religion

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