Conservatives Should Be Embracing Environmentalism – Conservative Article
There is a general belief that environmentalism is a liberal cause whilst climate change denial is the opinion of conservatives. This could not be more wrong. Sure, there are some people that identify as ‘conservative’ that laugh at the idea of environmentalism. But they wouldn’t be truly conservative in the proper meaning of this word.
First of all, let’s focus on the semantics. The word “conservatism” is derived from the late 14c., “conservatyf”, which means “tending to preserve or protect, preservative, having the power to keep whole or safe,” from Old French conservatif, from Medieval Latin conservativus, from Latin conservatus. If we’re to “conserve” the order of things, how can we do so without preserving the planet?
This argument was further developed in Sir Roger Scruton’s book called “Green Philosophy – How to think seriously about the planet”. Scruton was one of the most important conservative thinkers of this century. We, as conservatives, should care about the planet and environmentalism. I want to cover some of the reasons why it’s important for us to do that and why we can do it better than the left.
Environmentalism aligns with the basis of conservatism. If conservatives care about their family and community, they must ensure they don’t contribute to plastic pollution and climate change. For everyone who calls himself a conservative, taking personal responsibility for what’s happening to the environment should be of the utmost importance. They should be standing together with their families and communities.
If conservatives care about the future of their family, they will accept looking after the environment. This may involve taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint, eating less meat, or even simply recycling. Taking care of the environment will ensure that generations after them continue to enjoy the planet in a good condition.
If we don’t do it, the left will. The biggest difference between conservatives and liberals in their approach to environmentalism is the method. The left pushes for it on an international scale, prompting every country to get involved in a global effort. Scruton condemns it. And he’s correct. The best way to get people to help is to bring it home.
Not many people will be invested in supporting environmental causes if they don’t understand how these things affect them. The more localised support and engagement there is from whole families and communities, the better. Actual measurable goals set in their local areas will bring much better results than fear-mongering.
I’ve always been sympathetic to environmental causes, especially as I used to be on the left, but the approach was much different. The behaviour of Extinction Rebellion and other environmental groups simply damages the goal and discourages people from getting involved. With more contribution from the right towards the environmental causes, there will be more progress and both sides can unite on working towards this goal.
If the conservatives embrace environmentalism as their priority, we will see lots of progress. Both sides can then support it, be it on a global or local scale. Many have already realised this. For example, Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s fiancée is an ardent environmentalist – she supports the Bloomberg Foundation’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative which works on reducing the use of plastics. This has invigorated the Tory party concerning environmental causes. Similarly, many others are promoting local issues by raising awareness regarding the community and the climate.
Since our attachment to our country is strong, we should be looking after it. If everyone implemented these ideas on a local level, we wouldn’t struggle so much with the issue of climate change.
In the free economy, we need to understand the consequences of our actions: some of them are environmental. Hence we should do everything we can to limit our individual impact on the environment. As Roger Scruton explains “The solution is to adjust our demands, so as to bear the costs of them ourselves, and to find the way to put pressure on businesses to do likewise. And we can correct ourselves in this way only if we have motives to do so – motives strong enough to restrain our appetites.” To some extent, this aligns with the social contract theory: if we care about other people, we should make a point to look after the environment.
To conclude, climate change should rightly become a conservative issue. It is in our interest to ensure we don’t lose more polar bears.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Dinah Kolka
Point of Information
The Left Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on Being Green – A Liberal Response
I totally agree with Dinah that the left does not have a monopoly on caring about the environment. Everyone needs to care about the environment and what we are doing to the planet. Although not to the same level, the climate crisis will affect everyone in some way. Whether that is fleeing your home due to it becoming uninhabitable, or hotter summers and colder winters than you’ve ever experienced.
Conservative ideology largely does fit with the premises of environmentalism, and Dinah’s arguments make sense. Where I see these ideas falling down, however, is in the free economy aspect. Not everyone can afford to always choose the most environmentally friendly brands: to shop for high-end rather than fast fashion, to buy the more expensive food with a smaller carbon footprint. Alternatively, some people simply do not want to.
Consumers often choose products that are cheaper and more convenient for them. We are blind to the consequences of our actions in this day and age, with the cognitive dissonance of eating meat and then going home and cuddling our pets. Personal responsibility is all well and good, but sometimes it is the responsibility of a government to try and curb the damage some corporations will do. It is not only the duty of the consumer to hold the companies to account for their environmental damage.
The left pushes for global responses to the climate crisis because, overall, it is what we need. It’s great if lots of individuals and families in one country are cutting their carbon emissions and cycling to work. But if the rest of their continent is burning fossil fuels and dumping single-use plastics into the sea, it won’t make a big difference.
Environmentalism can definitely be a conservative cause, as long as they recognise the scale they need to be working on.
Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Emma Hall
Conservatives Should Be at the Forefront of Environmentalism – A Labour Response
The whole idea of being conservative, as Dinah mentioned, is all about preserving what is existing. Throughout history, we have experienced that, not just in the UK but all over the world, the conservatives are the strongest voices to oppose any change that in their perception would change their whole lifestyle. So it is rather confusing why the Conservatives don’t support the cause to save the planet.
By ignoring climate change, denying global warming, and being stiff towards environmental conversation, the Conservatives are actually denying the whole idea of being conservative. Sooner or later, we will all accept how crucial it is to take initiatives to preserve the planet we call our home.
We can all have our opinions based on politics, religion, ethnicity, and economies, but mother earth is one thing we all share in common. This is one topic on which we can not afford to have any differences. We have already done so much to bring our planet to the verge of destruction. It is about time to realize that our mere existence is based on the existence of this planet.
One reason why conservatives underestimate the importance of preserving the environment is that other parties are strong supporters of environmentalism. This is natural that when your opponent supports something, you tend to deny that issue just for the sake of opposing the other party. And the second reason for any person to support or oppose any cause is the influence of their leaders.
This is not just the case in the UK. All over the world, most follow the lead of their political ideals for any issue. Most conservatives might be realising the importance of environmental preservation but all they would need is a push of encouragement from their political leaders.
So this puts a huge responsibility upon the leaders to realise the importance of environmentalism beyond the games of politics and encourage their supporters to serve the cause and save the planet.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Shamamah Dogar