Thursday, May 03, 2007

Green Conservatism

Here in Japan, people enjoy spring holidays, called the Golden Week from late April to early May. It is the best season to see beautiful green and wildlife in Japan. Therefore, I am talking of a green essay by Former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He has contributed an article, entitled “We Can Have Green Conservatism--And We Should” to Human Events.

Generally speaking, environmentalism has been regarded as an agenda of liberals and leftists. Although many environmental groups do not assume ideological missions, liberals and leftists use them as machines against “pro-business” conservatives. But is conservatism really antagonistic to environmentalism?

In his essay, Newt Gingrich, currently Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, questions “For the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation liberals label themselves as the only Americans who care about the environment.” Gingrich criticizes liberal environmentalism radical, hysterical, and inaccurate. Liberals depend on litigation and taxes too much, while conservatives simply reject these measures, which lead people to label conservatism anti-environment. Gingrich says he wants to change this, and insists that environmentalism be pro-freedom and pro-market.

He mentions Former Vice President Albert Gore, and explains why conservatives are defensive on environment.

For example, former Vice President Al Gore suggests that global warming is so bad that we could have a 20-foot rise in the oceans in the near future. No responsible scientist anywhere believes that to be true. But if the debate becomes, "Al Gore cares about the earth, and we're against Al Gore," we end up in a defensive position where the average American could end up perceiving conservatives as always being negative about the environment.

According to Gingrich, they key to green conservatism is energy independence from dangerous dictators and development of clean energy. He says that environmentalism should be founded on science, entrepreneurship, and free market, instead of lawyers, bureaucrats, regulation, and taxation.

In Britain, Tory leader David Cameron adopts a green logo to symbolize his party’s commitment to the environment and social equality. As I mention in the previous post, “Europe as a Critical Focus”, David Frum, Resident Fellow at the AEI, criticizes this. But whether Cameron’s conservatism is right or wrong, it is a good idea to show that conservatives are not simple-minded pro-business but care about the environment as much as leftists do.

Conservatism can get along with green activism. It is critical to economic development by mega-projects such as gigantic dams. The Green Revolution in the 1960s was based on liberal ideas of big government, which caused serious consequences to the environment. Environmentalists criticize this project bitterly.

Today, conservatism is regarded anti-green. This is a worrisome trend. Capitalism in the 19th century was ruthless to working class, and indifferent to growing social gaps between the rich and the poor. This led to the rise of Marxism, but capitalism overcame this crisis through adjusting itself to a welfare state. Conservatism needs to deal with environmental issues like this way.

Remember that Theodore Roosevelt is the first green president in American history. Conservatism can be green. It is essential that conservatives address their own environmental agenda for the future.