Sunday, June 19, 2011

Three reasons that Conservatives should fight global warming

Here in Australia, as in America, the conservative branch of politics remains firmly opposed to meaningful action to slow climate change. This is unfortunate, because climate change offers several opportunities to conservatives, were they to move aggressively to transition away from fossil fuels. I will list three below.

Note that on occasion, liberal opinionators will describe reasons that conservative should act on climate change. Those reasons generally boil down to something along the lines of “well, basically they should stop being so conservative.” This is not one of those lists. Instead, I will describe three ways in which action on climate change will help conservative causes at the expense of the left.

1. Unravel the unions

The fossil fuel industry is generally more heavily unionized than the general population in most countries. In union-poor countries like the US, sectors like coal are amoung the few in private industry where unions remain relevant. In heavily unionized countries like Australia, union penetration of energy production is extremely high.

In contrast, many renewable energy companies are small, entrepenurial, and union-free. As far as I know, there has never been a crippling strike by the united brotherhood of rooftop solar panel installers, because no such organization exists. If the left is allowed to guide the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, they will probably find a way of transferring union power into the new field. In contrast, the shift away from fossil fuels offers conservative a one-in-a-generation opportunity to destroy unions by closing down the industries in which they operate.

2. Neuter the NIMBYs

Transitioning from fossil fuels to a renewable economy will require a lot of development. Power generation and transmission facilities will all have to be built, and built fast, in order to effect meaningful change before irreparable damage is done to the polar ice caps. This can’t happen if small numbers of highly connected recalcitrant people have the power to block development. A prime example of this is the Cape Wind fiasco in Massachusetts, where local opposition led by the liberal Kennedy political dynasty has stymied the project for a decade and added billions to its cost. Rapid and effective changes to the energy system will not be possible if the NIMBY obstruction industry is allowed to continue blocking it, so they will have to be disempowered.

3. Embarrass the United Nations

The United Nations has been trying to act on climate change for almost 20 years. Under its Kyoto protocol, emissions have actually increased faster than what was considered the worst case scenario at the time. This is due mostly to the industrialization of Asia, where the flight of Western industry has created wealth and opportunity for billions of people in countries that were once destitute. While this is great for Asia, it shows that the UN plan was completely useless in terms of slowing CO2 emissions. A smart, effective, conservative-based, locally controlled emissions plan that immediately cuts into emissions would show to the world that in general, the most effective thing the UN can do is to get out of the way.


Anonymous said...

Interesting thought. Didn't President Richard Nixon establish the EPA becuase it was a conversative virtue to conserve the environment...

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