WSW: Conservatives and Climate Change

Apr 23, 2015

Wind Farm in Idaho
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Rob Sisson says the Republican Party has a long and proud history on the issues of conservation and the environment. He says now there should be conservative solutions offered to address climate change. 

The former Mayor of Sturgis is Executive Director of ConservAmerica, which works with conservatives on the issues of climate change and the environment. Sisson was in Kalamazoo on April 21st to speak about political action on climate change. He sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans to discuss the conservative response to environmental issues. 

While Sisson likes to talk about a "strong legacy" of conservation among conservatives, he acknowledges that the 2010 election brought in a new crop of "Tea Party" Republicans. They were more likely to take a skeptical view toward federal regulation. Sisson says it's up to groups like his to frame the issues in a way that appeals to conservatives. He says one idea is a "carbon tax." Sisson says while conservatives generally oppose new taxes, they may be convinced to go along with a tax restructuring where a new carbon tax would be combined with reducing or eliminating the payroll tax. But Sisson says his group is not advocating any one proposal. 

"What some people say publicly and what they believe personally are often two different things in the world of politics, unfortunately."

While many conservatives often dispute the very idea of climate change, Sisson there is general acceptance of the science that shows that the average temperature of the Earth is warming and that human activity is a major cause. Sisson who meets often with Republican members of Congress and staff members, says "What some people say publicly and what they believe personally are often two different things in the world of politics, unfortunately." 

Money is spent heavily on both sides of the issue. Sisson says much of the money from pro-environmental groups is spent "preaching to the choir." He wishes just a fraction would be targeted at educating more conservative voters. Sisson says large amounts of money are also spent fomenting denial of climate science. He says they've done a very effective job of creating confusion. 

Looking at the field of potential Republican candidates for President in 2016, Sisson says he thinks the party will be in a better position on the issue of climate change. He says several of the candidates in the race have shown that they accept the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change. Sisson says the question is how to address that "without tanking the economy."