At this year’s FreedomFest held in South Dakota, a panel was held to discuss an issue that has bitterly divided the conservative movement in recent years: climate change. This panel included Marc Morano of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, both of whom argued that conservatives should be skeptical of the science around climate change and not engage on the issue. On the other end of the panel were C3 Solutions Co-Founder John Hart and American Conservation Coalition President and Founder Benji Backer, who argued that conservatives should follow the science of climate change and bring forward market-based solutions to environmental challenges.
After the heated debate at FreedomFest, CFACT sent out a fundraising email based on Marc Moreno’s comment that Benji Backer’s praise of famed climate activist Greta Thunberg was “horrific.” While Thunberg does promote climate change in an alarmist and sometimes unproductive way, she is closer to real science than those at CFACT. It is a fact that climate change is indeed happening, is being accelerated by human activity, and that it is having a disproportionately negative impact on our natural world. The folks at CFACT would rather not acknowledge those realities, which is holding conservatives back.
Benji Backer of ACC responded to this by saying, “We have to get to the heart of this… there is no debate of this amongst young people.” Benji is correct here; it seems that my generation has a greater ability to come to terms with the science here than the folks at CFACT. The environment and climate are profoundly important to the new generation of conservatives: statistics show that young conservatives care overwhelmingly about the environment. And no, it is not because we are “indoctrinated into climate fear,” as CFACT has said. It is because the science is abundantly clear. A multitude of published, peer-reviewed studies demonstrates that 97% of active climate scientists agree that there is overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring.
The broad sentiment that Thunberg displays is largely the sentiment of my generation, but to our misfortune, the conversation around climate change is largely controlled by the political left, who propose big government and anti-market solutions to climate change, like the Green New Deal. Fortunately, the Republican Party has taken concrete steps to end the left’s monopoly on climate and environmental issues. Recently Republicans founded the Conservative Climate Caucus, Leader Kevin McCarthy created the Republican Climate Task Force, and Republicans helped pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the Senate. These actions by Republicans on the national stage show that the Republican Party and conservative movement are working to bring conservative solutions to the environment and climate that actually follow science.
As a member of Gen Z, a conservative, and someone who cares deeply about fighting climate change, I am inspired by people like Benji Backer. Many are correctly pointing out that the Republican party will lose the next generation of young conservatives if they follow the path CFACT is suggesting we follow. Conservatives can and should engage on the issue of climate change, thus ending the left’s monopoly on the issue. This is because we can fight climate change by embracing the free market, promoting local action, and being better stewards of our natural environment in our personal lives. Believing in climate science and being a conservative are not mutually exclusive as those on the climate denial side of the stage at FreedomFest tried to suggest. Conservatives can and should engage on the issue of climate change in a way that follows the science, for the sake of our way of life, our planet, and the next generation.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.