Framing the Dialogue

Conservative Environmentalist – Oxymoron?

I have an internal dispute raging inside myself.  OK, there is not actually any rage, but two of my core beliefs are often at odds.  I am a conservative and an environmentalist.  Most people that I encounter assume that since I work for an environmental agency I must be a liberal…wrong.  I really do not think that these beliefs are at odds for the most part.

I think my quandary is not unlike the left-right positions in politics.  Most folks fall in the middle and not in the extreme and the same goes for the environment.  Unfortunately, most conservative pundits lump all of us environmentalists in with ELF, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club.  I actually used to belong to the Sierra Club until they developed Bush Derangement Syndrome and were sending me multiple action updates railing against President Bush (W).  I also had to retire my World Wildlife Fund t-shirt that had the cute panda on the front.

What prompted this post was when I caught part of “America’s Morning Show” this morning and heard Quin and Rose disparaging a move to educate people regarding the best place to wash your car.  I did not catch the whole discussion, but they seemed to minimize and ridicule efforts to alter behavior that is detrimental to the environment.  The position they took allows the left to paint us conservatives into a neat little “they hate the environment” box.  It drives me mad. 

It is a fact that if you wash your own car on the street or driveway, the water will flow into a stormdrain which will empty into the nearby stream.  Essentially, your wash water (detergents, oils, etc.) are conveyed to the stream.  That is pollution.  There are simple solutions:

  • Move your car to the lawn where the water is absorbed by the grass.  You will also water your lawn.
  • If you do not have a lawn, they make low phosphate detergents that are more environmentally friendly.
  • Go to a car wash.  They actually treat and/or recycle the water and do not put dirty water into your local streams.
  • And my favorite…wait for it to rain.

Many conservative pundits confuse environmental action with activism.  My driveway actually slopes away from the street so when we wash our cars, the water flows to the vegetated portion of our yard.  That is action.  Activism would be to pass a law to prevent anyone from washing their own car.  I am sure that that might be on some leftists’ agenda, but I have not heard of any proposed legislation.

As with Chicken Little, when conservative pundits continually demean all environmental actions, they harm meaningful efforts to improve the environment.  In doing so, they actually help the “environmentalist wackos” achieve their goals of governmental control.  Consequently the views of conservative environmentalists are often discounted and reasonable solutions to environmental issues are squashed in favor of “big government” solutions.  That does not help anyone.

I remember when Hurricane Ivan (September 2004) swept through the region a week after Hurricane Francis.  The flood damage in many downstream communities was devastating.  To her credit, Rose Tennant, of America’s Morning Show worked tirelessly raising money and collecting supplies for the victims.  I thought about how she worked tirelessly to help those most affected, but would probably be against most solutions that may have helped prevent some of the damage.

While Ivan was an extreme storm, uncontrolled development above the affected communities contributed to the damage.  Why not just prevent development?  That is the position of many on the left.  I, however, believe in property rights and I know that there are better ways to develop property using practices that minimize impact on streams.  When I used the word “uncontrolled” I was referring to stormwater management.  Many developers are willing to incorporate these measures and are actually prevented by arcane local laws.

The bottom line is that unless we work toward the use of better management infrastructure, the government will ultimately  limit property development.  All it may take is another Ivan.  We know that liberals never waste a good crisis to get what they want.

There are many of us conservatives fighting the good fight for both the environment and conservatism.  It would be nice if conservative pundits would take the time to learn about an issue before poking fun at it.  They often forget that there are very complex issues and the easy solution of government intervention is always lurking in the background. 

Let’s not give the left ammunition.

Oh and pick up after your dog!

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