What does conservative environmentalism look like?

What does conservative environmentalism look like? We know there are conservatives and Republicans that "care about the environment," but what do they want to do about it? Brad Plumer at WonkBlog interviewed Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western University, who recently published an essay on this subject, titled “Conservative Principles for Environmental Reform,”

Here's what Adler sees as the conservative approach to addressing climate change:


BP: Okay, what about climate change? This is arguably the biggest environmental problem of all and so far most conservatives have tried not to talk about it at all.

JA: I’ve done work on this before arguing that if you take property rights seriously, then climate change is a problem even if you don’t believe in the apocalyptic climate-change scenarios.

Even most skeptics believe, for instance, that there will be some degree of sea-level rise — they might not think it’s catastrophic, but they’ll concede it exists. And over hundreds of years of common-law tradition, we’ve recognized that flooding a neighbor’s land is a property right’s violation.
So if there’s a conservative commitment to property rights, you can’t ignore that by talking about Al Gore or saying that it’s inefficient or too costly to deal with it. Folks on the right didn’t say it was wrong for New London to take [Susette] Kelo’s land because it was inefficient. It was wrong because it was her land!
At the very least, folks on the right should be talking about things like whether the United States should be indemnifying poor parts of the world that are likely to be flooded and help them adapt. But I think that once we think about those questions, we start seeing climate change as an insurance or risk problem. And if it’s a risk problem, given the possibility of potentially large downside risk, we have to start talking about mitigation too.

The interview covers a lot of ground, so go read it all.

Tags: Global Warming Solutions