A Different Conservative View on Climate Change: It's Happening

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One of 52,400 Google images critical of Al Gore and Climate Change

The one time I met Jonathan Kay he was rude and arrogant, and he often comes off that way in his column in the National Post. But unlike the Posties in the back pages who are rabid climate change deniers, Kay makes a lot of sense in his article Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause.

Like many of us at TreeHugger, he despairs about how the climate change issue has become politicized into a left/right split, but he explains:

This describes, more or less, how radicalized warming deniers treat the subject of their obsession: They see global warming as a Luddite plot hatched by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Al Gore to destroy industrial society.

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Kay describes what one paper called "cultural cognition thesis". He writes:

In simpler words, too many of us treat science as subjective -- something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.

In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism -- and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned -- is synonymous with both personal fulfilment and human advancement. The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.

Kay also believes that Conservatives are making a big mistake reacting this way.

It is one of the most important debates of our time. Yet many conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in it by simply cupping their hands over their ears and screaming out imprecations against Al Gore.

He concludes that it is counterproductive and dangerous for a serious conservative movement to act this way if they are going to get anywhere.

The impulse toward denialism must be fought if conservatism is to prosper in a century when environmental issues will assume an ever greater profile on this increasingly hot, parched, crowded planet. Otherwise, the movement will come to be defined--and discredited--by its noisiest cranks and conspiracists.

Founder Graham Hill always stressed that TreeHugger should be non-political, but in the face of the conservative and republican positions on climate change, its causes and remedies, (and the endless personal attacks and imprecations against Al Gore in comments) it became almost impossible to do so.

I wish we knew of more moderate conservative voices like Jonathan Kay's or David Frum's on this issue. There may well be, but in the USA today they just get drowned out.

More in The National Post

More Conservative Views on Climate Change:
Quote of the Day: David Frum on How To Get Off Oil
The Economist's Conservative, Level-Headed Take on Climate Science
Political Myth: Trappers, Hunters, & Fishers Are Against Strong Climate Legislation