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July 24 2017

Why Environmentalists Aren't More Popular with Voters

by Charlotte Hays

When President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord (which were largely ineffective--but that's another story), the environmental movement "reacted with near-apocalyptic fear and fury." Most Americans either approved of the president's action or were not overly concerned.

In today's must-read, demographer Joel Kotkin argues in the Daily Beast article that instead of having a collective melt-down, environmentalists would have been better served by trying to figure out why so many Americans are indifferent to their cause.  What are they doing wrong?

Kotkin, who appears not to be a fan of the president,  nails it: Trump was able to run on policies that environmentalists hate because environmentalists advocate absoluist policies regardless of the consequences for many Americans. Kotkin writes:

In the end, the greens and their wealthy bankrollers may find it difficult to prevail as long as their agenda makes people poorer, more subservient, and more miserable; this disconnect is, in part, why the awful Donald Trump is now in the White House. Making progress on climate change, and other environmental concerns, remains a critical priority, but it needs to explore ways humans, through ingenuity and innovation, can meet these challenges without undermining what’s left of our middle class and faded democratic virtue.

One reason environmentalists are blind to this harm is that their movement has become almost a religion with absolutes that must be believed, regardless of what happens to actual human beings. Kotkin explains:

Not long ago, many greens still embraced pragmatic solutions—for example substituting abundant natural gas for coal—that have generated large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than celebrate those demonstrable successes, many environmentalists began pushing for a total ban on the development of fossil fuels, including natural gas, irrespective of the costs or the impact on ordinary people.

James Lovelock, who coined the term “Gaia,” notes that the green movement has morphed into “a religion” sometimes marginally tethered to reality. Rather than engage in vigorous debate, they insist that the “science is settled” meaning not only what the challenges are but also the only acceptable solutions to them. There’s about as much openness about goals and methods within the green lobby today as there was questioning the existence of God in Medieval Europe. With the Judeo-Christian and Asian belief systems in decline, particularly among the young, environmentalism offers “science” as the basis of a new theology.

The believers at times seem more concerned in demonstrating their faith than in passing laws, winning elections or demonstrating results. So with Republicans controlling the federal government, greens are cheering Democratic state attorney generals’ long-shot legal cases against oil companies. The New York TimesThomas Friedman has talked about dismissing the disorder of democracy as not suited to meeting the environmental challenges we face, and replacing it with rulers like the “reasonably enlightened group of people” who run the Chinese dictatorship.

Indeed, after Trump's pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, many environmentalists cited China, a world polluter and a totalitarian state, as a leader in environmental concerns because it remains in the accord.

Enronmentalists seem to have become more dedicated to practicing a quasi religion without regard to human costs. I particularly love Kotkin's take on carbon exchanges so beloved of Al Gore:

In the manner of Medieval indulgences these mega emissions-generators claim to pay for their carbon sins by activism, buying rain forests and other noble gestures. Hollywood, as usual, is particularly absurd, with people like Leonardo di Caprio flying in his private jet across country on a weekly basis. Living in Malibu, Avatar director James Cameron sees skeptics as “boneheads” who will have “to be answerable” for their dissidence, suggesting perhaps a shootout at high noon.

Kotkin says that California, which has imposed severe land and water-use regulations that especially harm blue collar workers,  is "the cutting edge for green soft authoritarianism." Kotkin points out that these policies don't bother the affluent but have caused many poor and middle class citizens to move into what is now called "energy poverty."

Many environmentalists seem unable to understand that,  while none of us wants to breath polluted air, we want practical solutions and will not knowingly vote for poverty. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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