The Greening of Conservative America

The Greening of Conservative America

The Greening of Conservative America

The Greening of Conservative America

Excerpt

"CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALIST" is not an oxymoron. That it is now widely believed to be a contradiction in terms is the reason for this book.

Conservatism is a venerable political philosophy that was developed for our time by such sterling minds and principled personalities as Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Frank Meyer, Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss, and Willmoore Kendall, to name just a few of the earlier authors. These scholars were not themselves "environmentalists" in today's sense, for most of their works were produced in the years before our environmental problems became acute. But if you read their works, you will find that the principles of the conservative political philosophy that they developed clearly support environmental protection. That is, of course, what you would expect. Conservatives ought to be in favor of conserving things: our cultural heritage, our civilization, our basic political and social institutions that established our freedom—as well as our natural heritage, our natural resources, and our planet.

Unfortunately, over the past thirty years and more, conservatives have contributed very little that is positive to the analysis of our environmental problems or to the formation of environmental policies. Conservative scholars have taken virtually no part in the public debate over these issues. A search through the contents page of, for example, Modern Age or Intercollegiate Review will yield virtually nothing on conservatism and the environment. (Both journals recently published articles of mine, so there is apparently no reluctance on the part of the editors to cover the environment. But conservative scholars have produced almost nothing on the subject.) The one exception at the scholarly level is a small group of libertarian economists who advocate "free market environmentalism." Much of this work has been done by two organizations headquartered in Bozeman, Montana: the Political Economy Research Center (PERC) and the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE).

At a more journalistic level, the Rockford Institute supports environmental protection in general, but it ranks very low among the institute's priorities. Its journal, Chronicles, on rare occasions carries an article on the environment, but it also gives space to anti-environmentalists. National Review comments on practically every subject under the sun, but on the environment you will find virtually nothing beyond a few shallow pieces that merely attack some fringe group of . . .

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