Opinion

Environmentalism needs to be a bi-partisanship issue

Article by Ty Smith, Staff Writer

The climate is changing, and there’s absolutely no doubt about it. This climate change is caused by human activity, and there’s no doubt about that either. The entire scientific community agrees nearly unanimously about this reality, and that level of agreement among them is rare.  With all this established, the only question now is this: what do we do to stop it?

At least, it should be.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of climate change, the topic is still treated as political football in Washington. The Democratic party wholeheartedly acknowledges the problem and that action is required. In response, many Republicans refuse to acknowledge that climate change exists, and if it does, it’s not the fault of humans. It’s an understandable reaction in our increasingly tribalized society, and with many issues it doesn’t matter if one party takes a stance just to spite the other. Climate change is too important to be used as a wedge issue.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t even always this way. Just a decade ago, a campaign ad was ran across the nation. It opened with videos of melting ice sheets and belching smokestacks, and was followed by a soothing narrator praising a candidate for standing up to President George W. Bush and “sounding the alarm on global warming.” This 2008 presidential campaign ad wasn’t ran for Democratic darling Barack Obama, but for Republican candidate John McCain.

McCain recognized the urgency of climate change in 2008, and at that time it wasn’t strange for a normal Republican to agree with him. It’s only been in the decade since that campaign that views have become more divisive and partisan. Denying human caused climate change is the opposite of the natural Republican view, but they adopted it anyways in order to oppose a strong Democrat in the White House. Republicans are the natural conservationists. Most hunters are Republican, and they have a vested interest in keeping nature alive and healthy. They have an innate love of the land, and are probably the most knowledgeable about how pollution and waste hurts it.

I may be a little naive in thinking that this can change soon, but with a Republican in office, many on the right may feel less attached to their anti-environmental views. I think there’s hope going forward that climate change may once again become a bipartisan issue, and that change may already be happening. Senator John McCain recently reiterated his belief in climate change, and a senior member of the party wields sizable influence.

Going forward, both parties should start with the issues closest to Republican interests. We need to start with bills that protect  wildlife, keep streams pure and forests free of trash. After this, we need to move to roadsides and cities. After that, we can slowly make our way to the bigger issues, like drilling, fracking, and dirty energy. It will be difficult, and there will be pullback, but with the pressure of the Republican voter, it can be accomplished. Slowly but surely, we can establish the environment as a bipartisan issue once again.

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