What If There Is…?

Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, has petitioned the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to drop its efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.   

As the Attorney General sees it, we don’t need to do anything to deal with climate change.  It ain’t happening.  The big risk is that people might respond to the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  According to Cuccinelli, “We cannot allow unelected bureaucrats with political agendas to use falsified data to regulate American industry and drive our economy into the ground.” 

If climate change were really a threat, then how we fuel our cars and generate electricity would have to change.   The blindly rigid approach is that change is bad, so change nothing. 

A conservative approach, in contrast, would seek to reduce risks, rather than to bury one’s head in the sand and just hope the science turns out differently.  In this approach, high-risk threats would not be ignored until an unacceptable event actually occured.  That’s why we spent massive amounts of money preparing for war with the Soviet Union, why we put smoke alarms in our house, why we buy insurance for our cars – just in case. 

Pretending war and accidents can’t happen, so we don’t need to do anything, is not conservative.  Pretending climate change can’t happen, so we don’t need to do anything, is foolish. 

Whether “proven” or not, there is clearly a risk of global warming.  Virginia in particular would be affected, if sea level does rise.  Norfolk could be covered by storm surges in routine Category 3 hurricanes, threatening our ability to maintain the Navy’s facilities for warships there.

The “do nothing, it ain’t real, magnify minor flaws in the science” head-in-the-sand approach is not a conservative strategy; it is the high risk approach. 

Conservatives should be asking “What should we be doing to reduce risks, in case climate change will happen…”  That conservative approach to threats was represented clearly in the 1984 Reagan TV commercial, What If There Is a Bear.

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