Sep 12, 2017 (San Diego) Al Gore is a conservative. Indeed he is. He is a conservative in the sense that he wants to conserve the environment. Modern day Republicans and some Democrats are not conservative. Theodore Roosevelt, a man who bequeathed the nation the National Park system, starting with Yellowstone, would not recognize modern Republican politics. He would be aghast at seeing what president Donald Trump wants to do with that park system, which is to destroy it.
Many of those of us who understand climate change, and is a national security threat to the United States are conservatives. I embrace that mantle proudly. I am one who wants to preserve the environment for future generations. I am one who knows the current path, chosen by a new rising fascist movement, leads to some serious crisis. It may very well lead to human extinction.
Look into the eyes of a young child. Tell me how much of his or her future you are willing to take away in the name of a false sense of freedom. Freedom is a complex word. It is a concept. Freedom from want and fear, and to explore the wonders of nature and the world is one way of looking at freedom. Freedom to learn, and explore is one type of freedom. Some of this requires the collective, community, and even government regulations meant to conserve the environment and wonder if the natural world. That is the heart of a liberal western democracy. It is also at the heart of what feeds the spirit and enriches life.
Instead these days we worship money above all.
The values of the country are those leading to the accumulation of wealth and material goods. The environment, and the need to conserve what gives us joy and preserves the environment has given way to the worshiping of wealth, fashion, and material goods. Sure, some people still attend church or temple, it really does not matter. But the message from some pulpits is not soul affirming. Nor is it geared towards conservation. It is an empty message, not unlike that of our televisions and modern popular culture. It is the empty message of the I, and how I matter and how material wealth and constant stimulation is what we should seek. It is not even the message of how the family is important, let alone the life of the soul.
Personal responsibility has become a catch phrase for the advancement of the individual and turning away from the community. It has become a cudgel used by modern-day Republicans to attack those who still seek to conserve the environment. Never mind this is a contradiction. Those who seek to preserve are the conservatives of the age and follow the values of community and what is good, long term, for all of us.
It is with little irony that the regions of the country that will be impacted the worst by climate change have adopted this new day hedonism. If their actions did not affect the rest of the country, and the planet, we might not care. If we could wall these states off and let them wallow in their libertarian ideology and it would only affect them, sure. That is not the way this works. Their actions are not just threatening national security, but planetary security. Their selfishness is such, that they do not see how they are robbing the future from their children.
We understand their economic fears. Appalachia, for example, depends on coal. If we leave it in the ground, what will these families do? It is with good cause that this region relies on almost a single product. One that it is rich in. At one time that product was cotton. Now it is coal. A few families control that wealth and have used fear and keeping other industries out, to maintain what once were company stores. Fear of economic uncertainty is powerful.
The southern states, especially away from large, more urban and cosmopolitan centers, are isolated from the world. The traditions and buzzwords of personal responsibility and mistrust of outsiders have kept a caste system of sorts in place. These states are rife with poverty, poor education and lack of job opportunities. They mistrust those with knowledge, and organizations such as the Heartland Institute are doing their level best to insert fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Poor educational systems and religious fundamentalism ensure that these people do not believe in what right now is impacting them, and will continue to impact them for years, decades to come.
This one two punch, from the type of storms that were predicted by climate scientists, could potentially cost the United States a quarter of a trillion dollars. Yet, we have the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, tell us that this is not the time to talk of climate change. Suffice it to say, Pruitt is a climate change denier who sued the EPA during the Barack Obama administration. He works for a man who told us climate change was a hoax.
So how many storms, heatwaves, fires, do we need? Irma was very large. Irma is not unexpected in size or scope from what scientists said was possible. Neither was Harvey, or Katrina, or Haiyan. Sooner or later even Republicans awash in ideology and money from special interests will get it. The question will be…if this will be on time?
History, assuming we do not commit species suicide, will not be kind to these hedonists, seeking money and things above all. Those children, alive today, will be right to demand an account from their parents. They will be entitled to be furious at them. When we could, we refused to act.
However, I am glad to declare that Gore is a conservative, His life’s work is one critical for the future of the species. History will be kind to him and people like him.