Protestors organize in downtown Kalamazoo as part of the 2019 Global Climate Strike.

Protestors organize in downtown Kalamazoo as part of the 2019 Global Climate Strike.

Beginning this fall, Western Herald is giving a voice to members of WMU Democrats and the WMU GOP to present their side of the argument. To read WMU Democrat member, Ivana Goncin's opposing column, click here.

Climate change is a reality. There is no contesting the science that proves a changing climate is a serious threat. And for real, long-term solutions, conservatives and Republicans need to be a part of the conversation to find consensus on what policies will protect and sustain our environment.

The Republican Party has led on environmental issues for generations. Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of the United States Forest Service and support of national parks was the first step towards conservation of natural resources at a federal level. Most of the major environmental reform legislation of the 1970’s, including the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, occurred during President Nixon’s administration.

Conservation is conservative. Protecting America’s precious natural resources is a core conservative value. While escalating partisanship and polarization has created division on what was once a unifying issue, young conservatives are increasingly demanding climate action from Republican officials and are looking at innovative ways to reduce pollution, curb carbon emissions and promote sustainability.

There are key differences in how conservatives and progressives view climate policy. Curbing carbon emissions should go hand in hand with expanding the economy. Corporations and the energy sector must be allies in achieving environmental goals, not demonized. In order for actual reform, there must be a national consensus with all voices heard, and actual reform will not be implemented if the far left continues dominating the conversation. 

Conservative solutions to climate change begin with an All of the Above energy approach, where renewable energy competes on an even playing field with oil and natural gas. And while many on the left, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, ignore or propose banning nuclear energy, it is evident that nuclear is the only sector that can produce enough energy to become a viable alternative to oil while reducing carbon emissions on a mass scale. Environmentalists who disregard nuclear energy are simply not serious about combating climate change. 

This summer, I had the privilege to participate in a fly-in sponsored by the American Conservation Coalition, where over 50 conservative students from across the country met in Washington, D.C to meet with legislators and executive agencies to advocate for an all of the above energy strategy and show Republicans in Congress that this is an important issue to all young people, not just progressives.

I met with Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Kalamazoo, and who has recently joined the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, reaffirming his commitment to finding common-sense solutions to environmental issues. As left promotes unrealistic proposals like the Green New Deal, it is up to conservatives to generate real solutions that utilize technology, innovation and America’s entrepreneurial spirit. In hijacking environmental issues, the left has used the climate crisis to justify socialist policies that have more to do with growing government's power than actually protecting our environment for future generations. 

The environment didn’t used to be a partisan issue. We’re hoping that both parties in Congress can find common ground, and that Republicans will reclaim our party’s heritage of effective leadership on environmental issues.

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