Townhall.com

by Bob Barr

It is the end of the world, and progressives are dancing in the streets. If this seems a rather curious, if not bizarre response to a fast-approaching global calamity, you probably do not understand today’s “progressives.”

This week’s #ShutDownDC global warming demonstrations have been less a protest than a public exhibition of costumes, dance moves, and pet political causes, many of which are only at-best tangentially related to environmental stewardship. There were LGBT activists gyrating in the streets as confetti rained over them. There were Black Lives Matter advocates and assorted anti-capitalists. Most notably, of course, there were plenty of cameras to capture the pageantry. You would hardly know mankind was only a few “impossible burgers” away from global calamity.

Farcical is the only way to accurately describe this circus of a “protest.” No mature and rational person would view the menagerie and think to himself, “You know, this event convinces me that I must do more to protect the environment.” 

Fundamental changes to public policy, much less sweeping cultural shifts, requires years, if not decades, of hard work – marshalling data, building coalitions, and developing long-term strategies and workable tactics; with the entire endeavor predicated on clearly defined and realistic goals. Ideally, policy changes occur in tandem with private sector advancements. 

In contrast to the mainstream media’s treatment of the week’s climate change protests as a serious, if not game-changing event, it appears to be more of an opportunity by many participants to see and be seen; an undertaking where the more outrageous the antics, the greater social credibility one gains in the eyes of one’s peers. 

Contrary to the Left’s stereotypical view of conservatives, most conservatives are strong conservationists — hunters, boaters, anglers, and outdoors-types who are passionate about protecting the places they love and enjoy. There are a number of low hanging, but nonetheless effective environmental policy options that would enjoy support among conservatives.  These include expansion of natural gas technology and uses, removing regulatory red tape that keeps costs for alternative energy investments prohibitive, and strengthening property rights to protect citizens and communities against illegal pollution. Yet, because such ideas are not sufficiently radical to be included in the “Green New Deal,” they remain of little, if any, interest to the Left. 

Another reason such practical proposals are unattractive to climate change progressives, is that they do not deliver the emotional kick liberals use to determine “value” to the movement. Moreover, such realistic proposals do not have as their goal the deconstruction of America’s capitalist framework, which is the true aim of rabid environmentalists.  These radicals use global warming as a smokescreen for their more extreme goals, as easily seen in the many anti-capitalist signs and banners on display during this week’s street theater.

This is the ugly truth behind the climate change farce.  Democrats by and large do not so much care about the environment as wanting to be perceived as caring about it. This is why they favor the “all or nothing” approach to reform; which affords them the luxury of not having to make inconvenient lifestyle changes, while pursuing extreme measures cloaked in the message of “reform, or we all die.” 

When climate activists back up doomsday rhetoric with confetti-laced street dancing, and when their movement’s loudest climate advocates – whether in Washington, DC or Hollywood, California – refuse to lead by example with basic lifestyle changes, what value is there in coming to the table with them to parlay?

Instead, conservatives will find more success in taking individual responsibility at the local level for environmental stewardship and conservation. They should continue to support private sector innovation (and policies that foster such innovation) for ways to make our energy consumption cleaner and more efficient; whether that be expanded use of natural gas, ever-cheapening solar energy, or something completely new. 

In spite of the best efforts by New Age Democrats to kill-off the private sector, it remains the best hope for our environment and our future.  This is the case even if Elon Musk fails to inspire the same street-dancing enthusiasm as does the prospect of moving Americans back to a pre-industrial agrarian economy in the siren name of “progress.”