Millennials and Generation Z have been inundated with the notion of climate change as undisputable fact. A March 2019 Gallup poll indicates 67 percent of those aged 18-29 are “concerned believers” in “global warming”. With voters under 35 expected to be the largest voting age group in the upcoming elections, they cannot be written off, but must be engaged.
For decades the left has been promoting a narrative of upcoming climate change catastrophe. Articles warning of impending doom from dependence on oil and capitalistic excesses began appearing regularly in publications like Time and Newsweek in the 1970s. In the late 70s and 80s, politicians like Representative Al Gore Jr. began pushing the narrative that the earth was doomed if fossil fuels weren’t eliminated. Later becoming Vice President, his influence infiltrated the mainstream of the Democrat party. In 1993, Dr. William Halper was fired from his position as Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy after his congressional testimony that scientific data did not support manmade climate change claims. Since then, the left has continued the promotion of the narrative of upcoming climate catastrophe. Their claims have not only remained unchecked and unchallenged but supported by the media.
Remember the image of the polar bear population being at risk from melting ice? Ever wonder what happened to them? — The US Geological Survey found, instead of the 67 percent population decline predicted in 2007, their estimated population grew from 24,500 in 2005 to 29,500 in 2018 – the highest since 1973. Or what about the claim ice would disappear in the North Pole by 2016? Claims go back decades, such as the 1970 claim that oceans would be dead in less than a decade.
Not only do the claims remain unchallenged and protected, but Democrats get even some of the basics wrong. Fossil fuel emissions are regularly referred to as “carbon” by the left, including current Democrat presidential hopefuls. The reality is, CO2, or carbon dioxide, is not just “carbon” and is essential to life. Plants use it in photosynthesis to produce energy, emitting oxygen as a byproduct…essential to humans and animals. Research by Ranga Mynei of Boston University indicates the earth has had greened significantly over the last 38 years, with carbon dioxide emissions being 70 percent of the cause.
Republicans have walked into the trap of fixating on financial cost of leftist energy policies. In response, the left continually insists there is a high cost of not implementing the policies, painting Republicans as “greedy capitalists”. What Republicans lack is discussion of the issue as a whole. Yes, leftist energy policies would impact the price of food and goods; they’re transported using fossil fuels. But the impact is the disproportionate effect on low-income families, due to their lack of resources to shoulder increased costs of food and other necessities — the very people the left claims to care about. At the same time, CO2 is essential for life… plants need it to survive, impacting animals that rely on plants for food (and oxygen), and impacting humans who rely on plants and animals for food (and on plants for oxygen).
For Republicans to engage millennials and Generation Z – they need to take on the issue as a whole, reveal the flaws in claims in an engaging way, champion private sector innovation, and avoid falling into the trap of focusing only on financial costs of proposed policies. Also, emphasize that while stewardship of the environment is important (no one wants dirty air or dirty water), it can be done without destroying quality of life. Besides, eliminating “carbon emissions” would require eliminating all life forms (including animals) that emit carbon dioxide.
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