Should Conservatives Buy Into "Climate Change"?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Feb 23, 2007 9:17 AM

Yesterday, I wrote that John McCain was further offending the conservative base by going to California and attacking President Bush for not being aggressive enough regarding the environment.  (In fairness, I should also note that Mitt Romney has been all over the map on this issue, too).

It seemed obvious to me that McCain's move in CA was a political mistake -- one more example of McCain going out of his way to stick it to conservatives. 

But then, this story made me wonder if McCain might actually be catching the zeitgeist ...

"A majority of Republican voters in South Carolina believe global warming is occurring, but is a problem people can resolve, according to a new survey."

Now, if this is true -- that the majority of South Carolina GOP voters believe in global warming -- this is a clear sign that times are changing.

Well, this morning I opened up the Washington Post to find this op-ed written by the conservative Republican governor of South Carolina:

"When George W. Bush, The Post and the insurance giant Lloyd's of London agree on something, it's obvious a new wind is blowing. The climate change debate is here to stay, and as America warms to the idea of environmental conservation on a grander scale, it's vital that conservatives change the debate before government regulation expands yet again and personal freedom is pushed closer toward extinction."

(I'm guessing SC Governor Sanford didn't see this survey -- and then write the op-ed -- but I could be wrong) ...

My question isn't whether or not "climate change" is happening. That's another discussion. But I think it's safe to say that the political landscape, regarding the issue, is changing. 

More from SC Governor Sanford:

"I believe conservatives have a window of opportunity, but that window is closing fast."

"First, conservatives must reframe the environmental discussion by replacing the political left's scare tactics with conservative principles such as responsibility and stewardship. Stewardship -- the idea that we need to take care of what we've been given -- simply makes sense. It makes dollars as well, for the simple reason that our economy is founded on natural resources, from tourism and manufacturing to real estate and agriculture. Here in South Carolina, conservation easements are springing up across the state as landowners see the dual benefit of preserving the environment and protecting their pocketbooks."

While South Carolina is known as a very conservative southern state, it should also be noted that it is a coastal state very attuned to the tourist industry.  So I suppose it's possible that this phenomenon is not as pervasive as it might seem. 

... I wonder how the folks in Nebraska, for example, feel about this issue.

So the big question remains: Have politicians like McCain and Sanford merely drunk the environmentalist "kook-aid" -- or are they ahead of the curve?

We report, you decide...