I keep a special Twitter list of hardcore liberals and green groups specifically to stay in tune with the vagaries of the environmental movement, and as presidential debate season wrapped up last night, there appeared to be a growing consensus among the eco-lefties that their pet issue of climate change has been given an undeserved back seat in this election cycle. Heck, forget the back seat — this is the first time climate change hasn’t been featured as a specific campaign issue since 1988, via the NYT:
…The presidential debates are now over, and not once did climate change surface explicitly as an issue. This campaign is the first time that has happened since 1988, and environmental groups – and environmentally minded voters – are aghast.
“By ignoring climate change, both President Obama and Governor Romney are telling the rest of the world that they do not take it seriously, and that America cannot be expected to act with the intensity and urgency needed to avert catastrophe,” Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, said in a statement. …
Well before Monday’s final campaign debate, environmental groups dubbed the situation “climate silence” and even set up a Web site in an effort to force the issue into the campaign. …
In the second debate, the candidates spent more than 10 minutes talking about energy policy, yet the “c” word never came up. Candy Crowley of CNN, who moderated that debate, explained on the air afterward that while she knew that “you climate change people” wanted the subject raised, she felt that most voters preferred that the debate stay focused on the economy.
Despite President Obama’s consistent defense of his plans to bring about the green-energy jobs and economy that he somehow miraculously knows are “of the future,” the core policy of which implies the need to address climate change (but in practice seems a bit more attentive to the concerns of donors, crony-friends, and lobbies), the environmentalists don’t seem to feel that he’s expressed the level of openness and urgency for which they’re looking. He was supposed to be the great leader and champion of ‘receding oceans and a healing planet,’ but his campaign pretty firmly made it clear that they didn’t intend to make a big election issue out of it, and as for Mitt Romney’s plan to pretty much just allow free enterprise to do its own thing in the energy sector? Forget that.
Once more, I unleash my free-market-environmentalist plea into the ether: Contrary to what the greener-than-thou crowd might think, small-government free-market conservatives aren’t actually any fonder of dirty water, polluted air, diminishing resources, or catastrophic natural disasters than you are, nor are they so stubbornly convinced that planet earth is a static place immune from any changes in temperature. But the fact that the environmental movement always seems to be driven by big-government, social-control enthusiasts armed with gobs of egregiously prejudiced, agenda-driven “climate science” that almost unfailingly points to diminished economic prosperity as the only possible solution, it’s no wonder people get just a mite skeptical.
The sooner everyone realizes that wealthier societies are healthier societies; that free enterprise and private property are better suited to environmental quality than bureaucracy; that competition and technological innovation mean that we can become both richer and cleaner; that people just care more about the environment only when they have the luxury to do so; and that, above all, people respond better to freedom and profit initiatives than they do to command and control, the more the whole idea would be. I know that takes the “we must protect mother earth at all costs and decrease the harmful human population”-fun out of things, but there it is. These self-fulfilling prophecies of gloom and doom are just plain counterproductive.