What Would Ronald Reagan Do About Climate Change?

This provocative question is raised by a new website, Climate Conservative, that launched today.  The site challenges some of the ideological dynamics about climate change and encourages conservatives to look beyond the echo chamber of talk radio to the facts and history of climate change.  It traces conservative thinking about environmental action through conservative thinkers from Edmund Burke to Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and relates how such thinking should apply to tackling the problem of climate change.

The website features some radio ads that are set to go on air in selected markets this week as well.  The ads highlight steps President Reagan took on international environmental cooperation, remarkably, described in his own words.  For instance, Reagan overruled skeptics about the effects of ozone-depleting chemical to pursue the Montreal Protocol to remarkable effect.  It’s a fantastic parallel to the current need of conservatives to take on climate skeptics and do what’s environmentally and economically right for the country.

A website like this one could not have come along at a better time.  In the Senate, climate change seems poised for a bipartisan breakthrough.  Senators Kerry (D-MA), Graham (R-SC), and Lieberman (I-CT) are moving closer towards release of their energy and climate bill and Senators Cantwell (D-WA) and Collins (R-ME) have introduced a climate bill, while a dozen Republican Senators are already on record as having supported some form of climate action.  As the Senate debate continues, this website should give conservative supporters of climate action more confidence in their position – as well as holdouts some very good reasons to reconsider theirs.

Michael Tubman is the Congressional Affairs Fellow