Thursday, January 22, 2009

Environmental Fantasy, pt II

The world goin' one way, people another. - Poot, The Wire

I'm not going to get too far about any particular topic on this blog without talking about the political consequences. For the last week or so, one theme has been that the situation isn't as bad as it looks for conservatives and conservative ideas, even as the Republican party is far out of office as it's ever been.

The more I think about it, environmentalism is a two-edged sword. The motivations behind are going to weaken a little bit because everybody's attention will be taken by our various non-environmental crises. There was a famous poll taken last year which claimed that the American people weren't willing to pay one cent per gallon gasoline tax to solve or alleviate global warming (at a time when gas was over $4/gallon).

But precisely because environmentalism operates at a quasi-religious level, the attitude shift will be slow. What's worse, contra David Frum, Rod Dreher and others, it can't be coopted either for the same reason. Even if we wanted to, we can't do the environmental agenda like we could build a bridge or a jobs program. And because a fair bit of the Republicans' poor standing has to do with a credibility crisis, it's not a good time to promise things we can't deliver on.

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