Green Living Through Conservatism
By Bruce Walker
July 25, 2011
There are few areas of policy in which the left is more united than “Green” living. The risible projections in the Population Bomb, the mendacious researchers of Official Global Warming, the shrewish propagandists whose lies about DDT condemned millions of poor children to awful deaths, the wistful incantations by Obama about how “renewable energy” will make our lives blissful – all these, and more, are part of modern leftism.
Power, of course, is all the left really cares about. What the term “Green” means in modern political language has roots in conservatism not leftism. The very beginning of environmentalism was the “Conservation” movement, begun by Republicans a century ago. It is the left, not us, who lust for constant flux, endless novelties, pining for an invented utopia.
In fact, if the left truly cared about preserving the environment, reducing carbon emissions, saving the planet and all that glop, then it should wholeheartedly embrace conservative social values. Consider stable and traditional marriage. According to the Census Bureau, 96.6 million Americans over age 18 are unmarried and 31.7 million Americans (27% of the all households) live alone. This trend towards Americans living alone or out of wedlock is rapidly accelerating – and it is destroying the environment.
A stable married couple lives in a single home, has only one set of utilities, illuminates the home with a single lighting system, etc. Adult Americans who live alone or in unstable relationships dramatically increase the need for dwelling space, electrical power, heating and cooling systems, streets and city maintenance systems, and also cars on those city streets.
Moreover, in traditional marriages which reach a level of economic affluence, it is more likely that only one member of the family needs to work, reducing traffic congestion and all the myriad environmental problems of a large and commuting metropolitan population. If Americans married and stayed married, the impact on all those problems which leftists pretend to worry about would dramatically diminish.
Conservatism solves other environmental problems. If large numbers of Americans home-schooled then all the energy which public schools consume, the land schools occupy, and the buses which congest our street could be diminished, or even ended. There are an estimated 130,000 public schools in America – each a vast carbon footprint. Conservatives would replace these polluting education factories with “Green” cottage-industry home schooling.
Conservatives are naturally “Green” in other ways too. When families construct their lives around their church or synagogue, then there is less recreational traveling in cities and when families find fun and social activities in these congregations, the need for other surrogate forms of entertainment – the sort that unchurched people use – drops. In fact, Orthodox Jews, who walk rather than drive to shul, as my wife’s parents did, are the apex of “Green” living (unless we consider the Amish, who eschew large chunks of modern technology and embrace simple, faithful lives.)
In my childhood I had grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were, in every sense of the word, conservative. They were happy living in modest homes. Nearly all had gardens and they canned fruits and vegetables. They seldom watched television (and wondered why anyone would) and they preferred open windows and fans or shade trees and gliders to air conditioning. This living was the natural result of folks who got married and stayed married, who made religion a central part of their life, and who would have turned off anything on television today in about twenty seconds. When they took vacations, it was usually to the lake to go fishing or perhaps to drive across country to visit relatives, and they recreated themselves otherwise little because their lives were mostly work (done cheerfully). Their carbon footprint was incomparably smaller than any Hollywood star or arrogant politician, but it was also much smaller than an unmarried mother or a government bureaucrat in the EPA.
Those who seriously want America to become “Green” will reject political remedies which are doomed to fail and will embrace instead the traditional marriage and family, with its network of relatives and friends, and will encourage the progressive dismantling of our largely useless public education system and its replacement by home schooling or some minor variation of that method, and they will also strongly encourage people to immerse their lives in religious faith.
Much more than just environmental problems would be solved by this transformation. The need for government social programs would almost vanish (as would all the carbon emitting offices and vehicles) and government expenditures could also drop as the need for tax dollars to educate children and implement welfare programs, handle juvenile delinquency and prisons, and a host of other public costs would be supplanted by the private and self-supporting institutions of home and faith.
So why don’t we just do this? Well, this is a matter of personal values held within our nation. Mothers who want to have four kids by four fathers will do so, because laws to prevent that don’t work well. But that does not explain what the “Green” fanatics, who urge us to bike to work and only flush our toilet once a day do not reject this accusatory and punitive approach and, instead, urge what works – better yet, why don’t these “Greenies” show us by example, living in stable homes and having fun at church potluck dinners? The answer, of course, is easy: the Green movement has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with power.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.