Opinion: Conservative environmentalists — yes we exist!

I am a conservative environmentalist — yes, we exist. The unconscious bias that Republicans are incapable of environmental stewardship continues to disseminate within our society — a presumption built upon decades of fictitious information. As both a sustainability major and political right-winger, I know first-hand the danger this stereotype poses on beneficial climate change conversation. 

Climate change activism is heated in the political arena — for several important reasons — but the convoluted rhetoric against Republican individuals has stalled crucial progress. Throughout my experience as a college student, I have been berated — even called a traitor — for my political standing as a sustainability major. Among the list of insults includes:

“The Republican Party is to blame for climate change!”

“Those conservatives, they never support environmental progress.”

“You voted for him? Yeah, you don’t belong in this program.”

The backhanded narrative regarding climate change needs to end. Pitting one group against another — especially in a multifaceted issue like this one — results in an untrusting atmosphere with absolutely zero resolutions in sight. While I choose to ignore such outrageous accusations, I am fully aware of the inaccuracies woven in these bold statements.  

For instance, there are several Republican based environmental organizations — such as ConservAmerica and RepublicEn — that recognize the anthropogenic concept and importance of immediate sustainability practice. Voting red does not correlate to a desire to dominate the environment, nor does it signify an inability to respect or care for nature and its processes.

Discrimination against the conservative voice is everpresent within the collegiate atmosphere — unfortunately on our UWT campus as well. I encourage professors and fellow students to recognize this narrative, and speak up when conservative students are ridiculed or excluded from significant discussion. Republicans are not the antithesis in the climate change debate — we are simply another perspective based on free market solutions and individual service.

Lack of progress towards a legitimate solution is both frustrating and restrictive — so how can we develop a conversation geared towards interpersonal respect? For one, we need to understand that political affiliation does not affect an individuals capacity to respect the environment. By including varying viewpoints into the climate change equation, it is possible we will see an abundance of positive progress.

The buildup of chaos surrounding the topic of climate change continues to wreak havoc upon our nation. We see it everyday in the news — even personally in our local community — so why not allow multiple voices to join the conversation? Future generations need us to look beyond our blue vs. red mindset and combat the ongoing Holocene extinction event. 

At the end of the day, earth is our home and deserves to be maintained respectfully. Even if you do not agree with the science behind climate change, is it not possible to simply become a better steward? The fighting and accusations amongst ourselves is tiresome, and, in the meantime, our planet continues to suffer. Instead of throwing stones — and choosing to forgo potential political comradery — it is time we band together and fight for one common cause.