It’s clear that the environmentalism and loving “the great outdoors” are Stuff White People Like. Every year there are articles complaining how few “people of color” went to America’s national parks, and a Green party is represented in most European parliaments. Something appeals to our people about protecting the natural world and keeping it healthy for generations to come.
There’s a catch: The Left has been allowed nearly to monopolize this issue. Except for the occasional conservative who cites Theodore Roosevelt, the Right makes little effort to join forces with environmentalism. This is an unfortunate legacy of how conservatism fought the Cold War. As a “big tent” coalition against communism or anything that smelled of it, the Right stood against the hippies and their Marxist professors, their pacifism, and their flower power. It saw protesting over the environment as the work of left-wing rabble. But that doesn’t mean the issue is one of the Left. No one on the political spectrum can escape questions of energy and environment.
Conservatives oppose environmentalism because protective regulations cut profits and distort markets. They require a bigger, more intrusive government, which makes the capitalist wing of the anti-communist coalition scream. But so too does Trump’s pro-white populism, and without it there could not have been a Republican president.
Conservatism, as expressed through the Republican party, is overwhelmingly a white cause, and this is being recognized more broadly. President Trump won the election largely because he flipped Rust Belt states with above average white populations. Environmentalism should likewise be embraced as a conservative, nationalist, populist cause. While the hotbeds of liberalism are all in that Clinton Archipelago of mostly coastal cities, conservatives tend to live in the suburbs and in the rural interior. These typically white voters are literally closer to the environment than much of the Democrat base. There’s something ironic about the inhabitants of dirty, crowded, diverse, liberal cities being the most prominent voices in environmentalism.
Preserving the beauty of the land is not an inherently liberal cause. The health of the environment is closer to conservative and nationalist Republicans than to liberal Democrats, who can’t see anything green unless they drive for an hour into the countryside—which is populated with people they loathe anyway. For whom do they wish to save this environment? Trump Republicans should embrace environmentalism, not only to broaden the voter base, but because it is good, nationalist and conservative policy.
It shouldn’t be a hard sell, either. There is a nationalist-conservative tradition of men like Theodore Roosevelt, who thought overhunting would despoil the land. Today, overdevelopment and pollution are the major threats. Our natural commons needs stewardship; it needs future-oriented management to ensure it will still be there for our descendants.
Environmentalism can also appeal to Christian conservatives, since the Bible enjoins the faithful to be stewards of creation. Looking after the environment is thus traditional in a religious and a Republican sense.
Real conservatism—or conservation—requires taking care of something that will bear fruit long after you are gone. Anyone who just wants to collect rents, dispense spoils, and live off the accumulated capital of past generations is a wastrel, not a conservative. If we treat the land we’ve inherited like a savings account rather than a checking account, then we will be able to pass it on to our posterity. We should treat the environment just as we treat our racial and genetic heritage: as a treasure for all future generations.
Any opposition would probably come only from the purely capitalism-minded, deregulatory wing of conservatism. But should we really ignore the impact of business on the environment just so private companies can make a quick buck? Is that America First? Is that good for the white interior? Is that good for these Trump voters who live closer to the environment than the liberal urbanites, who are just virtue signaling about places they have no connection with? These are important questions for conservatives and nationalists.
Today, environmentalism suffers both from a lack of support from the Right and from its marriage to the Left. Despite their professed “green” policies, liberals are often strongly in favor of mass immigration. Because immigration inflates the population with no regard for its equilibrium with the environment, it is probably one of the least “green” of all policies. Adding millions of non-native people year after year has a terrible effect on water and energy usage, waste disposal, urban sprawl, traffic congestion, etc. Silicon Valley companies may make their headquarters energy efficient, but the California created by the Democrats they donate to will be an energy nightmare. Liberals are too committed to Big Diversity to be proper stewards of the environment. Environmentalism has no future in the hands of the Left.
Left-environmentalism also opposes nuclear power even though it is probably one of the greenest alternatives we have that isn’t dependent on favorable weather. Nuclear plants produce essentially no greenhouse gas, and nuclear power is a more efficient than burning fossil fuels. Its only major drawbacks are waste management and security—but the power grid should be secure anyway.
We must find ways to be efficient without being filthy. We are already halfway there; just compare China’s industry-driven toxic smog with our government-mandated automobile fuel efficiency standards. What good is accomplished by fighting for our nation if we destroy our lands and rely on non-renewable and polluting energy? If we aren’t facing the future, in which direction shall we face?
Unlike conservatives, nationalists and populists must offer a true embrace of, well, conservation. Focusing only on the economy or the Constitution while neglecting demographics and the environment is a failure to embrace the real challenges of our times. We have already gone through a phase of reckless pollution and exploitation. There are parts of Britain that never recovered from the Industrial Revolution. The same is true for parts of the American rust belt.
Today we have new opportunities to redefine energy policy, protect our national interests, and be stewards of our country in every sense so that posterity may reap what we have sown. We must seize these opportunities.