Wednesday 2 December 2009

when conservatives don't like to conserve

The front page story of today's Independent is: 'Cameron hit by Tory backlash on environment'. Inside, there's a piece by former shadow Home Secretary David Davis in which he attacks greens and 'the ferocious determination to impose hair-shirt policies on the public.' Also, interestingly, there's a quote from Tory blogger Tim Montgomerie saying 'climate change really is an issue that can split conservative parties round the world.'

It's not surprising that it should be. In the Daily Dish yesterday, Andrew Sullivan considers why so many conservatives are, in fact, anti-conservation.

I have never understood why it is conservative to take an attitude toward the natural world of how best to exploit and use it entirely for short term benefit ... The conservative, it seems to me, will not be averse to using the planet to improve our lot, and will not be hostile to the forces of capitalism and self-interest that have generated such amazing wealth and abundance in the last three hundred years.

But a conservative will surely also want to be sure that he conserves this inheritance, for its own sake and also for his future use. He will want to husband the natural world, not rape it and throw it away. He will see the abandonment of all values to that of immediate gratification as a form of insanity, if not evil.

And he will want to ensure that his children will enjoy the world as he has.

These are deeply conservative instincts, humble in the face of nature, conscious of the need to preserve for the future, aware of the limits of exploitation.

Sullivan concludes:

And yet nothing is more alien to what now passes for American conservatism than this respect and care for nature. Which is why it isn't really conservative in any meaningful sense at all.

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