CAP’s Bracken Hendricks attempts to make the case for addressing climate change in the right’s own terms:
I worry that conservatives’ lock-step posture on climate change is seriously out of step with their professed priorities. A strong defense of our national interests, rigorous cost-benefit analysis, fiscal discipline and the ability to avoid unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty will all be seriously compromised in a world marked by climate change.
In fact, far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.
When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet.
This is all true, but the problem is that conservatives’ nonchalance and outright denial of the risk of global warming doesn’t contradict their approach to economic, health, or military risk: it mirrors it.
Conservatives are only risk-averse in theory – in practice, their operating principle is to grab a buck and score a political point whenever they can and damn the consequences. Not only that, but if global warming can’t be fixed using their toolkit of tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for everyone else, or invading someone, they really can’t be bothered.