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The Left has long-claimed environmental policy as part of its progressive platform, and many Americans assume this to be the case. In the first panel of an AEI event on Tuesday and in his new book, "How to Think Seriously About the Planet," Roger Scruton of AEI argued that conservatives are in fact better equipped to handle pressing environmental issues due to their commitment to sovereignty and personal responsibility.
Scruton suggested local environmental policy solutions in the face of top-down approaches and proposed tapping into humanity’s “unexplored motive of oikophilia” — or attachment to the home — in discovering these solutions. Mark Sagoff of George Mason University applauded Scruton for highlighting the esthetic side of environmentalism, but questioned Scruton’s theory of oikophilia in the context of the American tendency toward mobility.
In the second panel of the event, Ken Green of AEI admitted that although he is not optimistic about environmentalists and conservatives compromising, the environmentalist movement is nonetheless informative. Keith Kloor of New York University alleged that although Scruton’s idea of oikophilia has its limits, it should still be considered as a method for encouraging people to care about the planet. Daniel Sarewitz of Arizona State University concluded the discussion by alleging that Scruton’s book is a good starting point for reconciling the alternatives for addressing environmental issues.
The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the political left, which has seen the principal threats to the planet issuing from globalization, consumerism and the overexploitation of natural resources. Philosopher Roger Scruton agrees that the environment is the most urgent political problem of our age but argues in his new book "How to Think Seriously About the Planet" that conservatism is far better suited to tackle environmental problems than either liberalism or socialism. Scruton suggests that rather than entrusting the environment to unwieldy nongovernmental and international organizations, we should assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty.
Scruton and a panel of experts will debate the problem of the environment at this AEI event.
Roger Scruton, AEI
Mark Sagoff, George Mason University
Steven F. Hayward, AEI
Panel: What Environmentalists Can Learn from Conservatives, and Vice Versa
Kenneth P. Green, AEI
Keith Kloor, New York University
Daniel Sarewitz, Arizona State University
Steven F. Hayward, AEI
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Kenneth P. Green is a resident scholar at AEI and has studied energy and energy-related environmental policy for nearly 20 years. An environmental scientist and policy analyst by training, Green’s recent studies include the efficacy of green-jobs programs, drivers of oil and gas prices, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the embedded energy costs in consumer goods and resilient policies to address the risks of climate change. He has just published his second supplemental textbook, “Abundant Energy,” a concise guide to energy and energy policy intended for a college audience. In addition, Green has testified before regulatory and legislative bodies at the local, state and federal levels, including many times before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He was also a designated expert reviewer for two reports by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Steven F. Hayward is the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI and writes on a wide range of public policy issues. He is the author of the “Almanac of Environmental Trends” and the author of many books on environmental topics. He has written biographies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and of Winston Churchill. His upcoming book is called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents.” Hayward is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute and contributes to AEI's Energy and Environment Outlook series.
Keith Kloor is a freelance journalist who covers issues at the intersection of science, politics and policy. His writing ranges widely from conservation biology and energy policy to urban affairs and archaeology. He was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine from 2000 to 2009. During the 2008-2009 academic year, he was a fellow at the University of Colorado's Center for Environmental Journalism. He has contributed feature stories and book reviews to Audubon Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine and Science, among other publications. Kloor is also the founder of collide-a-scape.com, an online blog focused on archaeology, climate change, ecology and journalism.
Mark Sagoff has published widely in journals of law, philosophy and the environment. His most recent books are “The Economy of Earth, 2nd Edition” (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and “Price, Principle, and the Environment” (Cambridge University Press, 2004). He was named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment in 1991 and was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1998. He is also a fellow at both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Hastings Center. The Breakthrough Institute named Sagoff one of its six senior fellows of 2012, calling him, "America's most trenchant environmental philosopher." He is director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy and a professor of philosophy at George Mason University. Before coming to George Mason, he directed the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Daniel Sarewitz explores the connections between scientific research and social benefit and develops methods and policies to strengthen them. His most recent book is “Living with the Genie: Essays on Technology and the Quest for Human Mastery” (co-edited with Alan Lightman and Christina Desser; Island Press, 2003). He is also a co-editor of “Prediction: Science, Decision-Making, and the Future of Nature” (Island Press, 2000) and the author of “Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress” (Temple University Press, 1996). Sarewitz has also written many articles, speeches and reports on the relationship between science and social progress and is a monthly columnist for Nature magazine. Before beginning his current position as director of the Center for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, he was the director of the Geological Society of America's Institute for Environmental Education. From 1989 to1993, he worked on Capitol Hill, first as a congressional science fellow and then as a science consultant to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where he was also principal speech writer for Committee Chairman George E. Brown Jr. Before moving into the policy arena, he was a research associate in the Department of Geological Sciences at Cornell University, with field areas in the Philippines, Argentina and Tajikistan.
Roger Scruton, a writer, philosopher and public commentator, has written widely on political and cultural issues as well as on aesthetics, with particular attention to music and architecture. An author of more than 30 books, his most recent include “How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism” (Oxford University Press, 2012), “Culture Counts: Faith and Healing in a World Besieged” (Encounter Books, 2007) and “A Political Philosophy” (Continuum Books, 2006). Scruton is also a founding editor of The Salisbury Review, as well as the founder of Claridge Press, which is now part of Continuum International Publishing Group. He writes a column on cultural matters for The American Spectator and one on wine for The New Statesman in Britain. At AEI, Scruton researches environmental protection from a cultural and philosophical angle.