Conservative Climate Coalition Charts New Course: Conserve Our Climate & Values

I’m a born-and-raised South Carolinian, and I’m proud of my personal conservation ethic. I’m not the only one — I know conservationists of all stripes who, like me, were inspired by childhood experiences playing in the pluff mud, crabbing for Atlantic Blue Crabs in the creeks, and bird-watching with family.

Spanish moss cloaks a live oak tree— a familiar site in the lowcountry. (Photo Credit: Roxanne Turpen)

South Carolina may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about conservation, but the stakes are huge in the Palmetto State: experts believe the Southeast will be hardest hit by the climate-driven extreme weather events expected over the next two decades.

Extreme weather is part of being a Southerner — I remember evacuating Charleston several times during hurricane season over the course of my childhood. However, the past few years have brought new meaning to our concept of extreme weather.

This spring we saw the deadliest and most destructive tornado season ever recorded. At this very moment, Floridians are fighting some of the largest wildfires they have known—just yesterday the governor announced a state of emergency as 310 active fires blaze through the state. Meanwhile, a deepening drought plagues Texas and other southern states, as it has for 8 of the past 12 years.

Thankfully, today’s announcement from former Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) may be the start of a new direction for my home state and region in terms of addressing global warming.  This fall, he will launch a national conservative coalition made up of fellow Republicans who recognize that human emissions are the leading contributor to global warming and that we should be taking steps to stop it.

“Conservatives typically are people who try to be cognizant of risk and move to minimize risk. To be told of risk and to consciously decide to disregard it seems to be the opposite of conservative. What I hope to do is be a part of an effort that calls conservatives to return to conservatism and to turn away from the populist rejection of science,” Inglis said.

Adam Kolton, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s National Advocacy Center, weighed in.

“Former Congressman Inglis’ effort is refreshing. The fact is that there are millions of conservation-minded Republicans who believe in good science and most importantly who believe in doing what’s right for the next generation – for their kids and grandkids. There is a silent majority in the Republican Party who favor a safer, cleaner, more secure energy future based on sound science. We hope this new effort will be a start at making their voices heard.”

Already several congressmen have voiced their interest in joining and shaping a strong coalition to confront global warming, and for good reason: Inglis pointed out that any further delay of action on climate change will only hurt the United States’ chance of leading the global green economy. “We may just press the pause button for the next few years, but China is pressing the fast forward button,” he said.

It’s been said that the pace of the South is slow, but there’s no time to spare to confront climate change and embrace a clean energy future. Bob Inglis’ latest effort to advance conservative values and a conservation ethic has inspired this South Carolinian to look forward to better days ahead.