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.