60-Second Earth

Why Environmentalism Is Conservative

Have conservatives abandoned their roots as environmental leaders? David Biello investigates

Some politicians seem to have it in for the environment these days. Whether its presidential hopeful Rick Perry denouncing climate science as a quote "cult" or his more moderate peer Jon Huntsman calling for environmental regulations to be put on hold until the economy improves, it's clear that protecting our air, water and other natural resources is no longer fashionable.

But their Grand Old Party actually started environmental protection in the first place. Richard Nixon signed into law most of the nation's landmark environmental laws and founded the Environmental Protection Agency back in 1970.

A bit further back, Teddy Roosevelt founded the national park system, among other efforts to conserve the natural heritage of the United States.

Of course, there are politicians on both sides of the aisle interested in preserving the environment and some conservatives accept the preponderance of scientific evidence on human-caused climate change, like Huntsman. And it's not like Democrats never despoil. Witness the long-standing protection of coal mining by virtually all West Virginia politicians.

But for the moment, some conservatives seem to have forgotten that conservation is inherently conservative.

—David Biello

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