Anybody who’s ever spent a few minutes with an infant understands that one of the surefire ways to mitigate a tantrum is to engage a game of peekaboo. Wordless cries are transformed into smiling giggles from behind pudgy fingers and blankies. Although a baby is unable to communicate without wailing and tears, a switch is flipped sometime around the seventh month in which, cognitive psychologists tell us, object permanence occurs. Once an infant understands that a protector exists even after seemingly disappearing, the groundwork for language via words—permanent metaphors for fleeting “things” and concepts—accelerates learning and development. The basis for abstract cognition, for communication, and for problem solving all occur at that first moment when peekaboo evolves into hide and seek.
On the issue of climate change, American conservatives stand in our cognitive infancy, somewhere between peekaboo and problem solving. As a result, the discourse has been dominated by ultra-progressives, whose impassioned positions have wandered far beyond the issue at hand. For real, rational solutions, conservatives engage that discourse. We must stop eye-hiding and denying.
Global average sea levels have risen eight inches since 1880: Peekaboo!
Arctic Ice is melting erratically if not disturbingly: Peekaboo!
Saltwater is invading drinking water supplies: Peekaboo!
Tropical weather systems are stronger as they’re intensified by warmer water-fuel: Peekaboo!
As conservatives have lagged—quite honestly, cognitively—to acknowledge the permanence of the crisis, an intellectual vacuum has emerged. Though activist progressives worldwide may have recognized the potential crises sooner, their solutions have provided a set of power-grabbing solutions that aim to, along the way to addressing climate-caused crises, further reshape societies, borders, and cultures.
This crisis is more than a potential affront to our oceans, lands, and coastlines. It is a pending humanitarian disaster: lives will be transformed or lost. It is a pending geopolitical disaster: the world’s resources will be redistributed. Solutions to climate change cannot be addressed on-the-fly lest rule-of-law and the Constitution will come under assault by tyrants who would exploit fear and disorganization.
Protection of life, opportunity, and law are timeless conservative principles.
If we continue to play peekaboo—if we fail to mature, cognitively and politically—with the threats of climate change, we will not only see the permanence of our polar ice caps eroded, we will also witness the erosion of our shorelines. Most consequentially for conservatives, we must resist stress upon our individual rights, our constitutional system, and our national borders.
As conservatives come of age on climate change with groups like RepublicEn.org leading the discourse, the time is nigh to emerge from behind our blankies—to stop ignoring or, worse yet, denying the issue—and for the employment of economically sound, measurable, market-based, constitution-affirming solutions. Some of our most visible, momentum-inducing Florida politicians, like Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL19) and Governor DeSantis are proving to be environmental champions, ready to lead us out from behind our laissez faire and to utilize our invisible hands. Nationally, Mitt Romney, Bob Inglis, and John Kasich stand as traditional, credentialed conservatives who’ve taken to representing the maturation of Republicans on the issue.
Conservatives know that incentives matter. This is no less true for climate solutions than it is for national defense or religious rights. If there are incentives, like tax breaks, that implicitly incentivize carbon emissions, then take away the incentives and capture the true costs—what we call externalities—of pollution. If Americans want to live along susceptible shorelines, don’t reduce the costs by guaranteeing flood insurance, make us pay the true cost for that luxury in the face of known threats. In this solution paradigm, America leads a coalition of like-minded global partners’ participation in similar responses. If they don’t respond organically, we compel them to conform as a cost of access to our consumer market.
Once engaged, and once conservative leadership embraces the impending permanence of a changing global climate, we can advance rational, responsible values, informed by economic literacy and the conservative mantra that, “less government is the best government.”
Floridians, regardless of political affiliation, are in no position to hide behind blankies or, worse yet, to expect that those blankies can replace the fragile atmosphere’s ability to shield us from scorching sun or to soak up the water that rising seas and storm surges threaten.
We must emerge from behind peekaboos, we must mature into cognitive solution-building, we must lead with conservative, American principles to solve global issues.
The survival of our yet-peekabooing children—and our yet-evolving nation—depends upon it.