Commentary, Environment

Gary Johnson: Being Good Stewards Over the Environment in Which We Live

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pursuing my greatest physical endurance challenge yet: Cycling 2,745 miles along the Continental Divide from Banff, in Alberta, Canada, down the Rocky Mountains and through my home state of New Mexico.

It’s just been me,  carrying my own sleeping gear, food, water… and bear spray.

Being in nature and testing myself tells me something about myself.

It also tells me something about our environment: It’s a natural treasure, and it is something of which our states and our nation must be good stewards.

In Washington, the political right and left are having the wrong fight about the wrong environmental subject. The left is agog that President Trump would dare to leave the sanctified “Paris Accord” – which didn’t do anything, anyway, to protect the environment.

And meanwhile, President Trump is talking about preserving the long-term prosperity of a coal-mining industry that, for better or worse, is being evolved out of existence. In large part, this evolution is market-driven exercise because of the externalities that coal-burning imposes on our environment.

Protecting our environment for future generations

Just as we would protect our nation against a foreign aggressor, we must stand firm and protect our environment for future generations, especially those designated areas of protection like our National Parks. And that’s why the Environmental Protection Agency should not be dismantled: it should be reformed with a refocus on its true mission of safeguarding the environment from polluters of our water and air.

In a healthy market economy, consumer and innovators make personal choices that are not driven by regulations or special interests.

And yet at the same time, I don’t deny that the climate is changing and that man is likely contributing to that change.

That’s not the most important question, however.

The critical question is whether politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective – or even effective at all. Rather than imposing ideological faith-based tests about climate change, our entrepreneurs and our national government needs to be on the hunt for the “Plan B” alternatives that will protect against harm and gradually lead to reductions in carbon emissions.

Every day of my long bike ride I have thought about our environment.  This debate on climate is critical to all of us – for reasons far more significant than a bike race. And that’s why it’s time for everyone to ratchet down the global warming fear-mongering a notch or two. Let’s find common-sense solutions and technologies that will power our economy into the future. We should do this without throttling the entrepreneurial innovations that are the very things we need to substitute polluting energy for advanced and cleaner energy in the future.

(National Park Service photo of Spirit Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park by Derek Van Melle)



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