The American Conservation Coalition last week held its first official summit, hosting a vibrant crowd of over 250 people. The organization boasted speakers such as Michigan congressman Peter Meijer, New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu and conservative radio host Jason Rantz.
Cockburn was lucky to attend — and even luckier to partake in the open bar. The many speakers held talks and panels on topics such as China as a player in the clean energy arms race, nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels, and the deregulation of free market economies.
While it is still far from the mainstream attitude in conservative thought, the ACC represents a growing minority of people who recognize climate change as a threat, only without the left’s “doom and gloom.”
At the summit, students rubbed elbows with super PACs, lobbyists, private companies and environmental nonprofits, all working towards a dream of environmental sustainability. Yet they also believe that the solution to climate change lies not in government but capitalism, private enterprise, and grassroots campaigns.
“What’s exacerbating [natural disasters] is climate change,” said Paul Chakroff, a seventy-three-year-old graduate student at the New University of Lisbon. “They’re becoming more intense and more frequent.” Chakroff has been studying climate change and served for many years as the executive director of the Virgin Islands Conservation Society.
This event was advertised not just for conservative environmentalists but environmentalists of all political angles. The speakers expressed a desire to work together towards “common-sense climate solutions,” as articulated by Benji Backer, the president of the organization. Backer stressed the need for common ground and suggested that although the political left and right may be polarized, environmentalism may a path towards reconciliation.
When asked what she learned during the conference, Julia Doe, a twenty-five-year-old physical scientist, said, “I didn’t know how many other conservatives shared that interest and commitment to the environment and combatting climate change.”
Doe’s greener branch of the conservative movement appears to be growing. Cockburn can only hope that he is able to keep his standard of living (and liquor consumption) if all their legislation comes to fruition.