I’m a conservative and am part of the 52% of young Republicans who believe the government is doing too little about climate change.
I haven’t always felt this way, but when I explored the data, I came to look at the issue in a different light. I haven’t changed my ideology—I’m still a Republican—I’ve simply found market-based solutions that align with my dedication to the constitutional ideals I cherish.
Free-market climate solutions predicated on conservative principles are not only effective, but are also the only approach that preserves our unique American liberties. These remedies must be championed at all levels of our government, now more than ever.
My generation has little time for climate denialism. I appreciate many Republicans’ prudence regarding this matter, and their realization that many far-left politicians exploit this crisis to expand their power.
That being said, failing to provide solutions of our own isn’t a winning formula. The GOP’s poor performance in the 2018 midterm elections is evidence of that.
Today’s young people, myself included, feel pressured by the looming consequences of this man-made crisis. We’re the ones who must brave the repercussions of our leaders’ inaction.
Increasingly violent storms push us away from the coasts; the burgeoning U.S. deficit expands as environmental debt skyrockets; and unmitigated environmental destruction stands to irreversibly change our way of life. The climate crisis even threatens the most fundamental building block of society: our children.
Elder generations are torn on this issue: either reject the science or stand up and face it. Even now, venerable conservative climate activists are valiantly challenging those who deny the harsh facts.
My generation, however, is far more unified on where we stand. For years, only the far-left has offered proposals to resolve this crisis, thereby capturing the support of most young people. The solutions they prescribe have only led to disaster in the past, and I fear we may repeat history’s mistakes.
The GOP’s inaction of this issue has driven many of my own friends to ally with the Environmental Left. I cannot blame them. Idleness has become the rot festering within the Republican Party.
Now, millions of young environmentalists are faced with an unfair choice in November’s elections. They can either stand by the free-market ideals that have brought the country such economic success or vote their conscience regarding the climate. The Republican Party, as evidenced by polling data, cannot cling to a platform of environmental negligence anymore.
But all hope is not lost.
The Climate Solutions Caucus and other bipartisan attempts to address climate change have been fruitful, and many Republican lawmakers are aware of the potential support from young voters.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ran on a green agenda. He has supported the restoration of the Everglades, launched initiatives to address red tide, and even appointed a Chief Science Officer and Chief Resilience Officer.
Despite his thin margin of victory, his pro-environment record has earned him some of the highest approval ratings in the country. Towering over his rivals with a job approval rating of 72%, my governor stands as a testament to the success climate-aware Republicans could enjoy.
If the Republicans wants to remain serious contenders in future elections, they need the youth’s support. To get that support, conservatives must follow the DeSantis’ conservationist model and address our concerns about the environment. Otherwise, more and more new voters will continue to turn toward the Environmental Left, drifting further and further from our constitutional values.
Lance Lawson is a senior at Bayshore Christian High School in Tampa and serves as a county youth chair and spokesperson for republicEn.org, which promotes conservative free-market solutions to address climate change.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.