Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Making sense in South Carolina

At the beginning of this month, a poll in South Carolina - an important presidential primary state - gave this result:

A majority of Republican voters in South Carolina believe global warming is occurring, but is a problem people can resolve, according to a new survey.... It found most respondents support a cap on carbon emissions and incentives for companies to stay below the carbon pollution limit...."This says that a flat denial of global warming no longer has any credibility,'' Ayres said. "The debate now is over what we do about it.''....Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic party chief in South Carolina, said the Republican survey shows that former Democratic Vice-President Al Gore's message has gotten out....."The nation owes a debt of gratitude to Al Gore for talking about it to begin with,'' Harpootlian said. "Even Republicans are beginning to be concerned.''....Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, recently said he would appoint a climate change panel in South Carolina to study the effects of global warming and provide a plan to attack the problem at the state level.

Maybe not too surprisingly, we've just had an Op-Ed by Governor Sanford in the Washington Post, arguing for some kind of conservative approach to addressing global warming, something that isn't denialism and isn't Gore-lite. I'm not sure quite what the approach is, except that it seems serious, not a Jonah Goldberg-esque 'let's build swimming platforms for drowning polar bears' approach.

He may be arguing that conservatives should take the lead in creating a culture of personal responsibility to address our environmental impacts, recalling the anti-materialist, "respectable Republican cloth coat" beliefs that Nixon talked about in his Dr. Jekyll moments. That would be a great challenge to come from the conservatives. Let's see what the Republican presidential candidates have to say about it when they come to South Carolina.

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