January 19, 2005 [LINK]

Conservation and conservatism

Tuesday's Washington Post had an op-ed column about bird and wildlife conservation issues by Pat Patterson, of the Fairfax Audubon Society. He mentioned "Pale Male," the famous Red-tailed hawk in Central Park, as well as the Cerulean warbler, which is suffering from a loss of woodland habitat in the eastern states. (For some reason, I have seen them in the Blue Ridge more often than some other warblers that are supposed to be more common.) I was pleased to learn that First Lady Laura Bush is a birder, and that the President "claims that he is managing habitat on his ranch for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler," which has a very restricted range in central Texas. I heartily concur with Mr. Patterson's call for Bush to "support $100 million in funding for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act." As a first symbolic step at the outset of the President's second term, it would be nice to see a bird feeding station set up on the back lawn of the White House.

To me, it is just common sense that conservatives ought to be more attuned to conservation issues, but reality and popular perception both suggest otherwise. Though the Republicans' record on environmental issues is hardly as bad as some hysterical activists such as Robert Kennedy, Jr. would suggest, there is, sad to say, some reason for the Republicans' shaky credentials. Business lobbyists often get regulations waived on economic grounds, and if past Washington Post articles are correct, campaign contributions may be part of the equation. If President Bush really wants to broaden the Republican Party's base, he should broaden the definition of what conservatives want to conserve, and make it clear that good stewardship of the bounty of God's creation is a duty of all Americans.