Books et al.ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Why conservatives abandoned conservation

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Science  09 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6415, pp. 647
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2324

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Summary

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump suggested that, if elected, he would roll back environmental regulations, open public lands up for natural resource extraction, and pull the United States out of the Paris Accord, calling global warming a "hoax." Once in office, he followed through on this campaign rhetoric with a speed and intensity that was greeted with cheers by most Republicans in Congress. The irony is that the major environmental laws that today's Republican Party seeks to weaken were widely championed by Republicans of an earlier era. What caused the shift? In The Republican Reversal, James Turner and Andrew Isenberg focus on three characteristics of the Republican Party that changed over time: (i) a shift from viewing environmental issues as urgent to viewing them as alarmist and exaggerated; (ii) a shift from relying on scientific research and expertise to viewing these entities with suspicion; and (iii) a shift from embracing a central role of government in addressing environmental problems to viewing regulations as a threat to economic growth, individual freedom, and free enterprise.