You are worried about what man has done and is doing to this magical planet that God gave us. And I share your concern.  What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live….

This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.

Those 1984 words from President Reagan serve as the basis for one of the new ads in a radio campaign launched by Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP):

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Sounds great, until you remember that President Reagan almost single-handedly killed America’s global leadership in renewable energy (see “Who got us in this energy mess? Start with Ronald Reagan“).  Yes, he did help save the ozone layer, as REP points out:


“With talk radio personalities constantly peddling an anti-stewardship message under the guise of conservatism, it is a good time for a reminder about President Reagan’s legacy as a good steward of our environment,” David Jenkins, REP’s vice president for government and political affairs, said.

We especially want people to remember Reagan’s leadership in negotiating the Montreal Protocol treaty, which began the phase-out of ozone depleting chemicals and has done more to safeguard the earth’s atmosphere than any other law or treaty ever passed,” Jim DiPeso, REP’s vice president for policy and communication, said.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Too often, Reagan is not remembered for his environmental accomplishments. The political left refuses to give him the credit that he deserves, while some on the right ignore his environmental legacy because it doesn’t fit with the image of Reagan that they cultivate to support their own agendas,” Jenkins said.

Reagan certainly deserve credit for that important achievement (see “Lest We Forget Montreal“).  He did assert leadership and overrule his advisers, as Richard Benedick, Reagan’s chief ozone negotiator, explained in a 2005 Senate hearing:

Nevertheless, after contentious international negotiations, compounded by unexpected late controversy from within the U.S. administration, a strong control treaty was signed in Montreal in September 1987.  The treaty signing attracted worldwide media attention, and it was hailed in the United States Senate as “the most significant international environmental agreement in history.”   President Reagan became the first head of state to endorse the Montreal Protocol, pronouncing it “a monumental achievement of science and diplomacy,”  and the treaty was unanimously ratified by the Senate.

Had Reagan followed the advice of his hard-core anti-environmental advisers, who knows what might’ve happened to the ozone layer?

But taking on CFCs didn’t require taking on the fossil fuel industry or promoting clean energy — two things Reagan could not abide.  Thanks the modern conservatives, the chances are essentially nonexistent that we’ll leave our children the world “either as we found it or better than we found it” (see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“).

Certainly modern conservatives no longer try to conserve vital things that might matter to their children and grandchildren like fresh water or natural resources or soils or fisheries or livable climate.  And Reagan often talked a good game, as these two other REP ads make clear:

If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.

Yet, as the LA Times reports:

Some environmentalists thought the ads were an April Fools’ joke. “They must believe, as author Gore Vidal put it, that we live in the United States of Amnesia,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

No matter how you look at the ads, REP appears to be wasting its money based on where they are running them:

REP’s ads began airing during the Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck shows on the following stations: WGIR (610 AM) Manchester/Nashua, WGIN (930 AM) Rochester, WQSO (96.7 FM) Portsmouth, WKBK (1290 AM) Keene, and WNTK (99.7 FM) New London

C’mon!  What’s the point of running ads during Limbaugh and Beck, who air nonstop disinformation on climate science and the clean energy bill?  You couldn’t possibly move the needle on their listeners:

Assuming these ads could work anywhere, they only makes sense for whatever persuadable independents and former Reagan Democrats there are in media markets that aren’t saturated with disinformation.

But what do you think?  Do these ads make sense, and if so where should they be run?

Related Posts:


Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.