Dear Internet,

We need to talk.

Not an emotional, talking-point-fueled, ideological, “everyone who disagrees with me is stoopid”, overblown talk. A real talk.

We need to talk about the environment.

For too long there’s been this massive flame war of debate from Facebook to the White House about the environment.

And we get it — many people are very passionate about this issue. They care deeply about our impact on the Earth and how we leave it for future generations.

But before we talk, there’s two things we need to get out of the way.

First: everyone cares about the planet.

Okay, probably not everyone, but most everyone. Left, right, middle — we all want to leave the planet better than we found it. So let’s set that aside for a moment.

Second: yes, the climate is changing.

The Earth is a dynamic ecosystem. It’s changed a lot over the past few billion years and it’s going to change more over the next billions. We are here in a very microscopic moment in time.

And yes, it’s likely that emissions from our cars and factories, as well as deforestation, are having an impact on that ecosystem. But how much of an impact? And how much is that impact related to fluctuations in global temperatures? Remember when “global warming” was the buzzword until the earth cooled and brought us “climate change”? Scientists are trying to figure out what’s going on, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about how our planet operates.

If the real question at the heart of this furious battle isn’t whether we care about the environment or not, or whether the climate is changing or not, what is it?

Here’s what we’re really fighting over:

What is government’s role in how we take care of the planet?

The biggest difference between the environmentalists on the left and conservationists on the right is not the existence of climate change itself. The biggest difference is what actions we should take to care for the planet.

For some of us, protecting the planet means recycling, cleaning up highways, driving an electric car or choosing to shop for environmentally-produced products. For others, it means shutting down the very sources of energy that keep our lights on, like oil wells and coal mines.

There’s a Grand Canyon-sized gap between these approaches. On one hand, people who care are invested in new technologies and innovations that drive progress. This approach results in solutions consumers are eager to adopt. They create value and have a positive impact.

On the other hand, people who care are hammering away, screaming about the end of the world and pushing an agenda that threatens not only to expand massive Washington bureaucracies but also shut down civilization as we know it. They destroy value and end up having negative impacts.

Can we be honest for a moment and admit that there are solutions to help the environment that don’t include industrial age, top-down regulations from Washington? Let’s talk about environmental solutions that are organic, from the grassroots. Solutions like local neighborhood cleanup days. Like Tesla and the Nissan Leaf.

If we’re freaking out, it should be over amazing companies like Newlight Technologies, an innovative company that has developed a method to convert greenhouse gases to plastics.

If we put down the pitchforks for a moment, we can agree on a couple of things:

1. We all have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet.

2. The best solutions aren’t government solutions, but organic and consumer-driven. The free enterprise system has lifted millions out of poverty. It can solve this challenge too — if we let it.

Let’s find ways to make the planet a better home for everyone. That includes being good stewards, looking beyond politicians for solutions, and maybe even showing a little kindness towards our neighbors on this beautiful planet we call home.

Can we do that? Please?

Thanks, Internet. Good talk.

What are your thoughts? Can we be good stewards of the planet without getting government regulators involved? Share your ideas on Facebook.

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