In regard to the environment, Stephen Colarelli argues that conservatives are liberal, and liberals are conservative (Colarelli, 2002, p. 104). To draw this conclusion, he first explains both ideologies by pointing out their different attitudes toward social traditions and human nature. Meanwhile, he depicts typical features for each ideology as the key reference to compare their reverse viewpoints on the environment. In this case, the major conflicts Colarelli exhibits are of economic-or-ecological interest, as well as invisible-or-visible-hand dominance (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105).

Regarding Colarelli’s argument, the strongest point lies in the fact that conservatives are eager to develop the natural environment to seek the maximum economic prosperity. However, liberals prefer to minimize the development of natural resources to prevent considerable side effects of modernization (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105). From this perspective, he points out many aggressive initiatives by conservatives, such as increasing the development and utilization of natural resources. As an evolutionary psychologist, he claims that conservatives favor “wise use” or “multiple use” as a human’s natural calling, which mirrors the survival of the fittest in accordance with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105; Darwin, 1859, p. 162). Thus, he bridges the bounds between economic promise and survival necessity to indicates the desire of conservatives to conquer the natural environment. On the other hand, decreasing the regulation and restriction on environmental development is the compelling argument of conservatives. Although, they usually adopt strict legislation to social behaviors individually and socially to “keep evil actions in check” (Colarelli, 2002, p. 104). Colarelli’s powerful points not only compare the abnormality on both ideologies with their established images, but also deliver the logical thinking and critical requests from both sides. For example, in his demonstration, conservatives tend to be too active to notice the interconnections of the whole picture, while liberals take a “go-slow approach” to achieve the eco-friendly management (Colarelli, 2002, p. 104).

This strongest statement, nevertheless, can be the least convincing standpoint in terms of human nature and systematic thinking. Colarelli emphases the “self-interest” and market-orientation are conservatives’ top concerns on the environment while liberals focus more on non-profit regulations (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105). However, it is also undeniable that liberals become more inclined to regulate environment development is mainly because of “self-interest”-centered mindset when they realize the benefits of pro-environmental behaviors. In other words, liberals focus more on human-interest in the long run than conservatives. Considering most eco-technology cost more money, if liberals put environment concern ahead of the money issue, they will not keep enough balance before they “check the evil action” (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105).

Furthermore, Colarelli claims the blindness of conservatives in the face of ecosystems as a whole (Colarelli, 2002, p. 104). In contrast, conservatives raise human-interest plans to “harvest” the “wise use” or “multiple use” of the environment can be the blueprint of sustainable pattern concerning the big picture of economic and ecological systems (Colarelli, 2002, p. 105). Developing the environment does not necessarily mean destroying the circumstance. It is too evident to ignore the liability of industrialization in the 21st century, especially after the publication of Silent Spring in 1962 by Rachel Carson. Hence, it is inadequate to claim conservatives’ unawareness of ecosystems. Still, it takes a great amount of federal, local and private financial support to contribute to various pro-environmental programs. To develop the environment is not the problem; the problem is how to do it in an eco-friendly way in order to achieve the green interest. Colarelli’s conclusion anchors on classical conservatives and neglects the connections between tradition and the new normal, as well as natural and social economies.

In the future, as stated by Colarelli, the implications of environmentalism will shed more light on public education upon the environmental issues to reinforce more pro-environment behaviors among citizens since it holds the concept that “the masses are ‘environmentally illiterate’” (Colarelli, 2002, p. 106). Moreover, more attention and pressure will be drawn to the government’s “visible hand” to help develop a more sustainable and healthy economy to avoid the tragedy of measures that are “too little and too late” (Colarelli, 2002, p. 107). Hopefully, with the Fourth National Climate Assessment comes the new hope which “assesses the science of climate change and variability, and its impacts across the United States” (“Fourth National Climate Assessment”, 2018).


  • Colarelli, S. M. (2002). Conservatives Are Liberal, and Liberals Are Conservative—On the Environment. Independent Review, 7(1), 103. Retrieved from
  • Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or, The preservation of favored races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray.
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program. (2018, November 23). Fourth National Climate Assessment: Executive Summary. Retrieved from