Meet the #EcoRight! In this series, we profile republicEn members across the country: conservatives, libertarians, and independent thinkers who recognize the seriousness of climate change and support pragmatic solutions.
Cyndi Berck is an editor and writer, as well as a public policy analyst, lawyer, historian, mom, and grandma. Her professional work focuses on environmental economics and sustainable development, including climate issues. Once an active Democrat, she is now a member of California’s Common Sense Party. She believes we need pragmatic, consensus solutions to a number of urgent problems.

When and why did you first start caring about climate change?
I’ve been aware of air pollution since I was a kid who couldn’t see the mountains in Los Angeles. Since both smog and atmospheric carbon come from fossil fuels, it’s a continuation of the same concern: the need to power modern life without a heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

What worries you most about climate change?
My 86-year-old mother said, with tears in her eyes, “My grandchildren are going to see food wars.” It’s already happening. Climate change is impacting water availability for all purposes, including agriculture. It is affecting food production directly and indirectly. Many wars, natural disasters, and refugee crises can be traced directly to climate change.

How well do you feel your conservative values mesh with climate action?
I’m a liberal-leaning centrist. I appreciate the fact that traditional conservatism includes the idea of conservation. My knowledge of environmental economics tells me that market-based solutions are the best strategy.

What would you say to Republicans who still deny climate change is a problem?
Look at the evidence. 

“My 86-year-old mother said, with tears in her eyes, ‘My grandchildren are going to see food wars.’ It’s already happening. Climate change is impacting water availability for all purposes, including agriculture.”

How would you address policies coming from the left such as the “Green New Deal”? Do you think we offer a better solution?  
Progressives chose the wrong time to attack the fossil fuel industry. I agree with some of their positions, such as preserving the Arctic wilderness. However, picking on natural gas is not a good idea – it’s much greener than coal. Then Russia attacks Ukraine, and suddenly it became obvious that the world still needs fossil fuel. We do need energy independence, including ample strategic reserves of petroleum. But energy independence should include renewable sources as well. Our national defense will be stronger if we have multiple energy pillars.

Also, nuclear power needs to be part of the solution. I know at least one climate scientist who picketed against nuclear power in his youth but now sees it as a necessary evil. I’m not naming any names!

What could the GOP do to make climate action more appealing to the public? What needs to change within the party?
The party needs to reassert its rightful place as the party of a strong national defense, the rule of law, individual rights, fiscal prudence, and responsible stewardship of national resources. Then, it can argue for the great potential of green innovations to build prosperity.
Who are some Republican leaders who you feel best represent the EcoRight?

  • Bob Inglis! 
  • William Weld
  • Tom Campbell (now leading the California Common Sense Party). 
  • Catharine (Cathy) Baker. She was my former representative in the State Assembly. I believe she is now serving on the Cal. Fair Political Practices Commission.
  • And, of course, the former “Govinator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Are you confident in America’s ability to fight climate using market solutions?
America can succeed in anything that involves innovation. 

What about this movement makes you feel optimistic for the future?

  • Faith activists are coming together with the mantra of stewardship of our planet. 
  • Business leaders recognize that green technology will aid long-term profitability and that natural disasters and conflicts caused by climate change are bad for business. 
  • China has implemented serious efforts to reduce coal use; because Chinese people are dying from their terrible air pollution, China’s incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are aligned with their public health concerns. 

Anything else you’d like to share?
My late husband, Professor Peter Berck, was one of the economists who showed that the reductions in energy costs due to California’s bipartisan climate initiative would benefit California households and businesses in the long run. Our then-Democratic household had a good feeling about the Republican “Govinator.” I’m honored to continue a small part of Peter’s work.

See more Meet the EcoRight interviews here

Have a suggestion for who we should feature next? Drop us a line.