That’s where Newt Gingrich says he got his inspiration for his green leanings in his book A Contract with the Earth. He’s launching the PR blitz this week, and you can catch him on the more conservative news outlets Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I am all for Mr. Gingrich propounding a conservative green ideology. His traditional constituency is not exactly known for their involvement in the fight on global warming, except for the fight on if it exists. A Pew study shows that Republicans are vastly more likely to think that global warming, man-made or not (most think definitely not), isn’t a serious problem. If Gingrich can present the problem and propose a solution that will be palatable to his people, “the other half” of the country could be engaged in this debate. Their input on all this is crucial to creating any workable solution.
Though I haven’t read the book to appreciate all it’s subtleties yet, in excerpts he espouses bi-partisan action on the environment. Then on his book website he attacks liberals for being so bossy about the environment that annoyed conservatives ignore the problem just as a reflex. Yes, he directly blamed liberals for why conservatives ignore this problem.
He supports economic development along with environmental protection, and wants to use tax incentives and prizes to encourage development on green technologies. We’ll get tax credits for energy savings and tax credits for efficient cars and tax credits for renewable energy! And we’ll develop the oil fields (very, very efficiently and cleanly, of course) in Alaska, since this is a good source of clean energy? Actually I’m confused on that point. But it is sure that Newt proposes that Government is not allowed to do anything like regulate emissions or make rules on pollution or anything- they can define what a “healthy environment” is though, and businesses and private groups will decide how to meet those standards on their own.
So that’s his plan, and bits of it are a pretty good idea. I’m absolutely not convinced businesses and corporations, who have incredibly large economic incentives to continue doing business exactly the way they’re doing it, will go pro-efficiency and rah-rah-sustainability for a bit of a tax break. That’s going to have to be a massive tax break. And even then the government will probably need to issue minimum standards, check their progress, and issue compliance deadlines for it to be acted upon. Environmentalism without requirements for compliance is just rhetoric.
My favorite quote from his page on “Energy and the Environment”:
It is clearly possible to combine human progress with biodiversity. There are more trees in Georgia today than there were in 1900 or 1940. The very increase in wealth in America made it possible in 1895 to found the New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) and save the American bison from extinction…The greatest dangers to biodiversity on the planet today are poor people cutting down tropical forests for money and killing endangered species for meat. Wealthy people can afford to protect the forests and protect endangered species.
I wouldn’t say a close shave with the bison absolves the enormous species loss of the 20th century, and it’s a shame that the unruly poor are working so hard to destroy the rest. I’m hoping this is just an unresearched paragraph and an incomplete thought on the relationship between poverty and the environment, but it did allow me a bitter chuckle today.
Grist.com offered a review and comparison of Gingrich’s plan (most of which is already espoused by those nagging green liberals) back when the book was first announced.