Joyfully in the Company of Charismatic Wildlife

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. 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.

4 Responses to “Joyfully in the Company of Charismatic Wildlife”

  1. 1 Cameron October 31, 2007 at 10:32 am

    He makes me more angry then happy! If you equate wealth with conservation, you are sooooo far off base, that I couldn’t even construct a rational argument, through the haze of my rage, to hold a discussion! Poor countries cut down their forests to build “rich people’s” houses, grow “rich people’s” cows, and get paid pennies to do so, keeping them poor, and leaving the “rich people” RICH! Like you so eloquently said: “Environmentalism without requirements for compliance is just rhetoric.”!!!!!! If you don’t make someone recycle (even if it’s from shear guilt)…..they won’t! If you don’t force businesses to not exploit labor, environment, resources……GUESS WHAT!!! THEY WON’T!!!! Read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”…..if left to our own devices, we will only advance our economies at the expense of the environment! Look at China…..full stop!!

    Thanks for making me angry this early in the morning MEG!!!!


  2. 2 virescent October 31, 2007 at 10:57 am

    The most insane thing is, he doesn’t make the connection that unsustainable development and manufacturing by larger, wealthier corperations that employ poor people at low wages is the cause of the bulk of pollution and environmental degredation- has been since the Industrial revolution. He jumps straight to it being the fault of the poor. It’s a pretty astounding lack of analysis on his part.

    I’m plugging through the other book by Nordhaus and Shellenberger on a proposed policy for the environment I wrote about- Break Through. They connect wealth to environmentalism in the sense that people who can’t afford to meet their own basic needs don’t have the time or energy to deal with the “bigger issues” (post materialist) like “the environment” and “justice” and such. They talk a lot about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and how people who’ve got their material needs taken care of- “the wealthy”- are then the ones who have the chance to deal with the rest. They connect this to the lack of concern felt by most people about the environment- sure, we’re upset about it, but honestly it’s more important that we have a job to feed our families and a place to live first. They make a pretty strong case that to fight global warming and prmote sustainability, we’re first going to have to address the related underlying issues like global poverty.

    It’s really unfortunate that Newt’s reduced this arguement to “Poor people are ruining the world”. Maybe he gets a more thoughtful analysis in his book? I hope so, but the quality of writing and development of ideas in the excerpt and on his issue websites leaves me cold.

  3. 3 Biking Person October 31, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this… I’m all for bi-partisan action to improve (or slow the destruction / warming / pollution / whatever of ) the environment… and I’m glad that Newt it taking a stand, but I’m kind of horrified at some of his positions. I haven’t read the book either but from your short quotes here it’s kind of as if he’s taking the issue and making it into a way to develop Alaska’s oil fields and give big business another tax break… or at least that’s my immediate reaction. I’ll have to follow up on this, to see where this Eco-Republicanism movement is going.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. 4 millie November 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Could this be work from within the system, using the system’s culture to make change? or am I too optimistic or short sighted?
    I thought of buying the book today – but think I’d rather check it out of the library – then I can give it back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Email Me @ (at )

RSS Photo Albums

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Blog Stats

  • 47,775 hits

Unless otherwise indicated, all content and photos posted on this site are generated by me. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

%d bloggers like this: