I finished A Contract with the Earth, by Newt Gingrich and Terry Maple. What interested me in my latest reading was the biography of Newt at the end of the book. Among other things, it states the following:
"Since his days as a college professor in western Georgia, where, in the early 1970s, he was an environmental studies professor, he has been involved in a variety of environmental initiatives. He was the founding chair of the West Georgia College Chapter of the Georgia Conservancy. He has championed various environmental causes, including efforts to create the Chattahoochee River Greenway, protect the wild tigers of Asia, and establish the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary."
This tells me that Newt has long been concerned about environmental issues, meaning that he wasn't just writing a book about the environment for the sake of writing a book about the environment. He has a record of concern on this issue. On some level, I already knew that, for I remember hearing in 1994 the story of how Newt as a child got involved in the political process by lobbying for a zoo.
So what are my impressions of A Contract with the Earth? I liked its optimism and its accounts of how people in the private sector are working to protect and improve the environment. Whether their efforts are enough, I'd probably say "no", since environmental problems still remain. But at least they're doing something.
I would have liked to have seen more of Newt's critique of current environmental policy. I wrote here a while back, in discussing an NPR story on Newt's Contract with the Earth:
"According to Gingrich, the environmental movement has turned many conservatives off from caring about the environment. He states that, starting in the 1980's, 'the leading environmental groups on the left — particularly the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters — began to equate the environment with litigation, regulation, taxation, [and] bureaucracy[,] and you were either for their solution or you were against the environment.' For Gingrich, the result of liberal 'solutions' was harm to the economy. As an alternative, Gingrich proposes (in NPR's words) a 'science-and-technology-based, entrepreneurial, free-market approach that incentivizes the development of new systems and new technologies that can lead you to a better environment.'"
I wish that I saw more of a discussion of these issues in Newt's book: the history of environmentalism, and how left-wing environmental policies have failed. I did learn some about the history of environmentalism in the book, for Newt and Maple talked a little about the Muir-Pinchot debate. I just wish I saw more about the history of environmentalism.