Since the recent Gingrich surge, I’ve been skeptical. Skeptical because I have a hard time believing someone who preached the virtues of climate change legislation for more than ten years and even wrote a book on the subject (published in 2007) could so quickly denounce these views as a “mistake.” Then I saw this article from the LA Times. Needless to say, the following certainly doesn’t allay any of my initial concerns, if anything it solidifies them:
Gingrich and Terry L. Maple have something of a sequel in the works to their 2007 book, “A Contract with The Earth,” tentatively titled “Environmental Entrepreneurs.”
The duo’s first book called on policymakers and businesspeople on the right to show they had better ideas for protecting the environment and creating jobs than government did. The new book is a collection of essays by various businesspeople and scientists to be edited and stitched together by Gingrich and, mostly, Maple, a former chief executive of the Palm Beach Zoo.
The author of a chapter on climate change is Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech whose work focuses on assessing the impact of climate change and communicating it to broader audiences, including those traditionally dubious of global warming, like Christian colleges.
The book “requires a good opening chapter that lays out the facts on global climate change, but I would like this chapter to be framed with optimism, not gloom and doom,” Maple said in an email to Hayhoe in October 2007. “All that is needed from you is to provide a sense of what needs to happen. What is the window of opportunity and what does the science tell us about our chances for remediation?”
Like most climatologists, Hayhoe accepts the broad scientific consensus that the climate is changing and that humanity’s combustion of fossil fuels is the main reason for it.
While Gingrich has not run away from “A Contract with the Earth,” he has been hedging on some past stances, especially regarding climate change. He recently told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that he never supported a “cap-and-trade” system for limiting greenhouse has emissions, when in 2007 he said he would back such a scheme if it had tax incentives.
Gingrich also renounced the television ad he did three years ago with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in which he called for action on global warming.
“Well, I’ve said it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve done in recent years — it was an effort on my part to say that conservatives are concerned about the environment — we have better solutions,” Gingrich said of the television ad to O’Reilly.
Gingrich went on to say that evidence of man-made climate change “is not complete and I think that we’re a long way from being able to translate a computer program into actual science.” (Climate scientists point out that computer modeling of climate is complex and has successfully predicted many of the trends the world is now experiencing.)
Hayhoe submitted her climate science chapter in mid-2009 but never heard back from the authors. Maple said the book has been delayed because he has been too busy to focus on it. He said Gingrich is still interested in doing the book and has not asked him to slow walk it. The Gingrich campaign did not answer emails seeking comment about the project.
At this pace, Maple said, his new book with Gingrich would probably be out in 2013, after the presidential election.
Mistake or conviction? Hard to tell these days.