Newt Gingrich is an anti-environmentalist who spreads disinformation and has done more than any politician in the last two decades to thwart a sensible climate policy that includes a major clean technology component, as I have explained. Absent serious regulations, no technology-only strategy can possibly avoid catastrophic global warming (as we should have learned in the 1990s).
Some well-meaning people, like the New York Times‘ first-rate climate reporter Andy Revkin and the great conservation biologist, E. O. Wilson, have gotten taken in by Newt’s new
clothes rhetoric. Why? They don’t know the history of climate technology policy that I and others have written about — and they don’t understand the explicit Luntz/Bush strategy of trying to get political credit on the climate while blocking the crucial regulatory (and technological!) solutions by talking about “technology, technology, blah, blah, blah,” as I put it. I am in 100% agreement with Gristmill’s David Roberts analysis on this.
Gingrich is most certainly NOT part of a “move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy,” as Revkin writes — especially not an imaginary center that Revkin claims includes Bj¸rn Lomborg (!) and Shellenberger & Nordhaus (for a debunking of these folks, click here and follow the various links). Gingrich and Lomborg may not be classic global warming deniers — since they realize denial is now politically and scientifically untenable — which is why I label them delayers. (I will come back to S&N’s ongoing disinformation campaign in a future post.)
Gingrich and his coauthor are not “realists and visionaries” — the phrase Wilson uses in a foreword to their book, A Contract
with on the Earth (you can read the foreword — and, if you’re clever and have a huge amount of time, the whole book — for free if you click here [reg. may be req'd]). I have emailed Wilson, who I don’t know, my earlier Gingrich post. I’ll focus on Revkin, since I do know him and he has a blog where he is fighting back against Roberts (and others) who criticize him.
As an aside, I consider this subject of technology vs. regulations to be one of the seminal climate change issues of our time, maybe the seminal issue of climate politics — so I will continue to devote a considerable amount of ink to it. To engage in this discussion, though, you MUST read Frank Luntz’s 2002 “Straight Talk” conservative strategy memo on the environment and global warming — trying to understand the current climate debate without reading that memo is like trying to understand Christianity without reading the Bible. You should also read Luntz’s early 2005 strategy document “An Energy Policy for the 21st Century” since it echoes the key technology-only strategy.
Luntz figured out years ago what the Newt Gingrich of the 1990s didn’t understand at all — it could be politically dangerous to be seen as opposing all action on global warming. And so we have Luntz’s central strategic breakthrough: