Gingrich drops skepticism on global warming

No, you don’t need to see your ophthalmologist for a new prescription, you read the title correctly. According to the Boston Globe, “In a Capitol Hill debate about global warming touted by its moderator as a “smackdown” between former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Gingrich praised Kerry’s recently released book about environmentalism, acknowledged that global warming is real, and offered what amounted to an unexpected apology for his party’s inaction on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions.” Such comments mark a dramatic shift in opinion, if not what some might categorize as a “flip-flop.”

“I’m not going to stand up here and defend our failure to lead,” said Gingrich, who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and plans to release a book in the fall burnishing his environmental credentials. “There has to be a green conservatism.”

“We have now passed the tipping point of that argument,” he said yesterday.

Despite the consensus that global warming is in fact real, the debate highlighted the profound differences between the policy solutions proposed by the former House speaker and the current Senator. Kerry chastised Gingrich’s call for voluntary reductions in carbon emissions:

“That’s like saying, ‘Barry Bonds, go investigate steroids,’ ” shot back Kerry, who favors a government-imposed limit on emissions and a system that would allow businesses to buy and sell credits entitling them to release a certain amount of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

“There is no single environmental crisis that has been met in the United States voluntarily,” Kerry said.

And if the about face couldn’t be more surprising, Gingrich is even set to publish a book about his views on the environment with a very greenpeace/nrdc/wwf-sounding title, “A Contract with the Earth.” But Gingrich isn’t the only Republican who cares about such issues. The Globe also spoke with Jim DiPeso, policy director of Republicans for Environmental Protection, who said that the former speaker’s change of heart “shows that the broader climate debate may have crossed a significant threshold…Here you have the leader of the Gingrich revolution up against the prototypical Boston liberal, and they did not disagree on the fact that human-induced climate change is happening”

Coupled with the “Geo-Greens” like James Woolsey, perhaps the GOP is on it’s way to become the ‘green old party.’ Nah, that might be a little too optimistic….Forgive me for being a cynic, but Gingrich is a shrewd politician and he knows that for the Republicans to have a chance in 2008, they need to at least appear to care about climate change. Hence, the espousal of policies like ‘voluntary emissions reductions,’ which uphold the illusion of being ‘green’ but will accomplish little.


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