Green Conservatism: A New Way of Thinking About the Environment

Do you remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when people began thinking differently about welfare?

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals actually woke up to the fact that the usual left-right screaming matches weren’t doing any good. Lots of us came to understand that the welfare system we then had was actually harming many of the people it was supposed to be helping. The result of this new way of thinking was welfare reform.

Eleven years later, the effects of this change are nothing less than transformational. Welfare rolls have declined by more than 60 percent. And a million and a half fewer children are living in poverty.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about the environment.

My Latest Book: A Contract with the Earth

This week marks the launch of my new book, A Contract with the Earth.

I wrote it with my friend Terry Maple, who was once the head of Zoo Atlanta and is now president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If I had to boil down the message of A Contract with the Earth to just a couple sentences, I would say it’s this:

The left doesn’t have the last word on how we protect our environment — and neither do the folks who say we should sit back and do nothing.

The fact is, according to polling done by my grassroots organization, American Solutions, 95 percent of Americans believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God’s creation for future generations. Eighty-two percent said they believe so “intensely.”

Over the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation and pro-centralized-government advocates become the definers of environmentalism.

The left would have us believe that to be an environmentalist you have to believe in catastrophic threats, dramatic increases in government power and economically draconian solutions. Such a big-government bureaucracy, trial-lawyer-litigation and excessive-regulation “environmentalism” does a poor job of protecting the environment while it erodes individual freedom, destroys jobs and weakens our country.

The time has come to propose a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

The time has come for the development of a mainstream environmentalism as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation environmentalism. You could call it “green conservatism,” but it’s really the mainstream environmental approach that has worked so well in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt epitomized this approach when he said, “The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method.”

A Better Way to Protect God’s Creation

A Contract with the Earth, which is available in both book and audio form, describes a different — and better — way to protect God’s creation.

Take this quick quiz:

  • Do you believe a healthy environment should be able to coexist with a healthy, growing economy?
  • Do you believe investments in science and technology will generate solutions to most of our environmental problems?
  • Do you believe incentives should be offered to encourage corporations to clean up the environment?
  • Do you believe corporate and private philanthropy is essential to the success of a global and environmental movement?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you’re probably in the environmental mainstream. You may even be a green conservative.

I’ll have a lot more to say about A Contract with the Earth and new ways of thinking about protecting our environment in the weeks and months ahead. For now, you can read more about green conservatism at

You can buy my book here.

Join Me in Atlanta and New York City

Terry Maple and I will be appearing in person this afternoon in Atlantic Station in Atlanta and on Thursday evening at the New York Public Library. Details on these two events are below:

Atlanta, Ga. — Tuesday, October 30, 2pm-4pm
A Forum on the Environment: Contract with the Earth
More info here.

Atlantic Station
Central Park
B/T East & West District Ave’s
Atlanta, Ga.

New York City, N.Y. — Thursday, November 1, 7:15-8:45pm
A conversation with Jeffrey Sachs.

More info here. Purchase tickets at Smartix

New York Public Library
Celeste Bartos Forum
Humanities and Social Sciences
5th Ave & 42nd Street
New York, N.Y.

And don’t forget to go to to see where Terry and I will be appearing to talk about A Contract with the Earth.

Insanity in the Empire State: The Feds Won’t Stop the Madness

You’ve probably heard of New York Democratic Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s misguided plan to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants in this country illegally.

What you might not have heard is that the federal government is now on board with the insanity in the Empire State.

The Associated Press is reporting that this weekend the federal government “cut a deal” with Gov. Spitzer to allow the creation of a three-tiered license system in New York — with licenses going to illegal immigrants.

Here’s what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the AP: “I don’t endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice.”

Federal law allows states to make the choice to offer driver’s licenses to people in this country illegally?

Federal law allows states to compromise our national security and the integrity of our elections?

Federal law allows this?

Then the federal law needs to be changed. Now.

Calling on Congress to Prohibit States From Issuing Driver’s Licenses to People in America Illegally

Polling shows that 72 percent of registered New Yorker voters oppose giving New York state driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Congress should pass a law — immediately — that supports the common sense of New Yorkers and Americans across the country and prohibits states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

The President should tell Congress and the American people that he would welcome such a change in the law.

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) should allow a vote on the change in law to go forward immediately.

It’s time to stop the Spitzer plan and the federal government’s complicity with it. It’s time to stop the madness.

Satellite Photos Show Suspected Syrian Nuclear Sites Wiped Clean

Finally, I want to tell you about another development with great implications for our national security that occurred this week.

Commercial satellite photos taken last Wednesday show that the suspected nuclear weapons production site in Syria bombed by Israel last month have been quickly “wiped clean” by Syrian authorities.

According to analysts, Syria’s quick clean up of the bombing sites is a tacit admission of guilt for something they have always denied: That they were, in fact, attempting to build nuclear weapons until Israel stopped them.

In August, satellite photos of the site showed a tall square building on the site. But the site had been wiped clean by last week. Look at these images from the Institute for Science and International Security:

The ISIS website has more pictures and analysis. And former UN Ambassador John Bolton had an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. If so, this is 1,000 words worth of proof that we live in a dangerous world. And unless responsible democracies act to protect our security, it’s only going to get more dangerous.

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — The always insightful David Broder devoted a column last week to the importance of Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal’s election as governor of Louisiana. As Broder points out, Jindal’s victory is significant because he ran — and won — as a conservative reformer. He joins what Broder calls a “phalanx of successful conservative governors across the Southeast” — governors such as Haley Barbour (Miss.), Bob Riley (Ala.), Sonny Perdue (Ga.) and Charlie Crist (Fla.). You can read the whole article here.

P.P.S. — You may recall that my two daughters — Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman — and some of their friends are walking a marathon in Athens, Greece, next week to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation. The Miami Herald has written a story about my eldest daughter Kathy, who lives just outside Miami and has arthritis herself, which you can read here. If you’d like to donate to the Arthritis Foundation, click here.