The Magazine

Earth to Newt

A Gingrich revolution on behalf of the environment.

Dec 24, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 15 • By G. TRACY MEHAN III
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The Wildlife Conservation Society of New York, for example, has established an endowment of $500 million to fund more than a hundred field conservation projects on four continents, and support conservation operations within its five zoos and aquaria. While Gingrich and Maple praise the Nature Conservancy--the most visible, and largest, private land trust in the world-they might have also noted that private land trusts in the United States now protect 37 million acres, an area equal to 16-and-a-half times the size of Yellowstone National Park, as determined by the Land Trust Alliance in its recent census. Gingrich and Maple see a new kind of entrepreneurship arising that will generate new products, services, and technologies to save energy, restore the land, and clean up pollution. Corporations such as Wal-Mart can transform an entire supply chain by demanding environmentally friendly products for their customers. Costa Rica has developed a huge ecotourism industry, thereby creating incentives and the means for continued protection of its rain forests.

To call the authors optimists would be an understatement. Not for them the darker musings of, say, Wendell Berry; they aim to overcome political strife, transform difficult trade-offs into win-win situations, and save the planet.

G. Tracy Mehan III is a principal in the Cadmus Group, an environmental consulting firm, and served in the EPA under George W. Bush.