Review: A Contract with the Earth

Article excerpt

Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple. A Contract with the Earth. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. xv, 222 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-8018-8780-2 (cloth) US $20. Printed on acid free paper that is at least 30 percent post-consumer waste.

A Contract with the Earth is about a new kind of environmentalism, a broad, inclusive approach to thinking about and solving environmental problems. It invokes an entrepreneurial zeal, public-private partnerships, executive leadership, and collaboration between industrial and environmental stakeholders. The book is not a step-by-step plan for implementing the contract, but a more generalized plan that presents five platforms, for example, recruit a generation of well-trained scientists and engineers to address environmental issues, and ten commitments, such as retire or rejuvenate old technologies. While the book encompasses mainstream, democratic values, examples are provided incorporating green enterprise and entrepreneurial environmentalism.

The authors, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999 and former environmental studies professor, and Terry Maple, president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo (Florida) and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, call for an entrepreneurial form of environmentalism that would serve our country, economy, and earth. Gingrich was a guiding force of the Contract with America, a document credited with helping the Republicans gain a majority of seats in the 104 th Congress. A Contract with the Earth is a title meant to attract attention, only this time Gingrich and Maple combine respect for the natural world with mainstream values of the American people, for example, by suggesting that conservation cannot succeed by charity alone and should be designed to appeal to self interest.

There is an overriding confidence in the creativity of the American people, open democratic societies, and market-based conservation. …