Gingrich’s environmental proposals include altering climate with giant mirrors

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich‘s hobby, he says, is studying “dinosaurs and other fossils.” He openly mourned the death of Knut the polar bear.Gingrich believes it is a “false dichotomy” to group policies according to whether they deal with the country’s economic problems or protect the environment.  Instead, he thinks government can incentivize the production of new energy technologies, which would consequently help the environment and the economy by making the country less dependent on foreign oil.

And he is not short on ideas of how to do it. “One generation’s science fiction is the next generation’s practical reality,” wrote Gingrich in “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less,” a book he co-authored in 2008 with Vince Haley.

Here’s a sampling of some of Gingrich’s more interesting environmental ideas:

1) Build “a large array of mirrors [that] could affect the earth’s climate,” to extend farmers’ growing season. He outlined this proposal in his book “A Contract with the Earth.”

2) “A billion-dollar tax-free prize for a hydrogen engine that can be produced at a commercially available price. I think that we should have a substantial prize for developing the first engine that can be mass-produced that gets 100 miles or more to the gallon of fuel. I think that we should have a substantial research program under way for dramatically better ethanol products than corn or cane sugar,” he told Salon.com in an interview in 2007.

3) Disband the Environmental Protection Agency and fire all the people who currently work there. All current employees must go because “I don’t think you can train the current bureaucrats. I think their bias against capitalism, their bias against local government, their bias against economic rationality, is just amazing,” Gingrich explained at a Politico event. Replace it with an agency called the Environmental Solutions Agency and hire a new group of different bureaucrats to work there. (RELATED: TheDC’s coverage of Newt Gingrich)

4) Use more nuclear energy. “If we produced the same percentage of our electricity from nuclear power as the French, we’d take almost a third of U.S. carbon production out of the atmosphere and we’d be 15 percent below Kyoto. It’s also a steady-state energy source, so at night when energy demand drops, the excess could be directed toward producing hydrogen. It’s a much less problematic development than the coal plants that are being planned. I would incentivize dismantling the oldest coal plants and building new nuclear plants. We may be able to get to a clean coal technology, but not in the near future. In the near future nuclear is a much better investment,” Gingrich said in a Washington Post question and answer session following the release of “A Contract with the Earth.”

5) “I’d like to do a study focusing on people who have received heating aid in the past 25 years, and what benefits we would have received if we had instead helped the poor to convert to smart modern technology. Instead we were subsidizing their obsolete dumb technology,” Gingrich said at the Washington Post Q&A session.

6) Get ready for changing climates, but don’t necessarily buy the line that it’s all because of global warming. “As an intellectual who has looked a lot at geological history, I am convinced we should be prepared for shifts in climate,” Gingrich said in a 2006 radio interview. “I am not convinced that the shift in climate is inevitably warmer, and I think depending on what happens with the sun, and what happens to the oscillation of the earth, the odds are equally good in the next 50 years that the next shift will be colder rather than warmer, because when the sun and the earth change, they change at a scale that is much greater than the largest possible human impact on global warming.”

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