A Contract with the Earth
A bold rallying cry for conservative environmental leadership.
Appealing to America’s core conservative readership and defying conventional thinking, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and eminent conservationist Terry L. Maple posit that the values of conservative America are aligned with the principles of conservation and “entrepreneurial environmentalism.” Saving the earth is not—and cannot be—a partisan issue. The authors outline a ten-point Contract with the Earth that promotes ingenuity over rhetoric, maintaining that the expansion of “green business,” new technologies, and environmental economic incentives will be the defining opportunities for the leaders of the next generation.
An inspiring call to action, A Contract with the Earth offers a vision of the future that is both hopeful and achievable.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whether we like it or not, humanity has assumed responsibility for the welfare of the earth and all the noble creatures that share it. The scale of human civilization, the volume of our economic activity, and the power of science and technology have made us shapers of much of the earth. The power to shape leads inevitably to a responsibility to wield this power wisely and carefully. America, as the world's sole superpower, is obligated to provide environmental leadership at a time when so many world leaders are wringing their hands at the sheer enormity of the task.
Americans know that shaping a healthy environment is the one challenge that eclipses all others. Without a green and productive Earth, clean air to breathe, and healthy streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, life as we know it cannot survive. But where is America's environmental playbook? And who has vetted the principles that will form the foundation of our strategy and the metrics by which success or failure can be measured? Who has the proper balance of courage and expertise to lead? A Contract with the Earth offers a new approach to the challenges of the twenty-first century, encouraging our citizens to accept the responsibility of global environmental leadership and to overcome our nation's troubled history of vacillation and withdrawal when the opportunity to lead beckons. We offer this preamble to A Contract with the Earth as a platform to frame our commitment to renew the living earth.
Advancing with Confidence and Optimism
These five principles guide our Contract with the Earth. Set forth in the next chapter, the contract consists of commitments that help to define an evolving strategy for protecting and enhancing the natural world long into the future. Adhering to these principles and commitments, we anticipate a nation more comfortable with the obligations of world leadership. The nation's confidence is uplifted by our advanced technology, a tested work ethic, optimism, and an unmatched entrepreneurial ''can-do'' spirit.
We understand that our commitment to renewing the natural world requires value judgments based on some standard of quality. We cannot discuss these issues without judgments of this kind, but we also know that standards of quality ultimately rest on objective and accurate quantitative measurements that are independent of values. We agree that science gathers data in a rational, systematic, testable, and reproducible manner, as biologist Robert Lackey has recently asserted, and we affirm his contention that scientists should be sensitive to the boundaries between science and value judgments. Lackey's warning to policy makers is worth repeating:
Call our hand when you observe us overstepping our role as scientists and slipping into stealth policy advocacy. Scientific information is too important to the resolution of vital, divisive, and controversial ecological issues to allow some scientists to marginalize science through its misuse.
For our part, we readily acknowledge that values have played an important role in formulating this Contract with the Earth. We take our stand without hesitation. Quantitative measurements of biodiversity, ozone, lead, mercury, forest cover, fish populations, and polar ice all stand as objective indications of environmental quality. Where to draw the line on quality is the challenge that policy makers face daily. We depend on accurate scientific data to guide us, but it is ''we the people'' who will ultimately decide how best to achieve a sufficient and sustainable quality of life.
We recognize that a contract is both a binding agreement and a serious long-term commitment. To this end, we envision a nation of mainstream environmentalists whose commitment to safeguard the earth is unassailable. It is time for a bold initiative on behalf of the natural world, dedicated to a common cause and a bridge to green prosperity; it is time to establish and embrace a Contract with the Earth.“[A] manifesto challenging conservatives not just to grudgingly accept, but to embrace, the idea that a healthy environment is necessary for a healthy democracy and economy.”
—The New York Times
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