A political giant stands poised to become the talk of
the environmental movement, and his name
might raise some eyebrows.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and longtime
friend and conservationist Terry L.
Maple have co-authored A Contract With the Earth, a
new Johns Hopkins
University Press book that
attempts to refocus the environmental debate on the
principle of common commitment.
The School of
Advanced International Studies and the JHU Press will
co-host the book's launch
today in Washington at an event to be held at 5:30 p.m. in
SAIS' Kenney Auditorium. Free and open to
the public, it will feature a talk by Gingrich, who will
answer questions from the audience afterward.
Gingrich will be introduced by Scott Barrett, director of
the school's International Policy Program.
The book, released today, spells out the need for
ushering in an era of "bipartisan
environmentalism." While acknowledging that liberals and
conservatives do not see eye to eye on many
issues, Gingrich and Maple argue that environmental
stewardship is a mainstream value that
transcends partisan politics. The authors believe that most
people are weary of the legal and political
conflicts that only serve, in their estimation, as
roadblocks to effective environmental conservation.
The book, which includes a foreword by renowned
scientist and Pulitzer Prize winner E.O.
Wilson, has already garnered praise from the heads of such
organizations as the Nature Conservancy
and the Wildlife Society. It found a home at JHU Press due
to Maple's connection with Vincent Burke,
a friend and senior editor at the Press, and Gingrich's
desire for the manuscript to go through a peer
Gingrich, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
from 1995 to 1999, is widely heralded
as the chief architect of the Republican Party's Contract
With America. He was first elected to
Congress in 1978 and served the Sixth District of Georgia
for 20 years.
A former environmental studies professor, Gingrich was
the founding chair of the West Georgia
College chapter of the Georgia Conservancy and championed
efforts to create the Chattahoochee
River Greenway, protect the wild tigers of Asia and
establish the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
National Marine Sanctuary. In 1998, the Georgia Wildlife
Federation named him Legislative
Conservationist of the Year.
He has authored 14 other books, both fiction and
Maple is president and chief executive officer of the
Palm Beach Zoo and professor of
conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of
Technology. He previously served as president
of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and was president
and CEO of Zoo Atlanta from 1985 to
2003. He was co-editor of the book Ethics on the Ark: Zoos,
Animal Welfare and Animal Conservation.
Maple says that the two want leaders from both parties
to put environmental issues on the
agenda and find common ground. This book is a call for
that, he says.
"In many ways, these are the biggest issues of the
century, and we need to get on with facing
them," he said.
Maple describes the book as positive, optimistic and
unique in its approach.
The authors write that America has lost its position
as environmental leader of the world and
needs to reclaim that role.
Specifically, the book details how technologically
savvy environmental entrepreneurs can and
should be the cornerstone of environmental solutions, and
that a proper balance needs to be made
with government regulations and incentives, which the
authors say must be dramatically increased to
achieve workable and broadly supported environmental
It also argues against what they call "environmental
panic" and embraces the concepts of
thoughtful cooperation and problem solving.
Editor Vincent Burke says that A Contract With the
Earth is aimed at a general audience and at
people on either side of the political spectrum.
"It's for those who have an open mind on what the
solutions to our environmental problems
might be," Burke said.
Burke acknowledges that readers might be very
surprised to see the extent of Gingrich's
background on environmental issues.
"His involvement on these issues goes back to his
earliest days in politics," Burke said. "He
almost single-handedly saved the Endangered Species Act and
was a big proponent of the Hawaiian
In fact, Gingrich stresses in the book that there is
nothing inconsistent about being a
conservative and a conservationist.
Maple agrees that readers will probably learn a lot
they didn't know about the former House
The book tour will feature dates in Atlanta and New
York City, and Gingrich is currently lined up
to promote A Contract With the Earth on NPR and The
The book, priced at $20, will be available at all
major bookstores and through the JHU Press
To attend today's event, RSVP to 202-663-5648.