Environmental Turkey of the Year

by Bill Chameides | November 22nd, 2011
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 1 comment

It’s that time of year when thoughts teem with turkeys. And it got me thinking …

And the winner is … Hold on. Let’s not put the cart before the, ah, turkey here.

The occasion for this new award is pretty obvious. It’s that time of year when our thoughts tend toward all things turkey. And there’s no dearth of these birds out there. You’ve got your Butterballs and your heritage turkeys. You can get a kosher turkey, a free-range turkey, and even a frozen turkey. Yum.

But there are also the turkeys you don’t eat, and, for the most part, being called one of those is not something to aspire to. According to Merriam-Webster, these non-edible turkeys include “three strikes in a row in bowling” (probably the best of this lot), a “failure” or a “flop,” and “a stupid, foolish, or inept person.”

In that vein, and in recognition of the upcoming holiday, TheGreenGrok announces its Environmental Turkey of the Year.

Something to Chew On: The Race to the Top of Environmental Turkeyhood

But who to choose? It’s been such a memorable year for environmental progress (not) that there are many, many contenders.

Now, before we announce our winner, it bears stating that TheGreenGrok tries to be apolitical and nonpartisan — not all of our readers agree that we succeed but I can assure you that we try. But this year’s choice does tend to point in a political direction, not by design but by the sheer and unvarnished environmental turkeyness of some of our political figures. (See here, here and here.) Chief among these are the presidential contenders who have decided that railing against environmental regulations and bashing the Environmental Protection Agency is a responsible way to get elected to the White House.

As I have said before, anyone who wants to roll back EPA’s rules and regulations should spend a week or two in China or India. (See here and here.)

To suggest that we are not better off economically as well as environmentally because of EPA is without question in my book aspiring to environmental turkey-hood.

But of all the aspiring turkeys out there gobbling up the campaign trail, one has clearly established himself as the leader of the flock: Newt Gingrich.

Why Newt?

Mr. Gingrich is our choice in recognition of his courage — shall I say cojones? — as well as the balletic ability he has displayed in doing a 180 on the environment.

Now, much has been made of late about his about-face on global warming and his disavowal of his videotaped call, with then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, no less, for government action on climate change. But it goes much deeper than that. You see, before becoming a presidential candidate, Gingrich was oft found trying to position himself as a kind of enlightened conservative, one who understood science and saw the value in conservation and environmental protection.

How so? All you have to do is read his 2007 book A Contract with the Earth. It was co-authored by Terry Maple, a former colleague of mine from Georgia Tech and an animal behaviorist and director emeritus of Zoo Atlanta. Its forward is written by E.O. Wilson, a biologist as well as an outspoken advocate for evolution and secular humanism (not exactly the kind of positions, I imagine, with which candidate Gingrich would want to be associated, but that’s another issue). And it begins with this quotation by Jacques Cousteau: “The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope.”

Gingrich, the Contract With the Earth author, is clearly a passionate and committed environmentalist in stark contrast to Gingrich, the current presidential candidate. A few examples.

In the book …

Among our government’s top energy priorities, a plan to vigorously and rapidly reduce our dependence on foreign oil should be vigorously pursued.
— Gingrich, A Contract With the Earth

On the stump …

As part of my Day One Plan in the 21st Century Contract with America, I will approve [Keystone XL] on the first day of my administration in 2013.
Gingrich statement, November 2011

In case anyone’s forgotten, as surely Newt has, the Keystone XL pipeline project is to bring oil from Canada to the United States.

In the book …

The burden of leadership requires that Americans help shape an earth … where water and air meet stringent standards of cleanliness.
— Gingrich, A Contract With the Earth


On the stump …

We must also replace the EPA, which pursues an anti-jobs agenda the economy simply cannot sustain.
Gingrich, 21st Century Contract with America
quotation markEPA is made up of self-selected bureaucrats who are anti-American, anti-American business … and I don’t think you can re-educate them.
Gingrich, Conservative Political Action Conference, February 2011

In the book …

We must be prepared to anticipate and quickly respond to present and future threats. The high priority of the environment must be affirmed.
— Gingrich, A Contract With the Earth

In 2007 Gingrich included climate change among those threats we must act on. Debating Senator John Kerry (D-MA) at an event hosted by New York University, Gingrich said: “The evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon-loading of the atmosphere.”

On the stump …

I think we honestly don’t know.
Gingrich, New Hampshire, April 2011
I think the evidence is not nearly as complete as the computerized models, and I think that the understanding of climatology is a lot more incomplete than the global warming advocates would have you believe.
Gingrich, New Hampshire, April 2011


In the book …

Our growing estrangement from nature is a dangerous trend, especially in view of its potential to damage the psyche of our children.
— Gingrich, A Contract With the Earth

On the stump …

It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid. …Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work.
Gingrich, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, November 2011


Not sure how putting a mop in a child’s hands would put him closer to nature and thus address the risk that author Gingrich wrote of but anyway …

The Award Goes to …

In recognition of his extraordinary about-face, his stated ambition to place EPA on the chopping block, and his disavowals (one might even say flip-flops) of his own Contract With the Earth, Newt Gingrich gets the 2011 Environmental Turkey of the Year.

And with that I head for the Big Apple in anticipation of a real turkey feast. A good and safe holiday for all.

filed under: climate change, economy, faculty, global warming, politics
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1 Comment

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  1. mark isenberg
    Nov 25, 2011

    Take a look at Boston based Converted Organics which had a good fertilizer technology but has wasted its potential in financing its growth so that it is down to one cent per share on the OTC and its CEO is desperate to keep the firm afloat with its main product losing $$ in California.

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