(By Eric Kuhn, Hardball Intern)
On April 10, Callista Gingrich moved her seat to the front row in the Senate Caucus Room on Capitol Hill with her Nikon camera, ensuring she had chosen the best position to photograph her husband. Shortly after she settled in position, the introductions began and Sen. John Kerry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took the stage in front of a standing-room-only crowd to debate “Global Climate Change and the Environment.” The New York University Brademas Center for the Study of Congress sponsored the event.
The debate was more of a conversation on shades of gray, not black and white. The first similarity was both men had new books to promote. “This Moment on Earth” recently hit bookstores by Senator Kerry and wife Teresa Heinz Kerry. Gingrich’s book, “A Contract with the Earth,” is due out in November and co-authored by Terry Maple, who is the director of the Center for Conservation and Behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The two agreed global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed. But Gingrich admits being a “green conservative” is not easy.
Kerry and Gingrich agreed that India and China were essential to decreasing carbon emissions, and thus the crux of the debate was not whether global warming existed, but how to solve the problem. Kerry wanted the government to impose “cap and trade” laws, which would allow the government to place limits on the release of pollutants and companies who pollute under the cap can sell their additional allowance to companies who are polluting over the cap. He said that major CEOs yearn to move forward with green policies in business but need the government to support the companies with legislation.
Gingrich, however, felt that with the proper economic incentives, the marketplace would figure out its own solutions to curbing carbon emissions.
Maybe this similarity is because, as Dean of NYU Wagner Ellen Schall noted: “These issues are difficult to resolve largely because the practical impact of decisions made today are often not felt for decades, even though the political impacts can be felt immediately.”