Newt Gingrich: 8 of the GOP idea man's more unusual ideas

Newt Gingrich is a big ideas guy. Ask anybody. Some of the ideas end up working, while others are a little out there.

By , Staff writer

4. Using space mirrors to light up the night sky

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    A NASA symposium floated the idea of space mirrors in 1979. Gingrich endorsed the idea in 1984, saying they could light cities, eliminating the need for street lights.
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New York Times columnist David Brooks recently noted, in an unflattering way, Gingrich’s support for an idea to install, as Brooks put it, “a mirror system in space [that] could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways.”

The fact-checking website Politifact looked into whether Gingrich actually ever advanced the idea. It found this: a Gingrich recap of a 1979, NASA-sponsored “new concepts” symposium in Woods Hole, Mass., where 30 experts brainstormed ideas for NASA.

Politifact quotes Gingrich’s 1984 summary of the idea, which he treated approvingly: "The climate group at the Woods Hole conference suggested that a large array of mirrors could affect the earth’s climate by increasing the amount of sunlight received by particular areas, citing recent feasibility studies exploring the possibilities of preventing frosts in Florida or enabling farmers in high altitudes to plant their wheat earlier.

"A mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways. Ambient light covering entire areas could reduce the current danger of criminals lurking in the darkness. Mirrors could be arranged to light given metropolitan areas only during particular periods, so there would be darkness late at night for sleeping."

Experts contacted by Politifact said the idea had “too many downsides to be desirable.” But the site ruled Mr. Brooks’ statement as true.

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