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Inglis discusses climate change with actor Jeff Bridges

June 1, 2020   /   by Preston Williams

Actor and environmentalist Jeff Bridges said that solving climate change will require ideas and commitment from across the political spectrum to take “compassionate action” to solve the challenge.

Bridges spoke with Bob Inglis, executive director of George Mason University’s Energy and Enterprise Initiative, in a virtual conversation Friday. 

Inglis provided a prominent conservative voice in the 2018 environmental documentary, “Living in the Future’s Past,” which Bridges co-produced and narrated.

“This idea of getting together, getting all of these minds, as a guy who leans to the left, man, I’m digging the guys who are leaning to the right,” Bridges said in an amiable and sweeping interactive chat from his home in Southern California. “We need each other, you know. Right hand, left hand. It makes more sense to join forces.

“We all have this impulse to fix things, to rescue, to control. But to truly know what serves the moment, we have to be in the present. And then when we’re in the present…we can become powerful allies. I feel I’m your partner, we’re allies in this thing, and I think that’s what needs to happen to carry out what we’re up to, right Bob?”

The Energy and Enterprise Initiative, based in Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, and the initiative’s grassroots group, republicEN.org, promote free-enterprise solutions to climate change aimed to attract conservative support to the issue.

Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, acknowledged in Bridges’ documentary and during the discussion Friday that he “spent some time in the denier camp.” He said one of the challenges his organization faces is convincing other conservatives that climate change is a problem but also an opportunity for energy innovation.

Inglis received the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his efforts to engage conservatives in climate change solutions. In 2016 POLITICO included him among the top 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics.” Inglis has served resident fellowships at Harvard and the University of Chicago and was a visiting fellow at Duke University.

“Living in the Future’s Past,” directed by Susan Kucera, won several film festival best documentary awards. There is a study guide companion to the film.

During his conversation with Inglis, Bridges shared movie set photographs from his two collections, including shots from “The Big Lebowski” and “The Fisher King.” The actor, who won an Oscar in 2010 for his role as a grizzled country music singer in “Crazy Heart,” noted that he recently recorded a song called “Welcome Mat” about how at a time of social distancing everyone is in the same house metaphorically.

He added that the COVID-19 challenge could provide direction for solving other complex problems.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with this virus thing,” Bridges said. “But a gift that this pandemic has given us is the realization that we are one human community, man. What one person does affects the other, you know. It’s a wonderful lesson that we can jam on it and take it to other challenges, like climate change, that we’re facing.”