Ed Begley, Jr. Gets Candid on Climate Change

IMG_2412 Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. discussed a wide range of issues at the Go Green Expo this past Saturday.

The all-weekend event at the Los Angeles Convention Center featured the latest eco-friendly products and services, including water filtration system LifeSource, which Begley, Jr. is a spokesman for.

I asked the long-time green activist what he thought the prospects were for passing climate change legislation this year given the Democrats recently losing their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

“I don’t think we’ll get any big legislation through, but I’d
love to be wrong. I think there will be some very watered-down modest
legislation and it’s a start. Change happens incrementally.”

“Let me be proven wrong. Let some of the wonderful
conservatives who like to conserve stand up and speak for climate change.
Sadly, I hope I’m wrong, I don’t want to depress anybody or be a defeatist, but
I can tell you this as a fact, a year ago 54% of the public believed that
human-created climate change was real, now it’s 43% or something. Less people
are believing in it.”

“Here’s what I say to the people who don’t believe in climate
change: I say this and I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Let’s agree to
disagree. Let’s do the following. Let’s clean up the air in Houston
and Bakersfield (two of the three
dirtiest cities in the country, the other being L.A.), lessen our dependence on Mideast oil the way my
friend T. Boone Pickens the oil man wants to do, and put money in our pocket.
Let’s do those three things, and by the way, you just bought an insurance
policy for your back pocket that’s also going to impact climate change in a
positive way. So buy that insurance policy.”

Here are some other highlights from Begley, Jr.’s presentation, which included a brief visit on the stageIMG_2423 from his wife Rachelle Carson, who co-hosts their reality show on Planet Green called “Living With Ed.”

On the recent Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to finance political campaigns:

“Corporations have a great deal of influence on us already. I
don’t know that they needed to have more influence on our political system.
That’s not the way I would have gone if I was one of those nine. That was a
very disturbing ruling for me. And I don’t think it bodes well.”

“If we could get money out of the political system I think
we’d have better representation. But we’re not ready for that, we seem to be
backsliding now. And that’s unfortunate.”

    On reducing our dependence on Middle East oil:

    “15 of the 19 hijackers had Saudi passports, so why give
    money to the Saudis when some of that money is going to go to people who don’t
    like us at all. And I don’t think it’s in our best interest politically to have
    that money go to people who don’t like us.”

      On changing diets to help the environment:

      “I happen to be a vegetarian, a vegan, and am a healthy guy for a 60-year-old. I think eating lower on the food chain, that’s to say more plant-based
      material, I think it’s very good for your health and I think it’s also good for
      the planet. Why? It just takes less land, less water, less energy to grow a
      pound of broccoli then it does a pound of beef.

      On using solar power for energy use:

      “There’s great incentives now for solar. There’s lots of
      different tax credits and buy down programs, so give solar a try. It’s not as
      expensive as it was in 1990 when I was doing it. There were no tax credits,
      nothing. I just spent a lot of dough and got my solar. Nowadays you’re going to
      spend about half the amount you ordinarily would for the system because you get
      that kind of a buy down, that kind of a payback.” 

      On using wind power for energy use, with Jay Leno as an example:

      “I had to put my wind turbine up on Jay’s garage because my roof is too small. Jay got a permit for it,
      it’s totally legal there. He had to go past the FAA and everything because
      you’ve got something spinning around, you don’t want to monkey with the radar
      and suddenly planes are getting weird signals from the radar and the many other
      forms of instrumentation to allow a plane to land in Burbank.
      But he has that wind turbine there that is FAA-approved and is working right
      now. It’s a big 10-kilowatt wind turbine. It’s putting out clean power now.”

      On cap and trade, which is being considered by Congress:

      “I say do something today. My whole world has been about
      incremental change and doing what we can. And I’ve done a lot of good
      incremental change in my life that has made things work very well financially
      for me. So I’m in favor of cap and trade.”

      On the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, which Begley Jr. made an appearance in:

      “It’s a shame because there were a lot of people at General
      Motors that really believed in the electric car, a lot of engineers and other
      people who believed in it. But some people at the top did not, they made a
      decision, I think Mr. Wagoner before he left said that one of the biggest
      mistakes I made was eliminating the EV1 program. So it’s unfortunate but let’s
      press on. I’m very anxious to help promote the Chevy Volt. I want GM to succeed.
      We all have a stake in that now. We put up a lot of money to keep GM afloat.”

      On the L.A. Department of Water & Power’s plan to get geothermal energy from the Salton Sea, called “Green Path North”:

      “I want those transmission lines so we can get more solar,
      wind and geothermal into the DWP grid. I want that, but I don’t want to
      threaten any wildlife. So whatever we can do to protect the desert tortoise and
      still do a solar plan, I want both.”

      On how environmentally friendly Los Angeles City Hall is:

      “We have the most receptive set of ears now at City Hall and
      the DWP. I was just with (former DWP chief) David Nahai, and he and (Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s environmental point man) David Freeman and people of
      that ilk are so receptive, enthusiastic about doing all those things. About
      doing more gray water and about doing more rain water retention.”

        — Josh Marks

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