Living green with Ed Begley Jr.



The beginnings of Ed’s eclectic career included stand-up comedy in nightclubs between 1969 and 1976, which he considers “the greatest training, better than any acting school I could’ve gone to, because it’s very immediate. You get all the condemnation or praise instantly by the very fact that they would be laughing or they wouldn’t, and there’s no better review or opinion than that. If you’ve got a good act – you know, some people begrudgingly or reluctantly laugh if they feel it’s politically incorrect, whatever they feel – but they laugh just the same. So it’s a very immediate kind of return and I liked that, so I did that for a while.”
Ed, Rachelle and the rest of the green movement are picking up speed in their effort to influence America’s consumer habits, but there are still obstacles: for example, the fact that only 57% of Americans see “solid evidence of [global] warming,” according to The Pew Research Center poll.


“It’s difficult because there’s so much opposition still,” says Ed. “Skepticism is healthy. I like people who are skeptical, and it’s good to be skeptical about climate change even, but to deny what is happening with the snows of Kilimanjaro melting, and the Greenland ice shelf melting, and the Arctic ice melting...We can see Alaska’s glaciers receding from photographic documentation at Glacier National Park, and even within the lower forty-eight states you can see the evidence of it. When people deny that, it gives the wider population a reason to not do anything. It gives them an excuse for inaction. The interesting thing is, the main reason that [people say] we shouldn’t do anything is because of how much it’s going to cost. ‘It’s going to break the bank.’ Keep in mind, that’s what they said when we went about cleaning up the air in Los Angeles in the early seventies. ‘Hey, we all want clean air, but we can’t afford it.’ But we cleaned up the air in LA and businesses thrived because there are jobs making catalytic converters and turbines and cleaning spray paint pollution and all this stuff you need to clean up the air. So that’s the big lie. Somehow, [the idea is that] the money that one makes on an oil refinery, those dollars are printed on good Federal Reserve notes that have value that goes out into the wider community, but the money you would spend on wind turbines, on solar panels, hybrid cars, green installation, that’s printed on paper that disappears instantly the minute you spend it. And of course that’s absurd. It would be good for our economy to do this stuff. Even if you disagree about climate change – and this is the way I approach this when I talk around the country – then let’s agree to disagree. I think it’s so, and many other scientists do. You think it’s not so  . . . let’s agree to disagree about that. You want to clean up the air like we did in LA, you want to lessen our dependence on Middle East oil, and you want to put money in your pocket? Most people have a hard time saying no to that, and if you do those three things you’ve also done a great deal to combat climate change. So what’s the harm in that? I haven’t heard a good answer to that yet.”