Bob Inglis, a former senator from South Carolina (R), has won the 2015 Profile in Courage Award for the “political courage he demonstrated when he reversed his previous position on climate change, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation (JFKLF) announced yesterday.
While simply admitting that something accepted by the scientific community as fact is real might not seem courageous, Inglis is a Republican and knew he would be essentially committing political suicide by reversing his stance.
According to a statement from the JFKLF,
A member of the House Science Committee who served as Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Inglis initially opposed efforts to address climate change. But interactions with scientists in Antarctica, Australia and elsewhere, along with encouragement from his five children, changed his views on climate change, and he began advocating for a carbon tax to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
In Washington and South Carolina, Inglis’s acknowledgment of the scientific reality of climate change drew intense criticism from within the Republican Party, and in June 2010, he was defeated for re-election in the Republican primary. He went on to found and currently directs the Energy & Enterprise Initiative to encourage conservatives to accept the reality of climate change and to promote market-based innovations to address the challenges it poses.
Climate change should not be a partisan issue. Policies and practices by people on both sides of the aisle caused the problem, and both sides need to be working together to fix it. Simply ignoring it, like many states are currently trying to, will not make it go away. Neither will denying its existence or using the “I’m not a scientist” excuse, tactics which have been used by all three current Republican presidential candidates.
The fact that Inglis lost his campaign because he reversed his stance on climate change, combined with winning an award for that reversal, shows just how ridiculous the partisan bickering has become.