Former Republican congressman gets award for believing in climate change

Posted at 4:13 PM, Apr 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-13 19:30:58-04

Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina may have been late to the party when it comes to accepting climate change, but today he got an award for it.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded Inglis the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for his political courage in acknowledging climate change. Inglis, who reversed his position on the issue in 2010, later lost his congressional seat to a Tea Party candidate.

But back in 2010 climate change was already largely accepted. A Gallup poll found that 63 percent of respondents believed that climate change was happening or would happen during their lifetime. Last year the number of respondents who accepted climate change rose to 65 percent.

While Inglis may stand out from many of his Republican colleagues for accepting climate change — today only about 37 percent of declared Republicans believe that there is solid evidence that the earth has been warming — is it fair to call his acceptance courageous when the scientific community, other world leaders and even the UN have been espousing the same belief for years?

Apparently the John F. Kennedy Library foundation thinks so.

"Inglis is being awarded this honor for the courage he demonstrated when reversing his position on climate change after extensive briefings with scientists, and discussions with his children, about the impact of atmospheric warming on our future," the foundation said in a statement. "Knowing the potential consequences to his political career, Inglis nevertheless called on the United States to meaningfully address the issue. In June, 2010, Inglis lost his re-election to the U.S. Congress."

Today Inglis works at the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a group he helped found that is devoted to conservative free-enterprise solutions to energy and climate change.

In the past he has expressed hope that other members of his party would follow in his footsteps and actively accept climate change as reality but judging by the current GOP presidential contenders, that dream may still be far away.

[Also by Miranda Green: 2017 GOP hopefuls aim to prove their tech chops]

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