On the day that Starbucks released a new film depicting his interactions on an island in the Chesapeake struggling with sea level rise, republicEn.org executive director Bob Inglis said today that the film shows how we can bring America together on climate change.
Inglis traveled to Tangier Island, Va. this summer to film a town hall meeting with residents of the island. Tangier Island is a crabbing community 14 miles out into the Chesapeake Bay. The island is shrinking, and its 570 residents are at risk of inundation by sea level rise.
Donald Trump got 87 percent of the votes on the Island in 2016. Earlier this summer, President Trump reportedly called the mayor of Tangier to say, “Not to worry about sea level rise. Your island has been there from hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.”
That’s not what the science shows.
Inglis says that the film came together differently that he expected. “It seemed set up for ‘Climate warrior does battle with luddites on sinking island.’ But that’s not what happened there, and it’s not what the film shows.”
The film shows Inglis interacting with residents of the Islanda place not so different from the town of Bluffton, S.C. when he grew up there.
“They’re trying to hold on to a wonderful way of life on Tangier,” Inglis said. “Understandably, they want to hear that climate change isn’t real because sea level rise is going to take their island from them.”
Inglis explained that the role of republicEn.org, the effort he founded upon losing reelection to Congress in 2010, is to engage respectfully with conservatives.
“The people of Tangier heard me speaking conservative, because it’s our native language at republicEn.org. When conservatives hear climate change in that language, they can chew on the question that we ask everywhere: ‘Can free enterprise solve climate change?’ That’s much different than the typical question, ‘Do you believe in climate change?'”
Near the end of the film Inglis is heard to say, “I don’t think I changed any minds, but I think I opened some minds here on Tangier Island.”
It’s that kind of respectful conversation that republicEn.org believes will ultimately bring America together to lead the world to solutions on climate change.