By Paul Bradley
Community College Week
“I’m basically a cheapskate,” Begley said while delivering the keynote address at STEMtech, a conference sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College and intended to increase student success in science, technology, engineering and math.
So Begley rode his bike around town rather than spring for a car while growing up as the son of a Hollywood actor who stressed frugality as a core value.
“Your turn out the lights,” Begley said of the lessons his dad taught him. “You saved tinfoil. You didn’t throw anything away.”
Eventually, Begley bought an electric car – in 1970 – which cost him all of $950. His desire to save a buck combined with his dismay with pollution fouling the air and despoiling rivers turned Begley into an environmental activist. His activities are now the topic of a cable TV reality show, “Living with Ed.”
But Begley’s message was more than a biographical sketch. He told the gathering that sustainability makes economic sense. And perhaps that notion, he said, can bridge the gap between those who decry climate change and those who scoff at it.
Everyone agrees that pollution should be cleaned up, he said. Everyone agrees that American dependence on foreign oil is a threat. And everyone would like to save money. Perhaps Americans should concentrate on those things rather than fighting about whether climate change is real or not.
Community colleges have a critical role to play by training the workers who can do green jobs and promoting an ethic of sustainability.
“I think the time to do this is now,” he said. “If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will regard us very poorly, and they should.”
— Paul Bradley