Climate

Did The Governator Just Come Up With A Republican-Proof Argument On Climate Change?

CREDIT: AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visits the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference Monday, Dec. 7, 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris. Schwarzenegger took to the spotlight to make his pitch for an agreement at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.

Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a note on Facebook on Monday that made a very good point about climate change and renewable energy: It really doesn’t matter what you believe.

The former California governor addressed people who think climate change is a conspiracy or a hoax, and asked them whether the deaths from pollution are acceptable, whether fossil fuels will last forever, and — to paraphrase greatly — what kind of world they want to live in. This excerpt pretty much sums up his argument to climate deniers.

There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

It’s a strong point, but even more importantly, it’s a bipartisan point. We are in an era where addressing climate change is largely split down party lines, especially in Congress. Moderate Republicans like Schwarzenegger, who believe a healthy environment and climate are public goods, haven’t yet been able to sway people who think that clean energy is going to kill the economy.

But Schwarzenegger should know that a green economy can work. As governor of California, he worked with the Democratic-led legislature to enact the nation’s first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction law and the nation’s first low-carbon fuel standard. Now California is the nation’s leader in both solar installations and solar jobs.

“We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech,” Schwarzenegger writes.

And no matter what you think about clean energy, it is hard to argue against the unassailable point that fossil fuels are a limited resource that will eventually run out, offering a powerful economic argument for clean energy investment.

“I, personally, want a plan,” he writes. “I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.”

Schwarzenegger has been outspoken on climate change for some time and is in Paris for the United Nations’ ongoing climate talks. He told BBC news this week that people should go vegetarian at least part-time in order to help mitigate their emissions.

In its first day, the post garnered more than 80,000 shares and nearly 50,000 likes, including from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, along with fellow billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is part of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a new, multi-billion-dollar initiative to spur clean energy research.