Arnold Schwarzenegger Doesn’t Care What You Think About Climate Change

The action star and former governor of California brought his trademark real talk to the issue.

This jetty dividing Ceuta's northern border with the fishing village of Belyounech (in the background) has become a new target of attempts to cross since the deaths at Tarajal. It is nearly identical to the one there, five miles away. In October 87 people entered here, most of whom remain at Ceuta's refugee shelter.

Dec 8, 2015· 3 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

“Come with me if you want to live”—it’s a now-legendary line of dialogue from the Terminator film series. But instead of trying to save Sarah Connor from the T-1000, a more advanced cyborg sent from the future to kill her, the original Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is out to rescue Americans from the effects of climate change—whether or not we believe in it.

Indeed, on Tuesday morning, the actor and former governor of California, who is in Paris for the U.N. COP21 summit, tweeted the line, along with a link to an open letter to climate change deniers that he posted on Facebook on Monday. In true Schwarzenegger/Terminator fashion, the title of the post gets straight to the point: “I don’t give a f--k if we agree about climate change.”

Schwarzenegger’s blunt approach to the subject seems to have struck a nerve—his post has been liked more than 103,000 times, including by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and shared more than 66,000 times. And his straight talk doesn’t end with the title. Schwarzenegger, who has long been an advocate of clean energy, acknowledged that he reads the profanity-laced comments and questions climate change skeptics write on his Facebook page.

“There are always a few of you, asking why we should care about the temperature rising, or questioning the science of climate change,” he wrote. But instead of trying to convince folks with a Neil deGrasse Tyson kind of smackdown, Schwarzenegger moved the debate away from scientific fact.

“Let’s put climate change aside for a minute. In fact, let’s assume you’re right,” he wrote. “First—do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents—combined. Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths? Do you accept that children all over the world have to grow up breathing with inhalers?”

RELATED: Interactive Map Lets You See the Air Quality of 1,000 Places Around the Globe

Schwarzenegger’s question references sobering data from the World Health Organization, which found that in 2012, one in eight deaths globally was caused by exposure to air pollution. And if you check out the shocking pictures of the heavy smog blanketing Beijing—or if you’ve felt your eyes sting after strolling down Oxford Street in London—it’s not too tough to understand that breathing in chemicals from vehicle exhaust and industrial factories has a detrimental effect on your health.

Schwarzenegger is also savvy enough to know that some people aren’t necessarily swayed by the thought of saving lives—koala or otherwise—but they might care about how much cash they have in the bank or the health of their stock portfolio.

RELATED: The Reddest State Goes Green (Just Don't Mention Climate Change)

“Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What’s your plan then?” he wrote. “I, personally, want a plan. 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.”

California may be in tough shape thanks to the drought, but the state gets “40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country,” Schwarzenegger wrote. On top of that, the state’s economy “is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.”

RELATED: California’s Radical Move to Fight Climate Change Means Cheaper Solar Energy and Electric Cars for You

Schwarzenegger then offered his readers a choice between 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,” he wrote. He then asked readers to pick a room to enter and stay in—without a gas mask—for one hour.

“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?” wrote Schwarzenegger.

“To use one of the four-letter words all of you commenters love, I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science,” he continued.

At the same time that tens of thousands of people are sharing Schwarzenegger’s post, in Paris at COP21, the debates and formal negotiations over a new agreement designed to slow the effects of climate change are dragging on. Money seems to be one sticking point as diplomats from wealthy nations haggle over who will pay for the effects of rising sea levels, powerful storms, and drought in developing countries. It certainly seems as if Schwarzenegger’s “Come with me if you want to live” approach to the issue might help move the process along.