Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently that people have “tuned out” the climate change activism movement because it is “stuck in despair and confusion.”
The activists are “wearing the public out” with their apocalyptic warnings of an “existential threat” to life on earth, Schwarzenegger warned in a speech at a climate summit he co-hosted in Austria. He said the focus should be on pollution from fossil fuels, “because that kills people.”
Schwarzenegger knows storytelling. He made the point that audiences need hope. He cited one of his films, “Predator,” to illustrate the positive reaction that people had to the line, “if it bleeds, we can kill it.”
“If pollution is created by humans, it can be solved by humans,” he said, “We can kill it.”
What he was talking about was the importance of volition in storytelling, the idea that people can take action to effect changes in their situation. It’s the opposite of the gloomier philosophy that we’re all just playthings of fate awaiting our doom.
Climate activists have succeeded in persuading many people that we’re on our way to human extinction and picking up speed. Schwarzenegger warned that this has created “constant alarm which cannot be sustained.”
Another hint that pollsters are picking up signs of trouble for climate alarmism can be seen in a recent fundraising email from a climate activist group, 350.org. It quotes a leaked draft of the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that purportedly warns of “irreversible climate impacts,” and “much sooner than originally expected, causing even more extreme weather patterns, unlivable heat, widespread disease, ecosystem collapse… the list goes on.”
Then it asks for money, because “this crisis is so very urgent.” Apparently sending them $3.50 cents will help to “prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis.”
That’s followed by this: “The last thing I want, Susan, is for you to read this email and come away from it feeling hopeless or discouraged.”
We’ve left the action movie and we’re in a comedy. The world is coming to an end, but gosh, chin up!
If anyone in Hollywood still had a sense of humor, the climate movement would make a great setting for a farce.
The wild exaggerations of climate doomsayers have been called out by longtime environmental activist Michael Shellenberger in a 2020 book titled, “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.” In the introduction, he describes himself as “fed up with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism.”
Some of the chapter titles: “It’s Not the End of the World,” “Enough with the Plastic Straws,” and “All About the Green.”
Let’s just say there’s a lot of money to be made in “grassroots” fundraising for causes that align with the business interests of various players in the energy sector of the economy. On all sides.
Fundraising in the climate movement isn’t limited to voluntary donations from people on a mailing list. In 2014, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. taxpayers would contribute $3 billion to a new international fund to help the world’s poorest nations address the effects of climate change.
Who gets that money and on what is it spent? These are questions that are rarely asked and even more rarely answered. Climate alarmism facilitates the movement of billions of dollars from one set of pockets to another, and there is no evidence anywhere that this policy of wealth transfer is doing anything to affect the climate.
Yet it’s all sold to the public as “doing something” to stop climate change.
In 2006, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which committed the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The law put the California Air Resources Board in charge of figuring out how to do this, and CARB came up with a cap-and-trade program that essentially requires utilities, refineries and manufacturers to pay an extra fee for operating. The cap-and-trade program operates like a tax. It increases the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel, electricity and heat, and it raises the price of everything that’s made or moved in California, where the high cost of living has contributed to the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.
What has it done for the climate?
Meanwhile, the mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California has affected decision-making on everything from road repair to housing construction. Driving is considered an “impact” that increases GHG emissions, so your gas taxes are being used to build bike lanes, and new housing construction in outlying areas, where homes would be more affordable, is virtually banned. That’s why state lawmakers are attempting to force high-density housing into existing single-family neighborhoods; the old pattern of expanding the suburbs to new areas where young families can happily buy homes is considered bad for the climate. So young people are told the world is ending, and then they can’t afford to live anyway.
That’s very depressing, very discouraging, and very unnecessary.
With his signature on AB 32 and his advocacy of useless climate policies, Arnold Schwarzenegger did more than anyone to cause California’s housing crisis, high energy costs and high poverty rate.
Now he says it’s time to stop depressing the public.
Maybe it’s time to stop manipulating public opinion and open up a new debate about the cost, effectiveness and unintended consequences of the policies he has promoted.
Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley