Make global warming cool – Schwarzenegger

The environmental movement needs to shed its 'tree-hugging weirdo' past and embrace a new, confident 'sexy' image as it enters the mainstream, according to Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Speaking to a predominantly student audience at a conference at Georgetown University, Mr Schwarzenegger compared environmentalism to body building, saying that the pastime which had made him famous had once had a decidedly shady image, with dungeon-like gyms frequented by oddballs and fanatics.

But that had changed over time and now it was perfectly normal to hear people talking about working on their abs and pecs, he said.

“The perception of bodybuilding began to change and it became more and more hip and more and more attractive,” said Mr Schwarzenegger.

“And then all of a sudden, everyone wanted to exercise. It became mainstream, it became sexy, attractive.”

A similar shift is needed to make being concerned about the environment the acceptable norm, argued the Governor.

“Like bodybuilders, environmentalists were thought of as kind of weird and fanatics also,” he said.

“You know, the kind of serious tree huggers. Environmentalists were no fun; they were like prohibitionists at a fraternity party.”

He said that the environmental movement had been powered by guilt for too long and it was not realistic to expect everybody to live the virtuous life of a Tibetan monk but if people felt positive about helping the environment their actions would contribute to steering society in the right direction.

“I don’t think that any movement has ever made it and has ever made much progress based on guilt. Guilt is passive, guilt is inhibiting, and guilt is defensive,” he said.

“Successful movements are built on passion.”

He went on to say that a combination of legislative measures and forward thinking business people had helped to make California a leading player in environmentally sustainable living and the state was flying the flag for progressive societies.

“I believe the environmental movement is in the midst of redefining itself as something more modern, more confident, and more positive,” he said.

“As governor, I talk to scientists in our universities, I talk to CEOs that run major corporations. And let me tell you, those are not wacky people.

“Mainstream scientists are convinced, mainstream CEOs are convinced, and if you look at the surveys, mainstream Americans are convinced that global warming and climate change is real and we have to do something about it.

“So who are the fanatics now? They are the ones who are in denial. They’re in environmental denial, they’re in economic denial, and they are in political denial.”

Mr Schwarzenegger also had a warning to politicians who failed to embrace the environmental agenda and refused to take action to tackle climate change.

“You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe that is drifting out to sea,” he said.

“Good-bye, my little friend. That’s what is going to happen.”

Sam Bond

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