Schwarzenegger to CNN's Axelrod: Environmentalists doing a terrible job selling climate change concerns

Schwarzenegger to CNN's Axelrod: Environmentalists doing a terrible job selling climate change concerns
© Greg Nash

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slammed environmentalists for failing to "sell" concerns about climate change to the American people, and argued that individual states like California "cannot rely on the federal government" for environmental protections.

Schwarzenegger made the comments on "The Axe Files," hosted by former Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod. The program originally launched as a podcast in 2015 that CNN turned into a weekly Saturday program in May 2017.

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The "True Lies" and "Terminator" said environmentalists are not making the argument on the dangers of climate change in a way that resonates with the American people.

"Environmentalists have done a terrible job in selling this," Schwarzenegger said. "Because the more they talk about global climate change, which no one understands what that is, they talk about what’s going to happen 20 years from now, and the sea level rising and the polar bear and all of these kind of things."

"No one cares about that when you want to have a job and you want to bring food on the table today," he continued. "But what people care about is if you say, 'This is going to cause cancer. This is going to make your child have asthma early on.'"

"And as soon as they hear the health aspect of it, because that’s how we sold it to the people in California, this is the difference, it has to be sold the right way."

Axelrod also brought up President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE's record on Obama-era emissions standards and climate change deals.

"He withdrew from the Paris accords, the EPA is repealing many of the emissions standards that came into being under the Obama administration, and now at war with California over its standards," Axelrod said. "Can this momentum be turned back?"

"I think it’s unfortunate that he’s going in that direction," Schwarzenegger replied. "Wherever I go, and hold a speech about the environment, [I say] that we cannot rely just on one person and we cannot rely on the federal government."

"And this is not just [President] Trump," he continued. "Remember that when I was governor [from 2003 to 2011], I fought the federal government also during my time, because the federal government said, 'You cannot have a waiver to regulate your own air, because greenhouse gases is not a pollutant and I said, what? Greenhouse gases is not a pollutant? I took them to court. My own party was in control then, and it went all the way up to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States decided that, yes, greenhouse gases is a pollutant. Well, duh. How much brain power does it take?"

"It’s crazy because we are polluting the world and it’s not just about global climate change, but it is the amount of people that it kills every day all over the world. Every year, seven million people die because of pollution, so if the responsibility of government is to protect people, then why would I let that happen?" he concluded.

Schwarzenegger was referring to a May 2018 report from the World Health Organization based on 2016 data that an estimated 7 million people face a premature death each year due to air pollution.

According to the WHO report, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean experience the highest levels of air pollution, while some parts of Europe and the Americas have started to see declines in
the concentration of air pollution.

Schwarzenegger is a staunch critic of the president, and mocked the president for his support of coal as a clean, viable energy source earlier this year in a Facebook post.

"Coal is the Blockbuster Video of fuel sources," Schwarzenegger said on June 28. "It is on the way out."