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Commentary: Schwarzenegger’s dangerous climate change witch hunt

Dieter Zetsche (left), chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG, and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduce the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class during a media preview Jan. 14 at the North American International Auto Show in the historic Michigan Theater. Schwarzenegger recently declared that he wants to sue the fossil fuel companies, which provide the gas to power automobiles, for "knowingly killing people all over the world." (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is on a mission to destroy America’s energy companies, but in the end, we’ll all suffer if he’s successful.

In a recent interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast, Schwarzenegger — the former Republican governor of California and movie action hero — revealed that he’s working on a plan to sue energy companies for “knowingly killing people all over the world.”

Schwarzenegger argued that fossil-fuel businesses have known for decades that global climate change is the result of humans’ use of oil, gas, and other forms of carbon-dioxide-emitting energy and that a warming climate poses significant dangers to people around the world. Schwarzenegger even went so far as to equate energy businesses to those tobacco companies that knew smoking causes cancer but chose to keep it a secret to protect their profits, even while millions died.

“This is no different from the smoking issue,” Schwarzenegger said. “The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that.”

“Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it,” Schwarzenegger added.

Suggesting that the question of whether humans are causing global warming is settled — and, according to Schwarzenegger, has been settled for decades — is irresponsible. Many scientists from countries across the world are skeptical of the claim humans are to blame for global warming. Just two weeks ago, The Heartland Institute published a Policy Brief authored by a team of 18 distinguished scientists outlining just some of the reasons they believe climate scientists and government agencies claiming humans are causing climate change are wrong.

Among the paper's contributors are John R. Christy, Ph.D., the distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Roy Spencer, Ph.D., the principal research scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Christy and Spencer are former NASA climate researchers who received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites.

John Coleman, who passed away earlier this year, also contributed to the paper. He was the founder of The Weather Channel and the original weathercaster on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo is another of the paper’s contributors. He is the chief meteorologist at WeatherBell Analytics and the co-founder and first director of meteorology at the Weather Channel.

These scientists and countless others believe Schwarzenegger — who has spent the better part of his career competing in bodybuilding competitions and pretending to blow things up in Hollywood, not studying climate change — is dead wrong about global warming.

Schwarzenegger alleges that global warming is posing significant dangers, but the available evidence completely disproves this alarmist claim. For instance, contrary to popular belief, severe weather events are not becoming more common as a result of global warming. The amount and severity of hurricanes making landfall since the 1850s has remained relatively flat, and prior to 2017, the United States hadn’t had a major hurricane make landfall in 12 years, the longest such drought since the 1860s.

Further, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the number of floods and droughts has not increased because of climate change, and extensive research by geophysicist Dennis Hedke shows “sea-level trends are not significantly different from what they were seven to nine decades ago.”

In fact, studies examining the effect cold weather has on populations have shown when climates get colder, significantly more death and destruction results. Researchers published an article in 2015 in The Lancet, a prestigious academic journal, showing that an examination of 74 million deaths occurring in 13 different countries revealed cold weather is 1,700 percent deadlier than warm weather.

Schwarzenegger’s suggestion climate change is dangerous and thus that those energy companies that emit fossil fuels should be treated as though they are knowingly “killing” people isn’t only false, it’s a particularly dangerous and reckless assertion. Energy companies provide heat and electricity to billions of people around the world. They power industries and farms that feed families and animals. They make sure our hospitals are fully functioning and have helped civilization move, quite literally, out of darkness and into the light.

Punishing fossil-fuel companies probably makes a lot of sense to Schwarzenegger. He’s an environmental fanatic and multi-millionaire who doesn’t need to worry about the cost of electricity, food, or transportation. If he and other climate alarmists had it their way, carbon taxes and other anti-energy regulations would be imposed to drive traditional energy companies out of business. So-called “renewable” energy businesses would be propped up with taxpayers’ money. The result of these policies would be higher prices for virtually everything bought and sold, but especially gasoline, electricity, and heat. Who do you think will suffer more when that occurs: Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger or working-class Americans?

Scientists are debating numerous issues related to global warming. Let’s give them the time they need to determine the truth before hurling baseless accusations against vital businesses and creating policies that will destroy our economy and make life miserable for America’s poorest families.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.

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