Schwarzenegger: People Listen to Actors Over Scientists on Global Warming

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Arnold Schwarzenegger says Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously” uses celebrities to talk about global warming because Americans don’t pay as much attention to scientists.

“Only actors really will get the ultimate attention,” the former governor said Thursday. “Scientists will never get the kind of attention that someone in show business gets.”

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The project, with a long list of executive producers that includes Schwarzenegger, Jerry Weintraub and James Cameron, features celebrity correspondents who illustrate consequences of global warming including wildfires, polar ice melting, and food shortages. A Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena, Calif., took place as a wildfire raged nearby. (Schwarzenegger and Weintraub are pictured.)

Schwarzenegger said the environmental movement, like the Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movements, need simple, clear messages. Among them: Don’t wait for the government to do something.

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“If you build a home, make it solar powered,” he said. “Buy energy efficient appliances.”

He also recommended driving low-carbon emission cars and teaching children to turn off lights and use less water.

He said his advice was “not to wait for a Kyoto 2 treaty — because you will be waiting for a very long time.”

As governor, Schwarzenegger signed a 2006 bill creating the nation’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions, among other legislation to help the environment. He promoted alternative-fuel vehicles, converting one of his Hummers to run on hydrogen and another to run on biofuels. In 2011, he founded the R20 Regions of Climate Action, a nonprofit group supported by the United Nations that seeks to develop sustainable, low carbon economies.

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“Vampire Diaries” star Ian Somerhalder, another of the celebrities involved in the series, noted that he was “leveraging social media, the access that a vampire television show gives me,” to bring attention to global warming.

Other stars involved in the project include Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle, and Jessica Alba. The other executive producers include “60 Minutes” producer David Gelber and Daniel Abbasi, a former senior adviser in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Policy.