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Terminate this, baby …

March 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy held the ARPA-E Innovation Summit last week.  As discussed last week, the ARPA-E summit had a number of speeches meriting a read and worthy of far greater audiences.   The speech from the ‘governator’, Arnold Schwarzenegger ranks among them.

 While the full text is below (and recommended), here are some key points, reaction, impressions …

Body-Building’s Relevance to Climate Change and a Clean Energy Future

Swarzenegger talks about the need to move beyond climate change science:

For too long we have been fighting over greenhouse gases, over global warming, or whether the oceans are going to rise, or whether the scientists are telling us the truth and if the science can be trusted, over whether we will soon be in another ice age. Where is this getting us, I ask myself? What has this brought us?

It reminds me so much of the first days and weeks and months when I came over to America in 1968 about bodybuilding, the sketchy image that it had. It reminded me so much of that. It had such a weird image that even the biggest Hollywood stars that were working out every day, like Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Kirk Douglas, didn’t admit they were working out because they didn’t want to be associated with the bad image of bodybuilding, of people with the skimpy bathing suits that were working out in those dungeons and popping 200 liver and yeast pills a day

 The governator then spoke of how the ‘body building’ community undertook a campaign to change their sport’s reputation and how ‘body building’ has become truly part of American culture.

Anyway, people had been stuck on the old, narrow perception of bodybuilding. They were stuck on that. And today, in the same way, we are stuck on global climate change. Let’s face it; if we haven’t convinced the skeptics by now, we are not going to. So unless there is something drastic happening like the North Pole breaking off and floating up on the north shore of Long Island, let’s just move past the old arguments, I say. Let’s move past what Democrats and Republicans disagree on, and let’s move to areas where they agree on.

Seeking arenas for agreement … moving to a post-partisan world

Schwarzenegger moves on to articluate that there is an agreement on the need to focus on the economy and jobs. Sadly, this is an arena of great disagreement between the two parties. He states that

From my experience in California, it is absolutely clear that a green economy is the way to keep America competitive abroad and to provide economic growth and jobs at home. And this is not ivory tower thinking. This is not environmental ideology. This is a fact. Green jobs are the largest source of growth in California. As a matter of fact, in the green sector the job growth is 10 times higher than in any other sector.

Sigh. There is a near religious belief among libertarian ideologues that one can’t make green by going Green. …

The Governator moves beyond ‘green’ to the national security imperatives of reducing oil dependency, health issues, competitive positioning vis-a-vis China … “It is critical for the U.S. to lead in this, just like we have led in everything else.  When it comes to human rights, we didn’t say to China, you go first.”

I know that we can change the debate and I know that we can win the debate if you start talking about those things. You can’t just keep talking about global warming because most people can’t relate to that, but when people are dying they can relate to that; jobs, they can relate to that; the economy, they can relate to that; national security, they can relate to that. This is why we need to talk about those things.

The benefits are so strong, across so many arenas, that there should be enough of a consensus to support action — even with disagreement about which factors or which issues should be paramount in justifying aggressive moves toward a clean-energy future.

He put it in terms that should resonate with almost all Americans.

I see the model for a competitive America in California right now. It is critical for the U.S. to lead in this, just like we have led in everything else. When it comes to human rights, we didn’t say to China, you go first. (Laughter.) When we landed a man on the moon we didn’t say to the Russians, you try it first. When we developed the computer we didn’t say to the Japanese, why don’t you do it first? No, we led. We were number one. And this is what we need to do also in this, in green technology. What American, Republican or Democrat, would disagree with that?

You believe in American exceptionalism, show it …

More than ‘talk’, need to be willing to fight

the important thing that we do in California is after we pass important legislation, we also protect it because it’s very important to recognize that at any given time the old order rises up and wants to undo our environmental progress

The Governor then turned to discussing how out-of-state fossil-foolish industries went all out to get voters to turn back the Califronia’s climate legislation.  He spoke of how Republicans and Democrats worked together to battle these interests (and Proposition 23) who argued that “envrionmental laws were no good … lose jobs and the economy will go down, it will be terrible and California will fall into the ocean.”

The people didn’t buy in on the argument. As a matter of fact, the people recognized what they really wanted to do is continue polluting California. And so therefore, the people said, “Hasta la vista, baby” to all of those coal and oil companies and they “terminated” them 61 to 39.

Three things to change America …

As he put it, we can “see the model for a competitive America in California right now.” Schwarzenegger articulated three specific arenas (steps) which the nation could undertake — emulating California — to put people back to work, strengthen the economy, improve America’s competitive position, and address climate change.

Imagine if the United States as a whole adopted an energy policy that instituted just three of the policies from Califronia, three … just to make it simple. We don’t want to make it too complicated.

1. Match California’s energy efficiency. 

California is 40 percent more energy efficiency than the U.S.  “If the nation followed the same polices that made California more energy efficient, the average American electric bill would go from $1400 (a year) down to $840, a savings fo $560.  Now, Republicans and Democrats would like that. And, you know what ould happen as a result? We would have a decgrease in greenhouse gases. … a decrease of a billion tons per year.”

2. Match California’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES)

If the United States matched California’s 33 percent clean electricity by 2020 standard, it would enabling shutting down 75 percent of the nation’s old coal plants.

3. Automobile fuel efficiency

The automobile fuel efficiency standards will “save motorists an average of $1300 a year” as opposed to increased fuel prices due to supply/demand pressures leading to increased costs of over $100 barrel oil of well over $1300 a year.
 

Now, do the math. Just those three policies from California would save American households thousands of dollars a year and it also will cut greenhouse gases a total of 50 percent, and we could close three-quarters of all of our coal plants. Now, that would be great policy. Why are we debating the science when we could be discussing the progress here?

The pleasure of watching people who can talk with each other

Schwarzenegger (‘Conan the Barbarian’ / ‘Terminator’) and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (bike-riding Nobel-prize winning physicist) have developed, it seems, a comfortable and joking relations.  In some ways, these two can be pointed to as representing the bookends of American culture from popular escapist violent movies to the pinnacle of the Ivory tower.  While the clip starts with Schwarzenegger’s joking about how Chu corraled him into the speech, not there are Chu’s jokes about how he (Chu) had managed to walk off the stage with Schwarzengger’s speech at past events.  Sitting in an audience, it provides a belief in meaningful dialogue between opinion leaders when they are so clearly comfortable joking about (and with) each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full text of Governor Schwarzenegger’s speech: 

 

 

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER:  (In progress) – has happened too many times that I’ve followed your speech and then all of a sudden there was no papers in front of me – (laughter) – only to find out that you were holding onto it.  But, anyway, so I want to say thank you for inviting me here today.  It’s great to be here. 

 

I just wanted you to know that, first of all, the way this came about was that I got a phone call from Steven just last week and he said, Arnold, it’s great to talk to you.  He says, you know that you and I have been partners in California.  We both believe in global warming and that we have to go and fight the global warming, right?  I said, yes.  He says, we both believe in a strong energy future, right?  I said, yes.  We both believe in free speech, right?  I said, yes.  Well, you’re going to give one next week in Washington.  (Laughter.)  So this is how – this is how this thing came about.  I just wanted you to know.  I mean, this is the way he is.  He lures you in.  (Laughter.) 

 

 But, anyway, it is great to be here today and to be with all of you.  And there are amazing things that are going on right now all over the world.  And we have all seen the massive demonstrations in streets and in the squares of Tunisia, of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and all over the Middle East.  And it is breathtaking to see people by the hundreds of thousands who want change, who want to throw off the old order and to subvert the status quo.  And it is fascinating how rapidly the debate in the Middle East shifted from, could the people really rise up to could the rulers hold on?  And then, when the demonstrations reached a critical mass, the old structure gave away.  They could not stand up to the momentum of the future.

 

All of which brings me to you here today because what you in this room also are saying by the work that you are doing is we want to subvert the status quo.  We want change.  We want innovation.  We want to overthrow the old energy order.  We want the new era of energy independence, a new era of green industries and green jobs, a new era of improved health from improved environment, and a new era of American competitiveness.  That’s what you’re all about.  That’s what you want. 

 

And all of us here have heard, of course, the complaints by those that say that in 50 years from now this country is not going to be what it was.  Well, I agree that it’s not going to be what it was.  It’s going to be much better.  And it’s going to be much better because I have total confidence in all of you, in the work that you are doing, the people that are creating the new technologies, the ones investing in new solutions, the ones formulating new forward-looking policies.

 

In California I was fortunate enough to be governor for seven years, and during the seven years had the chance to visit the labs, the startups, and I’ve seen firsthand what is happening there.  It is unbelievable the kind of things that are happening in California, and I have the utmost faith in what is coming.

 

But I have to tell you, there is something that is a little off to me.  There is a disconnect in what is happening and what is being debated.  For too long we have been fighting over greenhouse gases, over global warming, or whether the oceans are going to rise, or whether the scientists are telling us the truth and if the science can be trusted, over whether we will soon be in another ice age.  Where is this getting us, I ask myself?  What has this brought us? 

 

It reminds me so much of the first days and weeks and months when I came over to America in 1968 about bodybuilding, the sketchy image that it had.  It reminded me so much of that.  It had such a weird image that even the biggest Hollywood stars that were working out every day, like Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Kirk Douglas, didn’t admit they were working out because they didn’t want to be associated with the bad image of bodybuilding, of people with the skimpy bathing suits that were working out in those dungeons and popping 200 liver and yeast pills a day.  (Laughter.) 

 

They didn’t want to be associated so they always said, we were born like that; we were born with a body like that – (laughter) – because they knew that people literally believed that bodybuilding will make you muscle-bound, stupid, narcissistic and gay.  (Laughter.) 

 

So imagine – so of course we realized very quickly that we needed to change bodybuilders whole perception, so we began to use different words.  We didn’t say “bodybuilding” anymore.  We started saying “pumping iron.”  And a book came out, “Pumping Iron.”  A documentary came out on pumping iron.  We promoted it all over the world and talked about the great benefits of weight resistance training – not bodybuilding but weight resistance training, weight training, pumping up, strength training.  Those are the kind of words that we used.

 

We started talking more about the health benefits and how it improved your performance in sports and how it makes you a better athlete and so on.  And research began to show that reduces depression and has other medical benefits like building bone density, decreasing various diseases and providing other great benefits like weight control, more energy and so on.  As a matter of fact, it was so good that it can make you actually a movie star or governor of the state of California.  (Laughter, applause.)

 

So, over time the debate changed and now weight training has become an integral part of millions of people’s lives.  As a matter of fact, today you can look wherever you want and there’s a gymnasium.  Every street corner in the town as a gymnasium.  Every hotel has a gymnasium.  Every YMCA, every WCA, every high school, every college, every military base, every fire station – everywhere there is weight training facilities.  As a matter of fact, today totally normal people talk about their abs and their pecs and all of those things.  (Laughter.)  Steven, how are your gluts?  (Laughter.)  I think your gluts need a little bit more work.  (Laughter.)

 

Anyway, people had been stuck on the old, narrow perception of bodybuilding.  They were stuck on that.  And today, in the same way, we are stuck on global climate change.  Let’s face it; if we haven’t convinced the skeptics by now, we are not going to.  So unless there is something drastic happening like the North Pole breaking off and floating up on the north shore of Long Island, let’s just move past the old arguments, I say.  Let’s move past what Democrats and Republicans disagree on, and let’s move to areas where they agree on. 

 

We need both parties to create an energy future.  You can’t do it with one party alone.  It is very important to bring everyone together.  Let’s move forward.  There are powerful and convincing reasons to go green besides the science.  Let’s bring everyone together just like we did in California.

 

For most Americans, the biggest problem that the nation is facing is the economy and jobs.  They don’t believe that their children will have a higher standard of living.  Do you know something?  They won’t with the status quo of the old economy.  The people need a new vision of what is possible, and you in this room have this vision.  This is what this conference is all about.

 

From my experience in California, it is absolutely clear that a green economy is the way to keep America competitive abroad and to provide economic growth and jobs at home.  And this is not ivory tower thinking.  This is not environmental ideology.  This is a fact.  Green jobs are the largest source of growth in California.  As a matter of fact, in the green sector the job growth is 10 times higher than in any other sector.

 

In California we are building the largest wind farms in the world.  We are building the biggest solar power plants in the world, bigger than in China or in Spain or in Portugal or in any of those places.  I’m all pumped up.  Everywhere you look there’s green action in California.

 

There’s been new batteries being developed, electric cars are being build, hydrogen cars, hybrid cars, and the list goes on and on.  As a matter of fact, there are companies now like Solazyme that convert algae into fuel – algae into fuel that is 90 percent cleaner than oil.  Think about that: 90 percent cleaner than oil.  And the Navy has already taken delivery of is first shipment of algae-based jet fuel – the Navy.  So we’re not talking about some environmental weirdoes; we’re talking here about the Navy.  (Laughter.)

 

In fact, the United States Navy has set the goal of running half of its fleet on renewable fuel by the year 2020.  When the United States Navy takes on a goal, you know it’s going to happen because that’s a follow-through organization.  So I want to say congratulations to the Navy for thinking into the future.  (Applause.) 

 

Now, California pioneered the semiconductor industry, the biotech industry, the Internet industry, the film industry.  I mean those are all industries that are now pillars of the state’s economy, the seventh-largest economy in the world.  Clean energy is the next great wave of innovation – the next great wave.  Today, more than a third of the world’s clean-tech venture capital flows into California – one-third.  The Wall Street Journal called it “the new California gold rush.” 

 

California is the model of what the U.S. can do if it decides to get in the game.  I have been to China many times.  Living in Beijing we all know is an equivalent of smoking two to three packs of cigarettes a day.  So the Chinese have health reasons to act on carbon reduction, but also they have economic reasons.  China has made the decision, backed by billions and billions of dollars, that green is where the economic action is going to be.  They know that is where the economic action is going to be.  China is an ancient culture but with new ideas.  We cannot let America be a new culture with old ideas.

 

So I see the model for a competitive America in California right now.  It is critical for the U.S. to lead in this, just like we have led in everything else.  When it comes to human rights, we didn’t say to China, you go first.  (Laughter.)  When we landed a man on the moon we didn’t say to the Russians, you try it first.  When we developed the computer we didn’t say to the Japanese, why don’t you do it first?  No, we led.  We were number one.  And this is what we need to do also in this, in green technology.  What American, Republican or Democrat, would disagree with that? 

 

Here is something else everyone agrees on:  People may not agree on global climate change but they agree that our national defense should not be compromised by oil.  Our homeland security should not be compromised by foreign oil.  In recent weeks we have seen the spiking in oil prices.  I mean, it’s crazy; there’s a riot in the Middle East and all of a sudden the oil price goes up.  And then we hear that Gadhafi is dead and the oil price drops.  Then we find out a few hours later that Gadhafi isn’t dead and the oil price goes up again.  (Laughter.) 

 

I mean, why should a dried-up little country like Libya, with a crazy dictator, play havoc with America’s economic security?  (Applause.)  It doesn’t make any sense to me.  It makes us vulnerable.  As a matter of fact, in 1959 already, President Eisenhower said that we’ve got to get off foreign oil, that foreign oil poses a grave threat to our country.  At that time, imports amounted to about 20 percent.  So think about that every president since then has been saying exactly the same thing.  They believe that we should not be dependent on foreign oil.

 

But today, 60 percent or more of our oil comes from foreign countries – 60 percent or more.  Why?  Because America has never had an energy policy.  We don’t know which way we are going.  We don’t know 20 years from now, where do we get our energy?  How much are we going to drill on land, offshore?  How much are we going to rely on renewables?  Do we need more nuclear plants or what?  We know nothing.

 

That is a sad story.  Imagine if the United States as a whole adopted an energy policy that instituted just three of the policies from California, three of the things that we have in California, just to make it simple.  We don’t want to make it too complicated.

 

One, for instance, is California is 40-percent more energy efficient than the rest of the country.  Imagine if we make the rest of the country 40 percent more energy efficient.  If the nation followed the same policies that made California more energy efficient, the average American electric bill would go from $1,400 down to $840, a savings of $560. 

 

Now, Republicans and Democrats would like that.  And you know what would happen as a result?  We would have a decrease in greenhouse gases.  As a matter of fact, we would have a decrease of a billion metric tons per year.  It will be a decrease of 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – just that alone. 

 

Now, here is the most important thing:  The people say that it can’t be done, but we see it all the time.  I mean, we have seen just recently the Empire State Building has been weatherized, the Empire State Building retrofitted.  Now it is 40 percent more energy efficient.  And there are savings, like for instance with the Sears Tower in Chicago.  I mean, they’re right now retrofitting that building.  That was supposed to be 80 percent more energy efficient.  And of course the savings that you have from less energy use, you can pay off those bills in three years.

 

I asked German Chancellor Merkel when we had a meeting last year – I said, how come the whole world has this recession and the whole world is suffering because of job losses and all those things, and you and Germany all of a sudden you had the economic gain and you also brought the jobs back?  She said, we did one thing very quickly and that is we gave big tax incentives to weatherize all of our buildings and homes. 

 

And what that did was it created jobs, it cut energy use, it cut greenhouse gases, and it stimulated the economy.  Imagine if we would weatherize here in the United States a fraction of the millions of billions of square feet of homes and office buildings and warehouses.  Just imagine what that would be. 

 

Now, the second thing that I would recommend is that California would have – California right now has a 33 percent renewable standard – 33 percent by the year 2020.  Right now we have already 20 percent approximately, but if America followed the same 33 percent policies, this would cut our greenhouse gases here in the United States by 34 percent, and we could close three-quarters of our coal plants, which make up 44 percent of our electricity regeneration today.  Wouldn’t that be great?  That’s how simple it really is.  Those are the kind of things that we are doing in California. 

 

And, three, California passed laws to make cars more fuel efficient, which the Obama administration then adopted also for the entire nation.  Well, let me tell you, this would save not only oil but it will also save motorists an average of $1,300 a year.  So, you see, when you have an energy policy, you save money, whereas now, with the increase in oil price, it will cost the motorists an average of a thousand (dollars) or $1,500 a year more. 

 

So this is when you have – when there’s lack of policy versus having a policy.  The result of course, by 2016 this will kick in, this efficiency, and it will mean a reduction in greenhouse gases of 10 percent.  Now, do the math.  Just those three policies from California would save American households thousands of dollars a year and it also will cut greenhouse gases a total of 50 percent, and we could close three-quarters of all of our coal plants.  Now, that would be great policy.  Why are we debating the science when we could be discussing the progress here? 

 

Now, another area that deserves more attention is health.  There’s a huge and positive health consequence and benefit to a greener economy.  We have about 100,000 premature deaths right now in the U.S. each year from petroleum-related air pollution – 100,000.  And we have 6.5 million annual hospital visits by people with respiratory illnesses caused by the same thing.  Now, just to show you how huge this 100,000 is, as a total combined, it’s more than if you combined the death of car accidents, drunk drivers, gang wars, suicides, and the people – the soldiers that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  All of those combined doesn’t even come close to the 100,000.

 

The suffering and expense of those petro deaths needs to be recognized.  Think what it means in the Central Valley in California.  One out of six children has to go and walk around with an inhaler.  That’s what we do to those kids.  People need to think about that.  I know that we can change the debate and I know that we can win the debate if you start talking about those things.  You can’t just keep talking about global warming because most people can’t relate to that, but when people are dying they can relate to that; jobs, they can relate to that; the economy, they can relate to that; national security, they can relate to that.  This is why we need to talk about those things.

 

And, of course, the important thing that we do in California is after we pass important legislation, we also protect it because it’s very important to recognize that at any given time the old order rises up and wants to undo our environmental progress.  And I always said from the beginning when I ran for governor in 2003 that if the special interests push me around, I’ll push back.  And that’s exactly what we have done.

 

Last March we had an epic battle when the forces of the status quo tried to cut out our new environmental laws.  Oh, they came out of nowhere.  I mean, Texan oil companies and Ohio coal companies started spending millions and millions of dollars in California on an initiative called Proposition 23.  They trotted out all the old reasons why environmental laws were no good – that it will lose jobs and the economy will go down, it will be terrible and California will fall into the ocean. 

 

But do you know something?  The people didn’t buy in on the argument.  As a matter of fact, the people recognized what they really wanted to do is continue polluting California.  And so therefore, the people said, “Hasta la vista, baby” to all of those coal and oil companies and they “terminated” them 61 to 39.  (Applause.) 

 

We took out that initiative, and the reason that we won is that we made the case that the people of California understood, that our environmental laws are not for sale and our environmental laws are good for the economy and for jobs, our environmental laws are good for national defense, they’re good for the health of the citizens of our state, they’re good for saving money and they’re good for the future. 

 

And the great thing about that battle was that it was Democrats and Republicans fighting together.  I mention that because so many times we hear that the Republicans would derail any kind of environmental progress or energy progress and so on and so forth.  There may be some, but as a whole that’s not true.  It was Democrats and Republicans working together to go and to take out Proposition 23, and that’s what I want to see also on the national level.

 

Finally, a major reason that we should resent the old argument about global warming is you in this room.  You are changing the debate by the work that you are doing.  To me, a technologist is someone who uses technology to solve practical problems, so all of you are technologists.  Whether you are a scientist or an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist, you’re all basically technologists. 

 

And I also wanted to come here and to say to you that I believe in all my heart in what you’re doing.  I think that you’re doing extraordinary work, but you are the true people of action.  See, I’ve made a lot of action movies in the past so I know about action, but you are the people of true action.  This is what I like about you.  You are here to work hard to overthrow the old order and to transform the world. 

 

So I have the utmost respect, and this is why I wanted to come here today.  I wanted to give you a little quote of “Conan the Barbarian” – (laughter) – which is a movie that I did more than 30 years ago.  He was asked – Conan was asked, what is best in life?  And Conan answered, “To crush you enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”  (Laughter.) 

 

Now, my views have evolved since the days of Conan.  (Laughter, applause.)  But the point that I’m making is that Conan was not big on philosophical arguments – (laughter) – or naval-gazing or complaining.  He believed in action, just like you do.  He believed in action just like you do, so I want to say thank you to all of you for the actions that you’re taking.  Thank you for the great work that all of you are doing.  And thank you for the changes that you’re beginning to bring about here for the good of this nation.

 

And I want to say thank you our Secretary Steven Chu for his great, great leadership.  Thank you very much, and “I’ll be back.”  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

 

(END)

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 frflyer // Mar 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    The only problem with not talking about climate change is that the public will go on being in the dark, about who is fooling who. The illusion that there really are two legitimate sides will continue.

    Otherwise I like what Arnold said.