Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking the oil companies to court with a brilliant lawsuit.

He may be an iconic action movie star, but Arnold Schwarzenegger's fight for the environment may soon eclipse his biggest box-office hits.  

During his time as governor of California, Schwarzenegger demanded stronger environmental regulations. More recently, he took part in a vegan challenge with director James Cameron to bring attention to the environmental cost of the meat industry.

Now, he's taking on Big Oil.


"This is no different from the smoking issue," Schwarzenegger said during a SXSW taping of Politico's "Off Message" podcast. "Eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that."

Over the course of that conversation, Schwarzenegger pointed to documents that show that, much like with cigarettes, major oil companies have known for decades that their products were bad for the environment. And he said he's been consulting with a number of law firms to build momentum behind the idea.

"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."

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr,

And he's right: Fossil fuels are terrible for us and the environment.

It's not just air pollution. Every step in the process of obtaining and refining fossil fuels poses very real risks to the environment, to people, and to wildlife. Nearly 100,000 tons of methane were released in the air between 2015 and 2016 alone, and coal is estimated to cost more than $100 million in health costs annually in the U.S.

Schwarzenegger may be the "Terminator" — and a former governor. But he isn't perfect.

Schwarzenegger also used his talk to open up about his thoughts on the #MeToo movement. During his first run for governor, he was accused of groping women on set and was later revealed to have cheated on then-wife Maria Shriver with the couple's nanny.

"You've got to take those things seriously," he said. "You've got to look at it and say, 'I made mistakes. And I have to apologize.'"

Of course, when it comes to destroying our environment, a simple apology won't cut it. But Arnold is setting a good example of accountability here. He's willing to own up to his own past failings, and companies that have directly contributed to climate change and other environmental damage should do so as well.

Schwarzenegger knows that real change only happens when people get involved.

He plans to host an environmental conference in Vienna in May and hopes that by pursuing his potential lawsuit against the oil companies more people will feel inspired to take action in support of the environment. After all, he says, lives are at stake.

"If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it's first-degree murder," he said. "I think it's the same thing with the oil companies."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less