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Politics

Schwarzenegger in Washington: Make environment sexy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told environmentalists on Wednesday they needed to stop nagging and make their cause sexy, likening it to bodybuilding’s evolution from a weird pursuit to mainstream.

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“Bodybuilding used to have a very sketchy image,” the former bodybuilding champion told an environmental forum at Georgetown University. “... It had fanatics and it had weird people. ...But we changed that. ... It became sexy, attractive.”

“Like bodybuilders, environmentalists were thought of as kind of weird and fanatics also, you know, the serious tree huggers,” Schwarzenegger said.

He said those pushing for limits on greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution were not on the fringe but in the center of the debate on global warming, adding that the environmental movement needs to get to the point where it “is no longer seen as a nag or as a scold.”

“We have to make it mainstream, we have to make it sexy, we have to make it attractive so that everyone wants to participate,” Schwarzenegger said.

In Washington to meet with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, the Republican governor said politicians who oppose acting to curb greenhouse gas emissions will endanger themselves.

‘GOODBYE, MY LITTLE FRIEND!’

“Your political base will melt away as surely as the polar ice caps,” he said. “... You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe that is drifting out to sea. Goodbye, my little friend! That’s what’s going to happen.”

The Bush administration has been slow to act to curb emissions that spur global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it was still evaluating a Supreme Court ruling that gives the agency the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Before his speech, Schwarzenegger talked with the agency’s chief, Stephen Johnson, about California’s request for federal permission to enforce tough state limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson said on Tuesday California may not proceed until its request is evaluated; he said that process would begin “shortly.”

Schwarzenegger noted California’s moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and to cut the carbon content in transportation fuels by 10 percent, acknowledging that these moves and others by his state would not turn the tide on global warming.

However, he said what happens in California has impact around the globe, and among states and Canadian provinces that have become California’s environmental partners.

“We’re going to change the dynamic of greenhouse gas and carbon emissions ourselves,” Schwarzenegger said. “We are not waiting for anyone, we are not waiting for the federal government or Washington.”

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