At the Paris conference on climate change, one prominent voice touting a so-called solution was about as credible as a liquid metal robot. Time to say ‘Hasta la vista, ba-by’ to The Terminator.
He’s huge — both his celebrity status and his screen presence — the source of multiple iconic movie quotes and, as my tween-aged son likes to say, “super-muscle-ly” as an athlete, action hero and cybernetic organism.
But why, oh why, are we taking nutritional pointers — or any lifestyle advice at all — from Arnold Schwarzeneggar?
Granted, he’s had a “fahn-tah-stick” career as a bodybuilder, movie star and California’s “Governator.” But he also spent years pumping himself up with steroids before later getting onboard the “Just Say No” anti-drug bandwagon.
He also publicly embraced conservative “family values” while cheating on his wife and fathering a child out of wedlock with the family’s live-in maid.
Role model he ain’t.
But that’s not stopping him from taking on a role as dietary savant, for which he’s even less equipped than his forgettable portrayal of a man who becomes pregnant in the movie “Junior.”
According to BBC News, Ah-nold has embraced the meme that if we’d all just stop eating meat, the world’s environmental problems would be effectively resolved.
Schwarzenegger recently addressed students at a political science institute in Paris during a speech delivered in connection with climate talks in the French capital.
“His audience hung on the words of a man old enough to be their grandfather, and applauded his optimism that climate change could be tackled,” the BBC reported. It also quoting him as saying, “I have seen many bodybuilders and weightlifters that are vegetarians. You can get your protein many different ways.”
Such as: Scooped out by the cupful from an oil drum-sized tub of Arnold Schwarzeneggar Series High Protein Formula Powder for “massive muscle growth.”
Don’t think for a moment that the cinematic Cyberdyne Model 101 is all about embracing The Full Veggie.
“I think that’s a good idea,” he told BBC News, “but people won’t buy in. People will buy in to stop eating meat one or two days a week — you have to start slowly.”
Although The Terminator was equipped with “a fully programmable CPU” that registered all pertinent data, the BBC apparently doesn’t have access to that technology, telling its audience that, “Meat-eating, of course, is not only tied to cancer, but estimates of the amount of global greenhouse gases attributable to animal farming are as high as 50%.”
Of course they are …
Although reputable sources such as the Environmental Protection Agency estimate that all of agriculture accounts for less than 15% of GHG emissions globally -- including emissions from mechanical farm equipment, plowing and planting, enteric fermentation from cattle, manure management, feed cultivation and field burning -- the UN Conference on Trade and Development floated data prior to the UN Climate Summit that estimated agriculture’s contribution to total global GHG emissions at 57%.
However, that’s because the UN data went way beyond farming and included emissions from land-use changes, such as development and deforestation, as well as the processing, packaging, transportation, distribution and sale of agricultural and food products.
By that standard, “agriculture” would probably represent somewhere around 57% of all global economic activity, anyway.
But back to Schwarzenegger. To lower greenhouse gas emissions, he suggested simply “eating a little less meat,” encouraging people to plan “a couple meatless days each week.”
For all the happy talk about the ex-governor’s “moderation” in his message, a couple meatless days a week is a big leap forward from Meatless Mondays. And not once has anyone pushing the eat-less-meat-to-save-the-planet mantra ever acknowledged that for every calorie of animal food the world takes off its collective dinner plate, something else has to be planted, cultivated, harvested, transported, processed, packaged and distributed to take its place.
All of those things produce substantial GHG emissions.
I have no doubt that Schwarzeneggar has a real insider’s expertise when it comes to competitive bodybuilding — he knows what it takes to pump you up. After all, despite the mega-millions he’s earned from starring in a string of Hollywood blockbusters, he didn’t develop those bulging biceps from lifting Oscar statuettes.
With dietary science, though, it’s a different story.
His character in Terminator 2 acknowledged that, “The more time I spend around humans, the more I learn.”
The more time I spend around Arnold’s philosophy on anything other than pumping iron or delivering robotic movie dialogue, however, the more I yearn.
To be somewhere different listening to somebody else.
Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.