Schwarzenegger Is a Climate Cuckoo, Not a Climate Hawk

by William Yeatman on October 28, 2010

in Blog

Last week, David Roberts at Grist coined the phrase “Climate Hawk,” to describe “people who understand climate change and support clean energy but do not share the rest of the ideological and sociocultural commitments that define environmentalism as historically understood in the U.S.”

Of course, a “hawk” in political jargon has long referred to policymakers who are bullish on the use of military might to advance American interests. The national security overtones are meant to impart a seriousness to global warming alarmists otherwise conflated with hippy-dippy granola environmentalists. According to Andrew Leonard at Salon, Roberts’s term is “a brilliant jiujitsu move of rhetorical framing.”

Roberts’s new meme was adopted quickly by the green journo beat. Today, for example, both Joe Romm (of Climate Progress) and Brad Johnson (at the Center for American Progress) refer to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Climate Hawk in the wake of a recent interview he did with Diane Sawyer, in which he said,

“We need to go to Washington and say, “Look what happened. You, because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington.” What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors, our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country, and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies?”

Those are tough words, but are they appropriate? After all, Schwarzenegger hasn’t actually implemented any difficult climate policies. Indeed, AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, doesn’t kick in until after the Governor leaves office. Moreover, Schwarzenegger in 2007 actually tried to delay early action climate policies under AB 32, in order to protect the construction industry, which had been a big donor to his 2006 reelection campaign. What “guts” has the Governator evinced?

Rather than “climate hawk,” a more appropriate bird metaphor for Arnold Schwarzenegger is “Climate Cuckoo.” The Cuckoo is a parasitic bird that lays its eggs in other nests, in order to be reared by other birds. That’s a pretty good parallel for what the California Governor is doing with respect to climate policy. He helped birth a climate law full of sacrifice that his successor will have to shoulder.

Alex October 29, 2010 at 5:03 am

Absolutely! Climate freaks are parasitic birds wanting everyone else to pick up the tab for their own glutenous "babies" — the wasteful and useless "green energy" schemes.

Dan Fernandes October 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I thought Cuckoo meant not mentally all there, which accurately describes anyone willing to lay the AB32 egg.

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