Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't one to shy away from a challenge, and this time he's given himself a particularly intimidating task.
During a live recording of Politico's Off Message podcast, the former California governor and global environmental activist said he is gearing up to sue the oil industry for "knowingly killing people all over the world."
Like many other environmental advocates, Schwarzenegger sees a direct parallel between what happened with the tobacco industry and what is now happening with the oil industry.
"This is no different from the smoking issue. The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it," Schwarzenegger said.
"Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that."
In a similar vein, a landmark study published last year revealed the oil company Exxon knew about climate change almost 40 years ago, when its own researchers uncovered the dirty truth about fossil fuels.
Yet instead of spreading awareness of the issue, the company buried the truth and spent millions to promote misinformation on the topic. All in all, Greenpeace reports that Exxon has spent more than $30 million on think tanks that promote climate denial.
"The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people's lives, that it would kill," said Schwarzenegger.
While the exact date that he plans to file the lawsuit is still unconfirmed, the former governor is holding nothing back.
"We're going to go after them, and we're going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it's absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco," he said.
"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."
Schwarzenegger added that "if you walk into a room and you know you're going to kill someone, it's first degree murder. I think it's the same thing with oil companies."
Proving in the court of law that these oil companies wilfully and malignantly killed innocent people will be quite difficult, and Schwarzenegger understands that he's up against a very rich and powerful adversary.
He said if nothing else, such a lawsuit will raise awareness about climate science and possibly stem the tide of climate denial. He hopes that when people begin to realize the dangerous effects of burning fossil fuels they might even start looking at renewable alternatives.
If the former governor is serious, he will join the likes of New York City and San Francisco in suing some of the most powerful companies in the world.
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