Skip to main content

Schwarzenegger museum should honor his true environmental legacy

“Arnie’s World,” a museum focusing on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life in bodybuilding, acting and politics, has opened at the house in the small Austrian town of Thal where he was born.

A “soft” opening took place on July 30 to mark the ex-California Governor’s 64th birthday before a grand opening ceremony takes place later this year, the Austrian Times reported on July 29.

“Peter Urdl – an old friend of Schwarzenegger's – explained he and his team wanted to give the former governor of California a chance to attend the occasion,” according to the Times. “Urdl said the date of the official ceremony depended on the action film hero’s schedule.”

Museum managers said the exhibition will feature Schwarzenegger’s first set of dumbbells and a replica of his governor’s desk. “The 200-square-metre museum will also include the ‘Terminator star’s favourite pair of cowboy boots and many old photographs documenting the different stages of the famous Austrian’s life,” the Times explained.

I believe that “Arnie’s World,” to reflect his true record as Governor, should add some exhibits showcasing the environmental legacy of the “Green Governor.” If there’s not enough space in the existing museum, perhaps a wing can be added to the house or a separate building could be built. Here are my suggestions for exhibits to add:

Fish Kill Hall: This exhibit would commemorate the millions of Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta fish species killed in the Delta pumps and elsewhere by the Schwarzenegger administration.

The centerpiece of the exhibit would be a model of the state and federal water project pumping facilities on the Delta. Accompanying charts and photos would document the massive numbers of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento splittail, striped bass and other species killed in the Delta pumps during Schwarzenegger’s reign from 2003 to 2010.

Accompanying the photos of fish killed would be photos and charts showing massive amounts of water exported to corporate agribusiness and southern California during his administration, including the record water export years of 2003 to 2006.

Interspersed throughout the exhibit would be video displays of Schwarzenegger and his staff at press conference after press conference, at photo opportunity after photo opportunity, touting the administration’s “green” environmental policies.

Restored Delta Hall: This exhibit would feature Schwarzenegger’s vision of a “Restored Delta” that he pushed for relentlessly through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) processes and the water bond/water policy legislation in 2009.

The centerpiece of this exhibit would be an interactive model of a “Restored Delta” with Schwarzenegger’s beloved peripheral canal delivering water around the Delta from the Sacramento River to the state and federal water project facilities

The model would include vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most productive farmland on the planet, converted to salt marsh, so that corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley can continue irrigating drainage impaired land.

Of course, the exhibit would include a large saltwater aquarium filled with leopard sharks, sevengill sharks, halibut, bat rays, and surfperch demonstrating the exciting new fishing opportunities that would be available on the “Restored Delta.”

Surrounding the aquarium and “Restored Delta” model would be video displays of Schwarzenegger and Resources Secretaries Mike Chrisman and Lester Snow gushing about the glories of the peripheral canal and taking Delta farmland out of production.

Marine Protection Hall: This hall’s centerpiece would be a giant model of the California coast featuring the “marine protected areas” created under Schwarzenegger’s “visionary” Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. True to Schwarzenegger’s’ vision of “marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, pollution, habitat destruction, corporate aquaculture, wave energy projects and military testing, there would be no fishing boats, shore fishermen or tribal gatherers in these marine protected areas.

However, the “marine protected areas” would be studded with oil rigs, wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture facilities, the yachts of millonaires and billionaires, oil tankers and military planes and ships conducting exercises.

Around the room would be videos of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association and chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, MLPA officials and advocates, and ocean industrialists praising the “open, transparent and inclusive” MLPA Initiative.

Side by side with these exhibits would be video screens featuring Tribal members, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists speaking out against the corruption, conflicts of interest and violation of state, federal and international laws under the MLPA Initiative. The exhibit would prominently feature videos and photos of three direct action protests conducted by the Coastal and Klamath Justice Coalitions, including speeches by Georgiana Myers, Klamath Justice Coalition organizer, and Thomas O’Rourke, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, blasting the MLPA’s refusal to respect tribal gathering rights.

Corporate Greenwashing Hall: This exhibit would document how politicians from the Republican and Democratic parties, business leaders and corporate environmental NGO leaders greenwashed Schwarzenegger’s war on fish, fishermen, family farmers and Indian Tribes.

The exhibit’s centerpiece would be a life-size model of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, handing Arnold Schwarzenegger the award for his “environmental advocacy” at the “Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball” at Pier Sixty on the Hudson River in New York City on April 14, 2010.

Displayed around the exhibit would be plaques and awards given by politicians and NGO leaders to Schwarzenegger to greenwash his environmental legacy. These would be interspersed with video footage, photos and press releases and articles covering the Governor's relentless attacks on the Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta smelt and his support and endorsement of “Astroturf” groups such as the Latino Water Coalition seeking to increase water exports out of the Delta to Westside growers and Southern California water agencies.

If the town leaders of Thal, Austria don’t have the money to build these much needed exhibits to properly commemorate the environmental record of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I suggest that groups and individuals that helped to promote his policies step up to the plate to help fund the historic exhibit. Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the owners of the giant Paramount Farms and huge contributors to Schwarzenegger’s campaigns, the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the Western States Petroleum Association are among those who could be solicited to fund this ground-breaking exhibit.

We can't fail to take advantage of this unique opportunity to "celebrate" Schwarzenegger's real environmental legacy!