Arnold Schwarzenegger has been called a lot of things: body builder, movie star, governor, environmentalist. But he may have just added a new name to his repertoire: hypocrite. Global Witness, a non-profit company that aims to stop global warming and the exploitation of natural resources, is accusing the former Governor of California of profiting off of notorious, and unethical deforestation companies. The logging companies have been accused of cutting down trees in rain forests, and posing a threat to the environment. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an avid environmentalist, but may also be a hypocrite because he is profiting off illegal and unethical deforestation companies that go against everything he says he stands for.
Tom Pickens, a Global Witness policy advisor, worked on a recent study that shows since 2008, forests have been getting destroyed at an alarming rate. The study found that areas of forests the size of 50 football fields are being destroyed every minute. After the stock crisis in 2008, private investors started investing in logging companies, especially those in other parts of the world, like Indonesia, because they thought they were recession-proof. This created a boom in the logging industry. There are a few logging companies in particular that have been accused of performing illegal deforestation techniques in unnecessarily destructive ways. They have destroyed rain forests as well as habitats in Borneo.
Schwarzenegger owns part of Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), an investment company that ventures to make outstanding investments for their clients. They strive to deliver their clients higher return rates through advanced tactics; Schwarzenegger is said to have a 5 percent stake in DFA, which is estimated to manage around $338 billion. The report filed by Global Witness says that DFA invests in these logging companies, which are widely known to use unethical procedures that result in unnecessary amounts of deforestation. Barito Pacific, Ta Ann, as well as WTK Holdings are all included in this group of unethical companies, and DFA invests in all of them. The report says DFA has invested over $170 million in 20 different forestry companies. As DFA is profiting off these deforestation companies, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an environmentalist leader and advocate on climate change, profits off these highly questionable companies too.
As Governor of California, Arnold was an advocate of preserving the environment. His achievements in office included setting low standards on carbon fuel, creating a renewable energy program and he co-founded a non-profit organization specializing on climate change. This past October he was named an honorary U.S. Forest Ranger, joining Betty White and Chuck Leavell as the only other people to receive this honor. Later this month, Schwarzenegger will appear next to other celebrities, including Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba and Matt Damon, in a new documentary series on Showtime about climate change called, Years of Living Dangerously. The program features prominent movie stars and avid environmentalists going around the world and investigating the effects of global warming and how it impacts other parts of the world. The series is being executive produced by James Cameron. After these recent accusations, it will be interesting to see if anything comes of Arnold’s participation in the show.
DFA has responded to these claims from Global Witness saying, they invest in a wide array of different publicly traded companies and only seek to invest in ways that will make their clients money. Schwarzenegger is not just another client of DFA, he has a 5 percent take in the company. For someone who has a history of trying to push awareness on global warming and slow down the effect we have on the environment, it is surprising that he was not aware of the large amounts of money being invested in these companies. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done a lot as an environmentalist, acting as a leader in his efforts, but it seems very hypocritical that he is also profiting off deforestation companies that are destroying the environment he has sworn to save.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich