PASADENA — The new Showtime documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously" explores the impact humans are having on the planet in the way of climate change. These stories will be told by top filmmakers working with Hollywood stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and America Ferrera.
Schwarzenegger, the former California governor and one of the producers of the series, focuses on how there has been an extended fire season because of ecological changes. He talked with TV critics about going from actor and politician to reporter.
Question: How did it feel to become a journalist?
Answer: I've done this type of work before because, remember, this is now my second crusade. The first was the fitness crusade. So I have been in front of the camera talking and talking about health and fitness. When I was the chairman of the President's Council on Fitness and I traveled around through all 50 states, I did exactly that, and I reported and asked people questions and did this kind of work. And being an actor, I think it is natural to do this kind of work.
What prompted you to want to be part of this series?
One of things, of course, that I enjoyed when I was governor was to go out and we had the fires. And this is when I really discovered the enormous increase in the amount of fires that are happening every year and that we are now burning twice or three times as much land than we did 20 years ago. There's many more fires.
As a matter fact, one day when I woke up as governor and it was at six in the morning, 2,013 fires at one given time in California. Just think about that.
So I started becoming very passionate about, first of all, how great firefighters are and how they protect lives and how they save us and how selfless they are and risking their own lives to save us.
What is the best part of being part of this series?
I was very excited that I was able to go out with the firefighters in Montana and in various different places and to really talk to them, have them firsthand explain about the fires, about their belief in global warming or not believing global warming and, you know, the danger they're in when they fight these fires and how those fires happen much more frequently now and much quicker and what needs to be done about it. So I had a great time doing that, but, you know, I have to tell you that I'm very fortunate that always the things that would be my hobby is also my profession.
What impressed you most about the firefighters?
I think that the firefighters that we have worked with and the firefighters that I have witnessed as governor, I think there's extraordinary stories, and when you think about it that they risk their lives to go up to do those fires.
We've seen the amount of firefighters that got killed this last year because of those fires. It just shows you how dangerous of a job it is. You just always wonder what kind of a mentality that is to get up every morning, never to know if you see your family again, and to just go and to put out those fires and to have to save homes and save people's lives. And it is tough work.
What are the most important messages to get across?
I think it is very important to let people know that they can get involved, that everyone has the power to get involved.
If you build a home, have it solar powered. The solar is today very inexpensive. If you go out and buy a car, buy a more fuel efficient car. If you do a redo of your lights, have LED lights. They can save you 80-90% of your energy bill because they're very energy-efficient. When you buy appliances, buy energy efficient appliances. So there's a lot of things that the ordinary folks can do to be part of this movement and to jump in there.
How did you work toward fixing the problem while in office?
I went in there, and very quickly we started passing different laws. If it is the Million Solar Roofs program here in California, which we inspire other states and other provinces and cities to do the same thing so that people become part of a program of the Million Solar Roofs program and install solar panels and so on.
We had the low carbon fuel standard we passed. We passed a green building initiative to make our government buildings more fuel efficient and more energy efficient. We passed the AB 32, which is to make a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases in California for 25% by the year 2020 and by 85% by the year 2050.
It wasn't just my administration, may I remind you. It goes back to the '60s. It goes back to the '70s. Governor after governor has always been on board to protect the environment.
"Years of Living Dangerously": 10 p.m. Sunday, April 13, on Showtime