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The Latest on Climate Science, Solutions, and Politics Jack Bauer becomes first-ever carbon-neutral torturer as Rupert Murdoch says “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats”
Joe Romm, 5 Mar 09

Amazingly, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp — yes, the one that owns Fox News — is very, very serious about climate change. If you don’t believe me, watch the remarkable hour-long video (here), which is mostly a Rupert-Murdoch-led international launch of News Corps’ Global Energy Initiative.

Murdoch explains why he has become a global warming believer — he grew up in Melbourne, Australia, which is among the populated areas hardest hit by climate change (see “Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in”).

He also explains they have done a corporate-wide carbon footprint, that they emit 640,000 tons of CO2 a yea, and that they will be carbon neutral by 2010. And while I am not the hugest fan of carbon neutrality, since it ultimately relies on rip-offsets, Murdoch is a serious guy who has done his homework and who understands and articulates the right three-fold strategy

  1. Reduce energy as much as possible
  2. Then switch to renewables, and
  3. “As a last resort,” purchase carbon offsets.

And it is a gas listening to Fox News’ Roger Ailes say, “We have to save energy.”

Perhaps most important, Murdoch realizes that the viewers and readers of his corporate entities emit “10,000 times as much carbon dioxide,” (i.e. 6.4 billion tons of CO2, which exceeds total U.S. emissions!) and the biggest impact he can have is through messaging and public education.

Note: I am unwittingly part of Murdoch’s messaging strategy, since he owns the publishing giant HarperCollins, which published my book Hell and High Water, which is now listed as part of their “environmental titles” and gets a link from his global energy initiative website.

Of course, HarperCollins also published Michael Crichton’s denier-fest State of Fear, which probably sold a thousand times as many copies as my book, which brings me to the biggest problem with Murdoch’s initiative:

Murdoch says on the video that he has talked to scientists and understands that “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.” He has Tony Blair on the video saying climate change “is the greatest long-term threat we face.”

But the biggest obstacles to serious action in the United States — and arguably the world — are conservatives, whose self-destructive rejection of climate science and all mitigation strategies. And the biggest trumpet for conservatives is Murdoch’s Fox News (see, for instance, “Fox News disses Clinton climate plan — and Wayne Rogers is no Alan Alda“). T. Boone Pickens faces the exact same problem in his quest to aggressively ramp up US renewable power production (see “Pickens learns the hard truth: Drill-only GOP hates alternative energy” and “Pickens in a pickle: He embraces progressive policies but not progressive politicians“).

If Murdoch can’t change the disinformation-pushing FoxNews, than his talk about educating his viewers is just that, talk.

I also think he could have come up with a better choice for “the first-ever carbon neutral television production this season” than 24.

Now I have watched ever season of 24 (not for Jack, but for Chloe, duh) but I still have mixed feelings about News Corp picking the show because torture-loving Jack Bauer just isn’t the best role model for going green.

Indeed, this “carbon neutral” season is especially written to make the case for torture. I’d also say Kiefer Sutherland seems to be concealing Bauer’s humanity — his angst over his tough moral choices — more than in the past. In his desire to convince the people he is torturing how far he will go, he almost seems to display a certain enthusiasm, more so than I at least have noticed in the past.

But I will say this, 24 has done carbon neutral right. They are clearly very serious about going green, as their detailed analysis and explanation of what they have done, “24 Becomes First-Ever Carbon Neutral Television Production” makes clear:


Through greener production practices, the show was able to reduce its season 7 carbon footprint by 43%.

For more information check out the complete greenhouse gas measurement methodology document (24_season7_GHGresults.pdf ) and read below for details on how the show was able to achieve these impressive results.

  • During this season of the FOX hit “24,” the team has worked to calculate the emissions associated with producing the show and taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint. For the first time, the remainder of the show’s emissions will be offset, making the series completely carbon neutral.
  • After an in depth analysis of the emissions created from producing a television series, the team favored an inclusive approach collecting data for electricity, onsite fuel, vehicle & special effects fuel, shipping and air travel.

  • Electricity emissions were from the production team’s office spaces, stages and sets. While electricity represented the second largest source of emissions for the series, approximately 98% of these emissions were offset by purchasing renewable energy. By purchasing renewable energy, Fox was able to reduce the show’s overall carbon footprint by over 940 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

  • Onsite fuel use includes liquefied petroleum gas used by caterers as well as natural gas used for heating the show’s stage and office space.

  • The largest source of emissions for “24″ is fuel used in transport vehicles, special effects and onsite generators. The production team has taken important steps to reduce onsite fuel emissions, including the use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesel and driving hybrid vehicles on set, both of which have helped reduce the series’ carbon footprint.
  • Switching to hybrid vehicles has helped avoid using more than 1,300 gallons of gasoline during series 7. To put this in perspective, 1,300 gallons of gas would be enough to drive a traditional mid-sized vehicle from L.A. to New York 10 times.

  • During series 7, there was a small amount of emissions associated with shipping set equipment, props and cameras to Washington, DC. While these emissions represent only a small portion of the show’s overall footprint, their inclusion in the calculation demonstrates Fox’s commitment to conducting a thorough accounting of all emissions sources.
  • The team calculated 2,179 tons of CO2e were emitted during the production of 24’s 7thseason. Green power purchases reduced the footprint by 43% to 1,239 tons of CO2e.

  • The remaining 1,239 tons of CO2e will be offset through the purchase of carbon credits that meet the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) requirements and are retired through the Bank of New York Mellon.

  • The World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Greenhouse Gas Protocol serves as the foundation for the calculation methodologies used in the “24″ footprint, and emissions factors were sourced from both the GHG Protocol and EPA Climate Leaders guidance.

I would add that Murdoch has even launched a blog, “The Daily Degree” (!), which noted yesterday that “Van Jones, NY Times bestselling author and general rockstar in the environmental world, will be speaking on the FOX lot today.”

So kudos to Murdoch for being one perhaps the first chieftan of a major global media empire to truly get global warming and what it means to go green.

Now deal with Fox News.

This piece originally appeared on Joe Romm's blog, Climate Progress

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it's great what News Corp is doing. If they only got rid of Glenn Beck who has no idea about climate change...

Posted by: Decarbonator on 7 Mar 09

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