Climate

Jack Bauer becomes first-ever carbon-neutral torturer as Rupert Murdoch says “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats”

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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:

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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.

21 Responses to Jack Bauer becomes first-ever carbon-neutral torturer as Rupert Murdoch says “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats”

  1. Joe, thanks for a wonderful article that otherwise I would have missed.

    Yes praise to Murdoch for coming out of the climate closet.

    Up till now I have completely ignored FOX. Now I will have to check in to see how they might be changing. No, I can’t do it. Somebody tell me if they change.

  2. paulm says:

    Suns coming up!

    Could this be the beginning of a media onslaught in the nick of time?

  3. Lewis says:

    “Every little bit helps,” said the old man who peed into the sea.

  4. Can anyone get the memo to Glenn Beck, please? By last week if possible?

  5. paulm says:

    Companies should not get bail out money unless they accept that AGW is real and have away forward to mitigate against it.

  6. paulm says:

    Industry leaders denying climate change, says UK science minister
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/04/manufacturing-climate-change

    “There is a significant minority of senior managers who do not accept the evidence for climate change and don’t see the need to take action,” Drayson said. “It really shocked me that those views are held, and it’s not limited to the car industry.”

  7. Ruth says:

    I actually think that Jack being so non-green in essence makes the show a great choice – reducing emissions should have nothing to do with any other moral stances, it should be the basic aspiration of any person and business (well, one can dream, can’t they…). And whatever of this trickles to the audience of the show, which presumably is a mixed one, even better…

  8. Alex says:

    It only takes his entire country burning to the ground for him to “believe” in global warming. If all conservatives were as rational and easily convinced by incontrovertable evidence as Murdoch, we might have a 70% non-denial rate by the time every lake in the world dried up due to global warming.

  9. Talk and pledges are a cheap way to try and get yourself a green halo.

    Based on Murdock’s history and actions over the last several decades there is zero reason to believe he is sincere or will follow through on this.

    Sounds like “The New Nixon” to me.

  10. DavidONE says:

    Soon all the neocons / libertarians / whatever they call themselves nowadays Deniers are going to have left is Limbaugh’s radio show. They deserve each other.

    The Fox team are going to be crying in to their True American Domestic beers if Murdoch cracks the whip and makes them toe the line.

  11. Jay Alt says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it, because –

    Roger Ailes, Conservative Maestro Behind Fox News, Signs For 5 More Years 11.20.08

    http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlLA/journos/roger_ailes_the_conservative_maestro_behind_fox_news_signs_for_5_more_arduous_years_101340.asp

  12. CTF says:

    I think it’s a great start and Murdoch deserves some praise thrown his way.

  13. Jay Alt says:

    He talks very slowly. Reading is faster. Here is a transcript of the speech (may ’07)
    http://www.newscorp.com/energy/full_speech.html

  14. Seems this is much less a political statement (although Mr. Murdoch will gladly accept “praises” from the left and say a few things on his blog) than a first step in preparing Newscorp for a financial opportunity vis a vis greenhouse gas reduction credits. Either way, if Newscorp sells their efficiency-backed GHG credits in the voluntary private sector now, or hope that his GHG-reducing actions today will be counted in a future U.S. climate bill, it offers a plug to slow the accelerating capital drain that Newscorp is now caught up in.

  15. Joe says:

    I don’t think this is just talk or a gimmick.

    I have worked with dozens of businesses over the past 10 years that were at various stages of greening — and based on what I see, Murdoch is in the “very serious” camp.

  16. Harrier says:

    I read about this in the New York Times a few days ago.

    Much kudos to Murdoch, and I’m happy to have him on board despite his otherwise neoconservative politics.

    Fighting climate change isn’t your standard progressive cause. What’s at stake is literally the survival of the human race, or if not quite that, then at least the survival of human civilization. We should take our allies wherever we can get them, and be prepared to accept some very strange bedfellows.

  17. Ronald says:

    But if they were torturing a denier? That would be ok, right?

    [JR: Funny! But turnabout is fair play!]

  18. Peter Wood says:

    Rupert Murdoch needs to do something about his flagship Australian newspaper The Australian. It has been actively campaigning against doing something about climate change in Australia. It regularly publishes opinion pieces from denialists (also known as “people who don’t care”); it spreads significant amounts of disinformation about climate change policy “costing jobs”, “sending jobs overseas”, and “closing down industry”. It regularly prints articles that quote lobbying groups who want to water down climate policy without mentioning different opinions. Because of its cosiness with big polluters, I like to refer to it as The Rentseekers Review.

  19. Bill DeMott says:

    Yes, if we all were from Alaska or southern Australia, it would be easier to gain a consensus for action. Perhaps people in the western US will begin waking up to what’s happening in their region.

  20. Adam says:

    Also keep in mind that they’ve been recycling plot lines since at least season 4 …

  21. A Siegel says:

    Joe,

    This is truly interesting material but …

    First, please note that Murdoch has been speaking this way for years. See: Fox Going Green from May 2007.

    Rupert Murdoch’s speech where he announced that a News Corporation (parent of Fox News, 20th Century Fox, HarperCollins, MySpace.com, etc…) climate change plan to reduce the News Corporation’s emissions and, even more importantly, “to weave climate messaging into the content and programming of News Corp.’s many holdings.”

    Yet, since then, where has Fox News and the New York Post been on Global Warming issues.

    Since then, Fox hired denialist Glenn Beck and others.

    Again, this is quite interesting … but not new. What would be truly effective, I would think, is to end the harboring of global warming denialists within the News Corps’ pages and television shows and …