Sunday, November 23, 2008

2 Suggestions for NBC Green Week

NBC is having another green week. I am not sure exactly what this means, but their tagline is "green your routine" and I think it has to do with things like switching your light bulbs to CFLs. While there is some value in what they are doing, I think it would be much more valuable if they did two other things instead: calculate and publish the carbon footprints of all of their TV shows, and have a contest between all of their actors to see who has the smallest carbon footprint.

First, they should publish the carbon footprint of their TV shows.

I am curious what the carbon footprint is of me sitting down to watch TV for an evening is. While I can figure out the electricity used to run my TV and the energy needed to manufacture the TV, I have what the footprint is of producing and distribution TV shows is. Without that information I can't complete my calculation, and only the TV networks are in a position to determine the value. Once I have this additional information then I could compare the carbon footprint of various entertainment options I have: watching TV vs. going bowling vs. reading a book vs. going to a movie.

By producing this data, it would also allow NBC to see what is source of the largest portion of emissions and allows them to see how best they can reduce it.

Second, they should have a contest with all of their actors to see who has the smallest personal carbon footprint.

The contest could be measured in two different ways: one that includes carbon offsets and one that doesn't. Because offsetting carbon is so cheap, I would think that all actors could easily pay to offset their entire footprint. So, the real competition would be for the non-offset footprint. My money for smallest footprint would be someone who lives in New York City who doesn't do a whole lot of travel.

I think it would be interesting to know just how large the footprint of celebrities are and which actors are really walking the walk when it comes to environmentalism. Such a contest would also inspire lots of viewers to inquire as to how large their own footprint is and how best to reduce it.

This contest would also raise lots of questions that would make for interesting debate.

Where does a personal footprint end and a professional footprint start? Should travel that is work related count in the footprint? On the one hand, it seems like it shouldn't, and that those emissions are allocated to the purchaser of the product for which they are traveling. On the other hand, it seems like it should as the the person has control over how often and by which means he travels and that someone who has a smaller travel footprint should be rewarded.

Should rich people be able to have a large carbon footprint than poor people? Should all people be given equal allotments? Or if someone makes $1 million a year should they be able to have 20 times the emissions as someone who makes $50,000 a year? As Conan O'Brien says "if you are not famous then you should walk".

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