Hollywood's Hot Air and Global Warming

A new study by the University of California at Los Angeles finds that the entertainment industry in Southern California produces millions of tons of greenhouse gases each year. Humorist Brian Unger is shocked by this news, and gives us his reaction.

MIKE PESCA, host:

In today's Unger Report, a new study uncovers some real dirt in Hollywood. What goes on behind the scenes of your favorite movies is uglier than you ever imagined. Here's humorist Brian Unger.

BRIAN UNGER: It has long been the case that the Hollywood film and television industry pollutes our society with graphic sex, violence, and profanity. All toxins spewing forth from a town drunk on power and money; or a Mel Gibson, drunk in a town with money; or a Michael Richards, shockingly not drunk, on a stage, in a town with money.

Now comes a study confirming that the industry is literally polluting the earth we live on. According to the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Hollywood film and television industry pollutes the air in Los Angeles more than the aerospace industry, emitting 8,400,000 metric tons of CO2 statewide, the same magnitude of greenhouse gases emitted by the petroleum industry.

(Soundbite of song, "Hoorah for Hollywood")

UNGER: Hollywood, your job may be part of an industry that is killing the environment, but at least you're driving to that job in a cool, hybrid car. No one can take that away from you unless you're pulled over for DUI.

The noxious gas emitted by Hollywood doesn't derive just from Tom Cruise or a raw-food diet. It comes from the machinery of movie-making: trucks, generators and trailers. Special effects also pollute. Fires, explosions, earthquakes - they all emit particulate pollutants into the air.

And so, where there is a cause to rally 'round or an event that merely requires new shoes, Hollywood answers the call. This community - which has been a worldwide symbol of politically conscious, cosmetically-enhanced, self-absorbed, gay-friendly progressives - must now become carbon neutral.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Who is carbon neutral in Hollywood? The UCLA study cites two movies for their carbon-neutrality, one of them, "Syriana," starring George Clooney, another, "The Day After Tomorrow," starring Jake Gyllenhaal. During the filming of that story about extreme climate change associated with global warming, 10,000 tons of CO2 would have been emitted if not offset by the planting of trees and use of climate-friendly technology.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Still unanswered is whether Gyllenhaal did any permanent damage to "Brokeback Mountain" after the release of steaming hot gas from inside his tent.

Both sequels of "The Matrix" were recognized for their recycling of almost all set materials, not to mention plot, actors, and script. Some 37 truckloads of lumber were re-used in housing for low-income families in Mexico. Somewhere right now is a young Mexican boy eating supper from a table constructed from the wood of a bed where Keanu Reeves got naked with Carrie-Anne Moss.

UCLA researchers acknowledged one TV show, the sitcom "According to Jim," which has largely eliminated the use of paper in scriptwriting. Where the jokes went remains a mystery.

Overall, Hollywood receives the grade of C on its environmental report card. But to measure the TV and film industry only by its pollution is like measuring a chemical spill only by its toxicity, or a nuclear meltdown only by its radioactivity. Hollywood will get around to cleaning up its act, as soon as it gets back from lunch. And that is today's Unger Report, I'm Brian Unger.

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