The city of Los Angeles is principally famous for two things: glittering movies and suffocating smog. Now researchers have found that the two are not unconnected. A study by the University of California Los Angeles shows the film and television industry to be the second largest polluter in the Los Angeles area. Only the region’s oil refineries pump more pollutants into the air, it says.
While Hollywood has a reputation for pumping out unregulated quantities of hot air, the research is the first to quantify the industry’s emissions. The two-year study estimates that the industry emits 140,000 tonnes a year of ozone and diesel particulate emissions.
“People talk of ‘the industry’, but we don’t think of them as an industry,” said Mary Nichols, who heads UCLA’s Institute of the Environment. “We think of the creative side, the movie, the people, the actors – we don’t think of what it takes to produce the product.”
The findings also run counter to the perception of Hollywood as an environmentally conscious enclave. While many stars such as George Clooney espouse environmental concerns, and the fuel hybrid is the vehicle of choice for any self-respecting superstar, the studios are less scrupulous about the impact of their actions on the environment.
“Our overall impression is that, with a few notable and inspiring exceptions,” said the study’s authors, “environmental considerations are not high on the agenda in the film and television industry, and that more could be done within the industry to foster environmentally friendly approaches.”
The report outlined the exceptions, including the eco-catastrophe blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. The production company on that film paid $200,000 (£105,000) to take steps to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused by vehicles and generators used in the production.
Two of the Matrix films were also praised for ensuring that more than 97% of set materials were recycled.
But the main culprit for Hollywood’s pollution problem lies with the use of multiple sub-contractors and short-term production companies to provide everything from special effects to catering. The report noted that “the industry’s structure and culture hamper the pace of improvements”.
While many studios have individual programmes to establish recycling quotas, prevent air pollution and conserve natural resources, there is little regulation. Lisa Day, a spokeswoman for the production company behind Syriana, told the Associated Press: “I think the industry as a whole does look at itself. The studios have done a lot in terms of waste reduction. Energy is the new thing the industry is looking at and what impact they have.”
The report ranked the film and television industry ahead of aerospace manufacturing, clothing, hotels and semiconductor manufacturing as a polluter.
Filed Under: Environment