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Monday, February 25, 2008

Should I Be Boycotting the Oscars?

I'll admit it. I watched the Oscars last night. While I was disappointed that local girl Ellen Page didn't win, I was mildly entertained for the evening. Yes, I'm a movie geek.

After 4 hours, I began to wonder, what is this costing in terms of carbon footprint? For me, I already know it's not much. Maybe $0.06 worth of electricity total and I'll make up for that by turning off the power bar when I'm done.

But what about the massive number of viewers around the world? You always hear about the 2 -3 BILLION people that watch the Oscars, a number that seems quite high for me considering that only 1 or 2 in ten Americans watch the show, the rest of the world would have to tune in en masse despite the fact that the Oscar-nominated films are largely in English and are on television during the middle of the night or the work day for most of the planet.

So let's assume, conservatively then, that only 100 million people watched the broadcast worldwide. Based on figures from CarbonFootprint.com, you could estimate that the watching of the Oscars would have been responsible for 43,200 tonnes of CO2 (assuming an average of 2 people per tv).

0.2kW x 4 hours x 50,000,000 tv sets x 1.08 kg/kW = 43,200,000 kg of CO2

Even if we blindly deny the impact of CO2 on the environment, this still represents $9,000,000 worth of electricity spent on watching one television program. That a lot of wasted opportunity. What if it was 2 billion viewers?

And I haven't even mentioned the costs of the production (which were greener this year), the one-use gowns, the transportation and flights to make it happen.

Maybe we should celebrate that the early reports suggest it was an all time low viewing audience. Next year, I'll read the results the next day.
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