Photo: mroach, Flickr/CC BY-SA
I realize that this mini-controversy has largely come and gone -- the one in which Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News' parent company News Corp, declared it 'carbon neutral' -- but there are still reports popping up praising the company's 'green' efforts even now, months later. I just wanted to quickly clear the air here: so as long as it is responsible for Fox News (and a host of other climate-denial spouting publications), News Corp cannot call itself carbon neutral. Period. Just yesterday, the carbon offset provider Terrapass ran an article about how awesome News Corp's green initiatives are. See them heap on the praise here:
Occasionally we see examples of how it should be done - the prototype of a corporate sustainability program that makes good business sense, articulates long-term goals (and sticks with them), and acknowledges the importance of environmental issues for companies across multiple industries. The fact that one such example is News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, may surprise you. But it shouldn't.
Well, it doesn't surprise me. At all. In fact 'green' initiatives like this may appear to be the 'serious' kind of commitments to improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions that the progressive business world applauds, but it's actually a great example of a business making a pretty-looking 'green' contribution while keeping its most environmentally-damaging exports fully in tact.
News Corp owns and operates Fox News, which, by continuously spouting outright misinformation about climate change, has done more to prevent the establishment of good climate policy, both here in the US, and by extension, on an international level, than any other media outlet in the world. And this is an institutional problem -- Fox reporters are actually instructed by management to fabricate dissent against climate science -- and therefore one that could be corrected, if CEO Rupert Murdoch were so inclined to.
As anyone who follows climate policy knows, the world won't (or can't) move on climate until the US comes to the table with a meaningful emissions reductions targets approved by Congress. And Fox News has been one of the most important instruments in preventing the American public from understanding the realities of climate science and severity of the threats it predicts, and keeping the pressure off legislators to address climate. The network has, needless to say, been a crucial player in industry-led efforts to stymie any attempt to pass clean energy or climate legislation that would seriously reduce carbon pollution.
That being the case, News Corp is indirectly responsible for untold amounts more carbon emissions than almost any other corporation in the nation. Don't get me wrong. It's fine that Murdoch decided to use energy more efficiently and buy carbon offsets -- but in the scheme of things, these reductions are next to meaningless. It'd be like Koch Industries getting their office buildings LEED certified, ignoring the massive pollution its very profitable factories spew out, and calling the company carbon neutral anyway.
It's a cosmetic change that doesn't address the root of the problem -- if Murdoch actually wanted to do something about climate, he'd encourage Roger Ailes and the editorial board to not lie about climate change. That would make a real difference -- and it would eventually spare the world billions of tons of global warming-causing greenhouse gas pollution. The reason we're in such trouble is that even guys like Rupert Murdoch, who claim to understand the threat of climate change, aren't willing to modify their profitable industries to address the problem in a meaningful, sincere way.