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If you tune in to Fox every Monday night, you know that the clock is ticking in more ways than one. Every week, Fox airs a new episode of 24 with Jack Bauer racing against time to save thousands of American lives, and so it’s only fitting that actor Kiefer Sutherland and his fellow cast and crew members have signed on to raise global warming awareness.

Now, Sutherland is busy saving the world both on and off the set. 24 recently announced that it will be the first ever carbon neutral TV show. After announcing last year that it would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the show, it successfully cut its carbon footprint by 43%.

The makers of 24 will continue making the show more eco-friendly until it has no carbon footprint at all. It began with baby steps such as switching to compact fluorescent lighting and purchasing electricity from renewable power sources, but even these baby steps made huge differences.

In February, Clear Carbon Consulting released an in-depth analysis explaining how the makers of the show limited their energy usage and began to make the switch to green technology during Season Seven, “including using alternative fuels (bio-diesel) and driving hybrid vehicles on set. Switching to hybrid vehicles helped avoid using more than 1,300 gallons of gasoline during Season Seven. To put this in perspective, 1,300 gallons of gas would be enough to drive a traditional mid-sized vehicle from L.A. to New York 10 times.”

It certainly helps to have the cast and crew driving hybrids around the set, but the show’s action sequences are also responsible for damaging the environment, as the production team will be the first to admit.

Cars have to explode on 24, right? The show, which has bobbed up and down in popularity throughout its seven seasons, has been in danger of the chopping block more than once. The frequent exploding car may just be its saving grace.

24 quenches our thirst for justified violence. The torture scenes and gun fights (which quickly devolve into fisticuffs) give audiences the violence they crave when they tune in. The fiery car with the villain and his underlings trapped inside is the icing in the yellowcake-plutonium-laced plot. Without a car or a plane or something exploding, you have no 24.

So how, in an increasingly carbon neutral world, do you set a car on fire and let it explode, sending billowing clouds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? Well, simply put, car explosions in action-packed TV shows and movies would become a thing of the past if it weren’t for carbon offsets. According to News Corp’s website Global Energy Initiative, “24 has purchased high-quality carbon offsets to address its remaining unavoidable emissions.” Planting trees to sop up the greenhouse gases we spew into the atmosphere is one well known carbon offset, and purchasing carbon offsets is a way to make up for our bad habits.

That means the cars will keep on burning, and maybe 24—and the environment along with it—will survive for at least a little while longer. / Issue 95 - September 2018
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