Not Green: NBC Beijing Olympic Set Air Conditioned -- Outdoors

     The NBC family of networks has no problem showing viewers how to save the planet. But if it is a muggy, smoggy 85 degrees, as is the forecast for Beijing this week, consider looking elsewhere for eco-inspiration.


     WTHR, the NBC affiliate for Indianapolis, reported from Beijing and described the NBC set used for the network's two highest rated news broadcasts, “NBC Nightly News” and “Today,” as air conditioned – even though it is outdoors.


     “The set is outside, but air conditioning vents make the weather bearable,” Anne Marie Tiernon wrote for WTHR Eyewitness News on August 14.


     Even NBC “Today” co-host Matt Lauer remarked about the air conditioning, but said it was still uncomfortable even with it.


     “The first couple of nights even with the air conditioning it was steamy in here, but we've been lucky ever since,” Lauer said to WTHR. “It’s been overcast some days, takes the temperature down. We call it fog smog.”


     Last fall, the network performed a publicity stunt on its November 4 broadcast of its highly rated Sunday Night NFL Football show, “Football Night in America.” The broadcast used limited lighting for the broadcast and even went completely dark for the final moments of the program.


     The effort was to raise awareness and set an example for the rest of the country, however, the same example isn’t being set for the broadcast from the world’s biggest polluter, China.


     Less than two months ago, NBC was painting climate change as an issue of American national security. NBC chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson said on the June 25 “NBC Nightly News” that: “The world’s thirst for energy is creating an environmental crisis that could soon become a security crisis for the United States.”


     Other media have criticized American over-dependence on air conditioning. According to Joe Klein of Time magazine, air conditioning represents an estimated 4 percent of U.S. energy use.


     “But that’s still pretty egregious,” Klein wrote for Time on June 25, in a column encouraging people to “kill their air conditioner” for the sake of the environment. “We used an estimated 4 quadrillion British thermal units on air-conditioning in 2006, which is more than the total energy usage of all but 21 countries. And a fair amount of that is peak usage — the sort that sends the electric grid crackling toward brownouts and meltdowns and increases the demand for the construction of more electric power plants.”