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When It Comes To Climate And Personal Responsibility, Hollywood Needs To Look In The Mirror

A Gulfstream Aerospace G-V business jet flies with a cloudy sky in the background.
Private jet on descent into LAX. Celebrities' use of private planes, particularly for short trips, is under scrutiny.
(xiphias
/
Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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I was attending Comic-Con International in San Diego back in 2009 when I struck up a conversation with one of Cameron Diaz’s representatives. That Friday was winding down, meaning traffic back to Los Angeles was building fast. So I asked this person whether he and Diaz would jump on a train (Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner took me about 2½ hours to return) or wait for traffic to die down. Neither, he said. We flew down.

Do the stories that Hollywood tells about itself really reflect what's going on?

That anyone could possibly defend such a fleeting private jet flight is one thing. That Diaz — who before Comic-Con had been an organizer of “Save Our Selves – The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis” — would accede to such a CO2-spewing ride is quite another.

“This is the only issue in the history of mankind that affects every single one of us — our planet is in danger,” Diaz said of climate change when announcing the campaign.

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Her representative told me he saw nothing wrong in the quick flight. To be fair, it's been a number of years since, and maybe Diaz has switched travel agents. But at that very same Comic-Con, I shared my train with Rob Friedman, then the co-chair of “Twilight” studio Summit Entertainment and actor Breckin Meyer.

The right has targeted Hollywood as an elitist outpost for decades. While some of the criticism is displaced and unspecific, there’s ample reason to cast the entertainment industry as environmentally hypocritical.

Rather than do as I say about the environment, these high-profile people are actually some of the worst offenders.

A recent examination by the British marketing agency Yard was titled, “Just Plane Wrong: Celebs with the Worst Private Jet Co2 Emissions.” Its research found that by the end of July, private jets registered to a variety of bold-faced names (including Jay-Z and Taylor Swift) had generated 3,376 metric tons of CO2 this year — nearly 500 times an average person’s emissions.

Among the worst offenders: Steven Spielberg. Yes, he has said, "I'm terrified of global warming.” But he’s apparently even more afraid of flying commercial. His private jet flights this year already exceed 60 trips, the Yard concluded.

It’s not just planes. It’s water, too.

The Los Angeles Times just called out several show business veterans for grossly excessive water usage in the midst of a horrific drought that has prompted emergency rationing. According to data from the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District that the Times reviewed, Sylvester Stallone’s mansion in June used about 533% more water than budgeted by the district — more than 200,000 excess gallons. (Stallone’s attorney said the “Rocky” actor owns hundreds of trees that require water.)

Hollywood is always quick to tell other people what they should do.

If it wants any credibility, it might start by looking in the mirror.

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John Horn, entertainment reporter and host of our weekly podcast Retake, explores whether the stories that Hollywood tells about itself really reflect what's going on?