Unlikely eco-warrior: Rupert Murdoch

Billionaire aims for carbon-neutral company by 2010

Yes, Rupert Murdoch. The man who bears the title “arch-conservative” like an Homeric epithet. The man who, when lending his voice to an episode of “The Simpsons,” announced: “I’m Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant.” If the anti-conservation movement ever went looking for a spokesman, he would seem a logical first choice.

Yet the mogul has been heading in the opposite direction for some time, with an extra push coming from his son, BSkyB topper James Murdoch, who took the broadcaster carbon-neutral last year. The greening of Rupert, a virulent critic of the Kyoto Protocol as recently as 2003, reached its apotheosis last May, when he announced plans to make his massive News Corp. company carbon-neutral by 2010, as well as encouraging his affiliates to incorporate conservationist themes into their programming.

“Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats,” Murdoch said at the time. “We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.”

The mogul’s critics, after retrieving their jaws from the floor, responded to his plans by suggesting any number of untoward motives. But when News Corp. does go neutral, the carbon savings will be enormous — an estimated 641,150 tons of CO2 are generated annually by the company, meaning Murdoch’s eco heroics will surely rival those of his left-leaning antagonists.

So perhaps there may be method to his madness. How often can the man save the world and irritate Ted Turner at the same time?

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