This column goes live in the week the recently resurrected and scaled-back Inflation Reduction Act (formerly ‘Build Back Better’) is apparently halfway between its passage through the Senate last weekend and approval. presumed Chamber in the coming days en route to finally landing on the Resolute Desk – or wherever Joe Biden can affix his signature to it, while the momentum is still palpable.
Rather than rehashing its head start provisions, in terms of things like medical insurance cuts, or near misses, like the lack of an insulin price cap for anyone without the age of Medicare (in which case, if someone in your family has diabetes, you’re definitely going to continue to need that union insurance), we’ll briefly look at the bill’s putative climate-collapse measures, since – in the spirit of everything, everywhere, all at once, being inextricably linked together now – climatic considerations and keeping an eye on “wet bulb temperatures” are likely to be an increasingly important part of the safety planning on set. Especially when he’s there.
As for the invoice, as the washington post synopsis“To respond to the rapidly warming planet, Democrats have set aside about $370 billion for energy security and climate change. Investments include a slew of tax credits to encourage wind, solar and other renewable energy sources while helping people buy new or used electric vehicles and install energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in their homes Bill creates $1.5 billion program dollars that includes new payments for companies that reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, with penalties for companies that do not.
In order to do all of this, the bill also included provisions to boost fossil fuels – the very stuff that got us into this existential deadlock – including, unfortunately, one “to impose new oil and gas leases in the Gulf.” of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, while party leaders have pledged to pursue a separate bill in the coming months that makes it easier for developers to pass certain environmental objections.
Any objections, perhaps, as if you can really have a thriving economy on a dead planet? In any event, such arrangements were necessary to gain Joe Manchinand the bill represents the largest omnibus legislation directed at — and the largest spending on — climate change mitigation ever by the federal government.
Will it be enough?
Well, this column is also written in the midst of many record-breaking heat waves in the northeast and Europe, the ongoing assessment of flood damage in Kentucky (likely made worse by strip-mined hills that couldn’t hold moisture, let alone deluges), and more. All of that will be replaced by new weather titles in a month or two.
Much of what will happen to our climate (and everything it affects – well, like everything, but especially growing food, building houses, traveling, etc.) is already, dare we say, embedded in the atmosphere now, but anything and everything that can be done to mitigate further damage is not only welcome but grossly overdue.
These thoughts were dancing even before the Cut Inflation Act became an emerging reality, after seeing an article in one of IATSE’s weekly bulletins about crew members on commercial sets trying to unionize.
We are not, of course, talking about the ASC/Local 600-level DPs who might shoot these commercials, or the SAG-AFTRA members who act in them, but rather the commercial production workers who, the the accompanying video reminds usare “some of the only non-union workers on set” and, unlike their studio counterparts, have even less protection against the abuse of tiny turnarounds, 36-hour “workdays”, extra commutes -long (without provisions for nearby trips). housing) even in the midst of exhaustion, where an overturned car, or a horrible accident, is only a short drowsy away.
BREAKING: Commercial production workers unionize with @IATSE to combat the nightmarish conditions they face – heat exhaustion, abuse, days longer than 16 hours without overtime pay.
For decades, these workers were among the only non-union workers on the set.
That’s about to change. pic.twitter.com/I9hDTGG3pJ
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) July 21, 2022
On top of all that, there was something else that was striking about long hours, and not just the finding that with fixed fees for their work, poorly managed and stretched working hours routinely break down into an hourly wage of smaller and smaller.
It was a story shared by the production supervisor Kit Garchowwho spoke of having had less than 24 hours to set up a shoot in the middle of the desert, where it was 115 degrees (in the shade), resulting in a day that saw three hospitalizations, and six others sent home due to heat exhaustion.
“This job,” he says, “is so dangerous if proper precautions are not taken.”
It’s always been the case, of course, that the production is sloppy not only when it comes to extreme temperatures, but also how weapons or moving vehicles are handled on set, and a myriad of other points. “inflection” where, if proper attention is not given, things can go disastrously wrong.
Filming outside, in the heat, is increasingly going to become one of those inflection points, as conditions that may once have defined familiar places, or easy-to-reach places in the proverbial “zone of thirty miles”, change rapidly with a constantly destabilizing climate. .
Where is it “wet bulb temperatures” Come in. Simply put, these are temperatures (derived from observations made by wrapping a damp cloth around thermometer bulbs) where the humidity, or in this case your sweat, stops cooling you, because there are so many moisture in the air, that sweat has nowhere to evaporate “to”, and so you stay more soggy, but get hotter and hotter.
Up to a point – a point lower than it would be in “dry” heat – this temperature quickly becomes deadly.
Or as a Kansas City Magazine article To summarize, when looking at weather changes in the Midwest, “temperatures as low as ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit can be insurmountable when paired with high humidity. Temperatures of ninety-five degrees with ninety-five percent humidity can kill.
So now imagine outdoor locations in the favorite production areas of the tax havens of the Southeast, where it is already humid, which keeps getting warmer. Or imagine already warm places — looking at you, New Mexico and SoCal — getting wetter.
What will be the safety parameters of already grueling location shoots as the weather becomes less stable?
Will location shoots (whether you’re unionized or not, although being part of it would certainly offer more protection in these pushed scenarios) become, more and more, a thing of the past, as crews fold over LED volumes to recreate what is – or was – ‘outside?’ (Shades of Edward G. Robinsonit is death chamber scene in soy green!)
The implications are not only far-reaching for showbiz (especially given the amount of time team members are expected to spend away when localizing), but consider what they’ll eventually mean for esports, construction, engineering and agricultural work.
As Garchow says later in the video, addressing the constant burnout and turnover in his ranks, “we want to create a sustainable industry. Right now, that’s just not sustainable in any way.
The same can of course be said of much of modern life, its economic and other structures. As a NASA climatologist Pierre Kalmus tweeted after the IRA passed in the Senate while calling for even deeper climate action: “We are already in dangerous territory at the current 1.3C and it is escalating very quickly from here .”
Or as a certain songwriter wrote, “you don’t need a meteorologist to know which way the wind is blowing.”
A wind that is coming, whether you’ve been sent to spend hours working outside in 115 degree heat – or you’re one of the growers sending people out there.
Marc London Williams is a BTL alum who currently covers Hollywood, its content and its discontents, in his recurring post “Across the Pond” for British cinematographer magazine, contributes to other showbiz and production-focused sites, and occasionally collects zombie, pandemic-themed, or demon-tinged books and scripts, causing increased fuzziness in terms of what still looks like The fiction”.
Mark London Williams’ Union Roundup column will appear every Tuesday. You can reach him for advice and feedback at [email protected]. It can also be found on Twitter @TricksterInk.