Wednesday, August 07, 2013

"Carbon Nation": Summary advice on climate change from the 2010 festival circuit (better late than never)

Peter Byck’s “Carbon Nation” played at the DC Environmental Film Festival in March 2010, and is now readily available on Netflix video and DVD. 

The film opens with a model of the inner planets of the Solar System, explaining how Venus became a greenhouse tragedy.  Venus may have in fact reached its own tipping point less than a billion years ago.  It is conceivable that it could have housed life before this catastrophe. 

The tone of the film is optimistic, as to what the US can do to reduce carbon emissions and switch to clean energy, and it is also a bit preachy.  There is some re-airing of the statistics on carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere (rapidly increasing) that was so effective in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” (2005), one of the last films my late mother ever saw.  The United States has 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide; but heavily populated developing countries, especially China, will not be denied their opportunities.  The film makes the point that carbon dioxide emissions could reach a tipping point, releasing catastrophic amounts of methane from the permafrost.  (Methane is a much more damaging insulator than carbon dioxide, but it does dissipate more quickly.)

One of the most interesting and hopeful presentations occurs early in the film, where ranchers in west Texas discover they can earn a good income from massive wind power farms.

The film has an interesting line about the moral problem if "waiting for them to do something for us before we will do something for them" -- not just in climate change, but everything having to do with the "common good". 
The film is light on the Kyoto measure, and on how real carbon taxes or penalties could really be enforced, or how they might filter down to the individual level.

The official site (Clayway Media) is here

The 80-minute film ends with some specific “stewardship” advice, including meatless days, carpooling, use of public transportation, and advice to young people to become engineers.  Can the electric car really completely solve the auto pollution, carbon emission, and energy consumption problem?
The film can be viewed “free” on YouTube.  A rental price (maybe $1.99) ought to be charged. 

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