Green jobs, not jails
Van Jones, founder of Green For All, sees “almost a full employment economy based on retrofitting and rebooting a nation.”
Grid Alternatives is a program that reclaims people and neighborhoods. Talent, energy and drive are tapped. Some solar installers working on inner city homes are ex-convicts, Jones says. Some go on to own their own solar firms.
Wind boom revives Texas town
Cliff Etheredge, a wind and cotton farmer from Roscoe, Texas, builds the world’s largest wind farm. His son David moves back from Tampa to help.
The farm will power 250,000 homes. Each turbine will earn him $15,000 per year, with the surrounding land still usable for farming and ranching.
Cheapest energy in Alaska
Bernie Karl founded Chena Geothermal Power Plant in Hot Springs, Alaska, even though the geothermal fluid temperature is a relatively low 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
This energy will cost less than 7 cents per kilowatt hour, “the cheapest energy in the state of Alaska.” Karl and his partner are now working on five geothermal projects throughout the state.
Batteries used to heat and cool tractor trailers save 1 billion gallons of fuel each year. Hot industrial gases are captured and reused by steel mills. The Rodale Institute enhances soil health via organic farming.
Chicago City Hall’s Green Roof is covered with a prairie of native wildflowers and plants. Chief environmental officer Sadhu Johnston says this saves on air conditioning. A green roof averages 80 to 90 degrees, he says, while a black roof can reach 160 to 170 degrees.
Many small acts
Carbon emissions could be taxed. Meatless Mondays could be observed. If everyone used efficient light bulbs, “we could cut electricity use by 20%,” says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute.
Green swords into plowshares?
“Climate change is in fact a national security issue,” says Daniel A. Nalan III, a retired U.S. Army colonel. Nalan champions government investment in green technology. Lower prices would spark energy conversion, stretch defense dollars and lessen our dependence on oil.
The military could lead environmental modernization, Byck contends. President Harry Truman drove social change when he desegregated U.S. troops right after World War II.
Climate change threatens
In the northern Cascade Mountains of Washington state, 53 glaciers have disappeared in the past 60 years. Warmer temperatures bring more rain. This causes more storm runoff, and doesn’t replenish groundwater like slowly melting ice and snow.
Water wasted in the winter leads to summer drought. There is less output for hydropower, the state’s main source of electricity. Salmon populations are decreasing.
Retreating glaciers signal trouble in the Sierras, the Rockies, the Alps and the Himalayas. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events occur.
Whenever Carbon Nation delivers bleak news . . . cue the upbeat music! Byck leaps to a new topic. Being positive is admirable, yet this technique feels forced.
Greed a last-ditch motive
Joel Makower, executive editor of Greenbiz.com, urges the U.S. to compete. Solar energy was first commercialized in the U.S., he says. Now the largest solar companies are based in Japan and Germany. Denmark and Germany are home to major wind turbine manufacturers.
Dow Chemical has saved billions in energy costs. Walt Disney, Bank of America and Stonyfield Farms are saving big.
If you don’t believe in climate change, Byck says, go green because you’re greedy. (3 out of 5 stars)
If you like Carbon Nation, you might enjoy: Revenge of the Electric Car; The Last Mountain.
Carbon Nation 2010 / NR / 1 hour, 26 min
Cast Overview: Lester R. Brown, Richard Branson, Van Jones, Cliff Etheredge, Bernie Karl, Kristina Kershner, Amory B. Lovins, Peggy Rathmann, R. James Woolsey
Director: Peter Byck
Genre: Documentary, Environment, Energy