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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Earth: The Operators' Manual

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April 01, 2011

Movie Review Friday: Earth: The Operators' Manual

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Airing on PBS next week

Few things are more frustrating to an environmentalist than encountering someone who denies the existence of climate disruption. In a new PBS documentary premiering next week, author and glaciologist Richard Alley, a member of the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. climate committee, provides an arsenal of data and science to counter the skeptics.

Billing himself as "a registered Republican [who] plays soccer on Saturdays and goes to church on Sundays," Alley wants viewers to know that he's not coming from a place of political ideology. Instead, he presents a balanced and purely scientific account of why warming is happening, how science clearly indicates that it's human-induced, and what we need to do about it. Going beyond a basic recap of the greenhouse-gas effect, Alley provides a wealth of technical science — from carbon's different isotopes and their sources to an accounting of the global energy budget — in digestible ways.

While not everyone shares a sense of urgency about confronting climate issues (Congress comes to mind), Alley highlights cities, government agencies, and countries that are making progressive strides. From the Pentagon's low-energy training bases to Houston's push for electric cars, viewers meet people who are way past the point of mere debate.

According to Alley, the collective challenge we face is twofold: First, dealing with an increasingly inhospitable climate, and second, providing for a growing population that has a voracious energy appetite. However, as this documentary proves, science can serve as an operators' manual by which to solve both these problems for future generations.

--Rosie Spinks

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