Carbon Nation: A Sobering Look at Green Solutions

Review of Environmental Documentary

Peter Byck’s Carbon Nation is an environmental documentary about solutions to global warming and climate change. It zones in on different regions of the U.S. that already utilize clean energy and provide interviews from a varied group of people, from the U.S. Military to a wind farmer in Roscoe, Texas.

While the documentary highlights the benefits of biofuel, lithium batteries, wind energy and mycorrhizal fungi, it also discusses simpler solutions, such as planting greenery on rooftops to cool buildings naturally, so people can start making a difference immediately.

It’s a simplified look at ways to better the environment and ignores some of the bigger questions, such as how to understand these solutions on a larger scale. The enthusiasm and light-hearted approach to problems facing the environment almost trivialize parts of the film that discuss military deaths due to oil transportation and an arbitrary tangent about the wind farmer’s lack of an arm. Peppy music coupled with lighthearted infographics down play the serious tone of such issues. Nonetheless, the film brings a lot of relevant issues to light.

While interviewees make judgment calls about the future of energy, the majority of the documentary is based on clean energy that people have already implemented in their homes and cities. Expert opinions in the film include Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, Former CIA Director James Woolsey, Bernie Karl a geothermal pioneer from Alaska, Art Rosenfeld the commissioner of California Energy Commission and Cliff Etheredge a West Texas wind pioneer, among others.

Viewers don’t need to believe in global warming to appreciate what Carbon Nation tries to accomplish in 80 minutes, that is – to travel cross the U.S. and take a look at various active efforts to bring clean energy into the spotlight. Like the film boasts, “a climate change solutions movie that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change.”

~Aditi Pai

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