Switch - Documentary on Energy


December 4, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to view a documentary, "Switch," produced by Dr. Scott Tinker, Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas and the State Geologist of Texas, and Harry Lynch, documentary filmmaker. Dr. Tinker uses as the premise for his film the question - When will the world ultimately switch from fossil fuels to cleaner, alternative energy sources? In the process, he examines the sources and uses of energy worldwide, their costs and benefits, in an engaging film that takes him from the huge open-pit coal mines in Wyoming to offshore oil rigs to a hydraulic energy plant in the Netherlands, from the top of a wind turban to solar energy farms, and from driving Tesla to installing more efficient heating and lighting systems in the home. In the process, he does what no film I have seen does -- provide a balanced, informed view of the role of energy in our modern world and where we are heading.

In addition to the film, Dr. Tinker has created a website, http://www.switchenergyproject.com/ , that provides additional short videos and other resources to further explore questions surrounding energy, including carbon capture, global warming, hydraulic fracturing, and alternative energy technologies. He interviews many world experts on global energy issues. The five energy issues you need to know, according to Dr. Tinker:

1. Energy drives the modern world and underpins every other issue.

2. We choose our energy based on four qualities: affordable, available, reliable and clean.

3. But clean is complicated. All energies have environmental impacts, which need to be managed effectively and affordably.

4. Even so, the biggest challenge of energy is scale - the enormous amount of energy we demand.

5. And the only way to counter scale, is with efficiency.

The website provides a calendar of screenings of the movie across the country and the world. I highly recommend that you look for it in your area, and see it. Finally, a balanced view of the large, long-range picture of our energy future.