In the process of surveying future career shifts and educational goals, I've spent the last several months searching out books and films about environmental issues and their solutions. Carbon Nation is a documentary film by Peter Byck about the growing worldwide carbon footprint. Instead of getting bogged down in the discussion about what is causing the problem, this film discusses solutions to meet our worldwide energy needs through lower carbon, carbon neutral, and renewable means.
Carbon Nation feels like an unbiased, all-encompassing look at sustainable energy practices. For instance, included in the discussion is the Evangelical Climate Initiative as well as interviews with renewable energy advocates who do not believe in climate change. The point the movie makes is that in the end, how we got here does not matter. We all need to work together to protect our environment and way of life.
One thing about wind power I didn’t realize before watching the film is that the land used for wind turbines can still be utilized for farming and ranching, which seems like a good business strategy for struggling farmers in the nation’s bread basket. Also, the Department of Energy has estimated that the wind potential in Texas, the Dakotas, Montana, and Kansas exceeds current energy needs in the US.
Another surprise for me was that deforestation accounts for 20% of the world’s carbon emissions, which is larger than the portion attributed to all transportation sectors. In addition to loss of biomass, soil erosion leads to other environmental impacts. If farmers and landowners of developing countries could be persuaded to harvest their forests in a sustainable way, and set aside land for grazing and Eco tourism, new sources of income could be tapped while protecting the environment.
Carbon Nation is full of ideas to meet the world’s energy needs in a renewable and environmentally friendly way. The film is upbeat and approachable, no matter your political or ideological views, which serves as a stark contrast to other environmental films such as An Inconvenient Truth. I highly recommend Carbon Nation if you have an interest in the environment, energy, or if you like Bill Kurtis’ voice (he’s the narrator).