Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Flipping through the channels on Tuesday night I came across a new episode of Frontline entitled HEAT. The summary looked interesting, so I decided to watch. Not surprisingly, it was superb.

If you aren't familiar with Frontline, it is a show which airs weekly on PBS. Each episode is essentially a two hour long video report on a given topic. The length of the program and the fact that each episode focuses one only one issue (unlike other news magazine programs), allows the reporter to thoroughly explore every aspect of the given topic. Additionally, the reporting is generally remarkably unbiased, with tough interviews of influential representatives on both sides of a given issue.

The episode which aired Tuesday was HEAT, "A global investigation into one of the greatest crises that mankind has ever faced -- Can we roll back global warming?" It began by discussing some of the causes and effects of climate change and then dove into the economic and political forces which have been and are continuing to drive our nation's (and the world's) energy policy.

Some of the more interesting topics which were highlighted and discussed included the advantages of and barriers to carbon sequestration, the glaring lack of investment of oil companies in alternative energy, and (most importantly) the absurdity of ethanol as a viable sustainable energy option. It even touched on topics like the rise and fall and rise again of the electric car at GM and the huge increase in carbon emmissions of India (several hundred million new drivers will be taking to the streets) and China (where they currently building new coal plants at the rate of 2 a day).

If you missed it, the entire video is available here, on the PBS website, and I'd highly recommend watching. While I was in grad school at UVA I took a class on energy policy and since then this is the most thorough, non-biased overview of the factors currently influencing our country's energy policy that I've seen.

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