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October 23, 2008

‘Heat’ Burns Energy Execs

On Tuesday night, I took a deep breath and braced for more bad news as I settled down to watch Frontline’s two-hour climate investigation, “Heat.” The program, hosted by Frontline’s Martin Smith, focuses on how the world’s largest governments and corporations have responded — or not — to the worst environmental crisis of our time. But first, as the New York Times review points outs, there’s quite a bit of familiar-sounding history about carbon emissions and climate treaties. What makes it worth watching, though, are the many penetrating interviews with top energy executives. Smith confronts, among others, executives from Exxon Mobil and China’s coal giant, Shenhua Energy, about their lack of action on renewable energy — and receives mostly non-answers, as one might anticipate. (In one memorable Michael Moore-esque moment he tells GM’s Vice president for environmental affairs in regards to the company’s lagging environmental innovation, “Toyota is eating your lunch.”)I also found the detailed segments on the hopes and problems associated with clean coal and ethanol to be especially enlightening, considering how often our presidential candidates casually mention them in discussing their energy plans.So was my initial brace for the worst warranted? Well, yes. The news about climate change, as you know, continues to get bleaker. But Smith’s focus on business is original, so if you have a few hours, do check it out — it’s available in full online. …You might want to have some cartoons ready to watch afterwards. Or instead, you could watch the winners of an online video contest aimed at convincing the next administration and the public to take action on climate change. The first place video is short and sweet. (Thanks, Dot Earth.)