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Monday, March 25, 2013

Film on future of energy screens here

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Switch, a globe-trotting new documentary exploring society’s energy options, gets a free screening at Pitt tomorrow night.

The feature-length film’s narrator and co-writer is geologist and educator Scott Tinker, who travels the planet visiting sites pertinent to everything from fracking, peak oil and “clean coal” to nuclear energy and renewables. He interviews leaders in government, business and academia about the attractions and risks of each energy source, and about the world’s growing demand for energy.

The well-reviewed film, directed by Harry Lynch, is currently touring university campuses.

Sounds worth seeing, but keep your antenna up: The film’s promo materials say it's "agenda-free" and tout its “balance.” Often in discussions of energy, that’s code for “let’s compromise on pollution” or “all energy sources have their downsides, so let’s keep using them all.”

It’s also curious that you can fart around on the website for quite a while — or watch the film's two-and-a-half minute trailer — without finding any mention of climate change, which is merely the single largest energy-related issue on earth. (The site seems to note it only by implication, as when mentioning "carbon policy.")

The film’s a key component of GSA Switch, a project of the Geological Society of America.

Tinker himself is director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, and is State Geologist of Texas. University geology departments are noted for their ties to the fossil-fuel industry, and I don’t guess those in Texas are any exception. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, a writer on Treehugger.com — who recommends seeing Switch — has called out a Chesapeake Energy official for lying on camera about the risks of fracking.

Judging from its website, the film ends up touting energy efficiency as the way forward.

Anyway, see for yourself at 8 p.m. Tue., March 26, in Thaw 104, 4107 O'Hara St., on the Pitt campus, in Oakland. It's hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Geology Club.

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