Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

If you plan to have a discussion after the Watch Party, here are some topics, keyed to the three programs, which just might get things going:

Program 1, "EARTH: The Operators' Manual"

  • What was new for you in watching this program?
  • Richard Alley explains how ice core research and analyzing the chemistry of the increasing amounts of CO2 show that that the atmosphere today is unlike anything in the past 800,000 years, and that it's clearly humans burning fossil fuels, not natural processes, that are changing things. Did this seem new? Convincing?
  • Were you surprised by Admiral Titley’s comments on climate change?
  • Did you know the Army, Navy and Marines were already seriously committed to using alternative fuels, to save lives as well as energy? Do you think there are parallels between what the military is doing to secure its bases, and what our entire nation might do to secure its energy supplies?
  • Richard reviews the large potential renewable energy resources Earth offers. Of course, it takes engineering and investment to harvest those sources of power, but did this leave you feeling more optimistic about the future?
  • What clean and sustainable energy resources might work for your community and state? Are there plans for the future, or projects already underway?
  • What questions do you have for ETOM? Remember, you can always "Ask Richard."
     

Program 2, "POWERING THE PLANET"

  • What was new for you in watching this program?
  • Making biofuel from sugar cane won’t work for the USA, and there are serious issues with ethanol made from corn, but did you find Brazil's success in replacing gasoline with ethanol interesting? Anything we could learn from that nation?
  • Søren in Samsø and Cliff in Texas succeeded in getting their neighbors to replace "Not in my Backyard" (NIMBY) with "Yes in my Backyard." Could what they did work in your community?
  • "Clean coal" is pretty controversial: did you find Julio Friedman's and Albert Lin's comments that we can't eliminate coal immediately, and so we have to pay the price to burn it more cleanly convincing?
  • What was that bungy jumping scene all about? Anyone here ever bungy-ed? (The ice core record shows that sometimes Earth's climate can change really quickly—18 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 years in the example Richard gives. We really should think, deeply and now, about whether we're pushing the Earth system too hard by continuing to emit CO2.)
  • Was the argument about the comparative cost of the "Sanitation Smart Grid" to the price of transitioning to low-carbon energy new to you? Was it convincing? (By the way, the longer we wait, the more costly that transformation will be.)
  • Do you agree with John Hofmeister that the US faces an "Energy Abyss"? How do you rate the candidates currently running for office in terms of their energy policies?
  • The last sequence in the program shows three communities that are making changes. Do you think that local changes can make a difference nationally? Or do we really need a new national energy policy that transcends parties and successive Administrations?
  • What questions do you have for ETOM? Remember, you can always "Ask Richard."
     

Program 3, "ENERGY QUEST USA"

  • What was new for you in watching this program?
  • Were you surprised to hear Lisa Murkowski be so bullish on Alaska's renewable potential?
  • We tried to be balanced, as Shirley Jackson recommended, about the promise and problems of fracking for natural gas: what do you think? Is this an issue for your community? What would it take to do fracking responsibly? Would that convince you to support it? And if not natural gas, what mix of energy resources do you think we should have?
  • Dan Yergin says that conservation is a really big deal: seeing what’s happening in Kansas and Baltimore, what could you do, right away, in your home, school, workplace, college, neighborhood, city? What’s going on, to promote energy sustainability? What are the barriers?
  • What can folks at this Watch Party do to move things forward? Next steps?
  • Can you think of things that citizens, city government, utilities and local businesses can do? Are you going to write letters and send e-mails? Raise some of these topics at the next Congressional Town Hall?
  • Could what Portland has already done make sense in your community? What would it take for you to cut back car trips by 20%? (Car-pooling, combining errands, working from home sometimes if that’s possible. There are some surprising facts and practical tips in our "Owner's Manual.")
  • What questions do you have for ETOM? Remember, you can always "Ask Richard."

 

 

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