I just watched the Discovery Channel’s 2-hour special on climate change. It airs again on Saturday at 8pm ET/PT. See http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/globalwarming/globalwarming.html. There is also a “live chat” with Dr. Michael Oppenheimer online after the program, which is interesting to browse through.
Overall I thought it was very well done. It was rather focused on the scientific side, in the sense that all of the people interviewed were scientists. In terms of visual appeal, it probably does better than Gore’s movie. (Maybe “appeal” is the wrong word … footage of flooding tropical islands is not very inspiring).
Some of the stuff on the “solutions” segment was interesting. For instance, I have often been skeptical of the claim that we can make a major shift in our emissions without significant lifestyle changes. But apparently the average American family can reduce its emissions 60% by improving the efficiency of appliances and cars and buying more local food.
There was also talk of what New York City has been doing to become more environmentally conscious (mostly green building design and more efficient cabs and buses). Unfortunately they didn’t really substantially address the fact that public transit is not available in many places and, in cities where it is available, people much prefer cars to buses. So the fact that NYC has more efficient buses is good, but it would be better if more people rode them. I guess there wasn’t time to go into some of the more creative solutions that other cities have made to improve public transit (see e.g. the city of Curitiba in Brazil: http://www.solutions-site.org/artman/publish/article_62.shtml). People will always prefer the most convenient method of transit, and if a bus system can be designed that is more efficient and faster than car travel (by having designated bus lanes), people will probably go for it. In Curitiba, for example, the buses transport 1.9 million people every day!
Still, even though the show was a little short on creative solutions, it definitely served its purpose. The presentation of the science was fairly clear and unequivocal. And the point that we can start taking action now with affordable, available technology is very important even if the show didn’t go into some of the more innovative case studies.