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Climate Change

Published on April 1st, 2019 | by Tina Casey

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Hostile Planet: Hostile To Fossil Fuel, That Is (#CleanTechnica Interviews)

April 1st, 2019 by  


In the latest installment of CleanTechnica Goes To Hollywood, we visit the folks at National Geographic Channel, who are all abuzz over the new series Hostile Planet unspooling tonight on NGC at 9:00 Eastern Time (8:00 Central). So, what does that have to do with fossil fuel?

Everything! Hostile Planet aims squarely at the human role in climate change. With a roster of dazzling cinematic talent at the helm, the series draws attention to species like the three-banded armadillo, which are brilliantly adapted to some of the most hostile habitats on Earth and now face extraordinary threats from a warming world.

The Sound Of A Hostile Planet

Before we get to that thing about fossil fuel, Pan’s Lanbyrinth fans take note: behind-the-scenes credit for Hostile Planet includes cinematographer Guillermo Navarro as well as Martha Holmes, Tom Hugh-Jones, and Delbert Shoopman, with Bear Grylls hosting and narrating.

At a National Geographic Channel get-together in New York earlier this month, CleanTechnica buttonholed Kevin Mohs, NGC’s Vice President for Production and Development, to ask about the motivation behind the series.

“We did this story because, for every animal we feature, their world has changed,” he explained. “Animals that are specialized are in bad shape and are really in danger because they can’t adjust fast enough.”

Aside from spectacular visuals (we’ll get to that in a minute), Hostile Planet deploys a secret aural weapon. Mohs noted that the talent behind the scoring is Benjamin Wallfisch.

That’s Benjamin Wallfisch as in Dunkirk. Also Hidden Figures. And of course, Hellboy and Captain Marvel. And It.

Hostile Planet is quite a bounce for the prolific Mr. Wallfisch, and apparently the score has legs of its own. According to Variety, the company Milan Records is releasing the score in three installments, starting later this week.

Seeing Hostile Planet

If you notice that narration in Hostile Planet is somewhat minimalist, that’s no accident. At the NGC gathering CleanTechnica also crossed paths with Guillermo Navarro, who explained the storytelling approach behind Hostile Planet.

“I started doing documentaries at the beginning, and I brought that knowledge from documentaries to dramatic narrative,” he said. “Hostile Planet was a great opportunity to close the circle. Instead of visuals illustrating the text, the visuals connect emotionally.”

The Fossil Fuel Connection, USA Edition

Speaking of pictures telling the story, the enormous inland ocean that now occupies part of America’s midsection has finally brought the climate change story home to the heartland, and to millions of viewers across the US.

It seems that signs of a turnaround in public awareness on climate change are finally emerging.

On the other hand, fossil fuel stakeholders and their political allies (aka the usual suspects) exercise a considerable counterweight in Congress, to say nothing of the White House.

Fossil Fuel And The Bottom Line

On the other-other hand, the inexorable force of the bottom line is finally coming into play. Here in the US, wind and solar costs have dropped so low that business stakeholders have a direct dollars-and-sense justification for transitioning out of natural gas, coal, and oil.

Leading US companies have been leading the charge into renewable energy. Their demand for clean power is also having a ripple effect on utility companies and state legislatures as a matter of economic development and ratepayer demand.

The nation’s powerful fleet of rural electric cooperatives is also pivoting toward the energy transition. For RECs, renewables are a matter of local economic sustainability and fulfilling their mission as public benefit agencies (if that sounds kind of Green New Deal-ish, well, it is).

In another sure sign of more troubles to come, the mighty Tennessee Valley Authority is looking at renewables as as opportunity to return to its environmental conservation mission.

The US coal industry is especially vulnerable, and investors are beginning to catch on that coal mining is a risky business.

Natural gas and petroleum are next on the hit list. Energy efficiency is smothering the demand for new fossil fuel power and the building electrification movement is picking up steam.

Then there’s the electric vehicle revolution, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

US Energy Department Not Helping Fossil Fuels Much

Somewhat oddly, another glimmer of light is the US Department of Energy. The agency has continued to promote wind energy and solar power regardless of the fossil fuel boosterism emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In the latest in a long series of renewable energy initiatives, last week the agency okayed $130 million for a suite of foundational research projects aimed at pushing the cost of solar power down faster, and farther.

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Photo by Tina Casey: Athena the three-banded armadillo clams up at the Hostile Planet meet-and-greet in New York City. 
 





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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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