Earth: The Operators' Manual

Ratings: 7.19/10 from 54 users.


Earth: The Operators' Manual

All over the globe people are trying to decrease their reliance on fossil fuels and endorse sustainable energy alternatives. In some parts of the world - China, Europe and Brazil - energy novelties are altering the way we live, and the US military is trying to reduce its carbon footprint. In this documentary, we'll see how we know that Earth is heating up, and why, and find out what science advise us about clean, green energy possibilities.

Richard Alley is a geologist at Pennsylvania State University, but his inquiries made him travel all over the planet, from Greenland to Antarctica. He's captivated by how our climate has seriously and frequently transformed our planet, from times with ice in all places to no ice on the planet.

Richard was also a former oil company employee, and he's aware how much we all depend on energy. The best science clearly demonstrates we'll be much better off if we focus on the narratives of climate change and energy, and the sooner we take matters into our own hands the better. Our exploitation of fossil fuels for energy is driving us towards a climate conditions never before seen in the history of the mankind.

Homo sapiens is energy dependent... we always were, and always will be. But how we apply energy is now crucial for our continuation. It all began long time ago with a simple fire and today we ended up burning fossil fuels. Now we're seven billion of us and we're heading toward 10 billion. Today, the cities, nations, and civilizations rely upon gigantic quantities of energy.

Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) make up almost 80% of the energy consumed in the whole world. Nuclear is lower than 5%, hydro-power a little over 6% and the other renewable sources (solar, wind and geothermal) about 1%, but increasing rapidly. Timber and manure provide the rest.

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36 Comments / User Reviews

  1. User_001

    Nothing new here, but I can see this as a doc to present to the climate change deniers. A registered Republican giving these guys the news they been avoiding all these years? Just might work!

  2. WTC7

    I don't think anyone is denying the climate change. The way I understand it, what is being denied is that the climate change is caused by humans.

  3. bringmeredwine

    I keep hearing people make comments to the effect that, how could there be global warming if its so cold this winter. I'm in Canada. I couldn't give you any concrete data on the people who think/say this, though!

  4. WTC7

    I don't think the doc shoots anyone down as it doesn't bring anything new into the climate change picture - as you said it yourself.

  5. WTC7

    I live in the southeastern Europe with the so called continental climate. Per definition, that translates into warm summers and harsh winters (up to -30 degrees Celsius, night time). When I was a kid (hmmmm, quite some time ago) the winters were truly such - harsh. Since some couple of decades ago that started changing gradually and in the last few years I don't think we even had winters and during summers we now have temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. Yes, the climate is changing, regardless of whoever says the opposite (and I don't have any data on this myself, I just live long enough to observe it). Cheers

  6. Pysmythe

    I believe I've lived long enough to observe it, too. Interesting thing is, though, I was born and raised in the Southeastern U.S., where you can fry chicken on your head from June through September, but for 19 years I've lived in the Northeastern U.S., and I'm pretty sure the winters there as a kid were colder, on the whole, than the ones I've experienced here. Of course, I had a smaller surface area... and I was a lot thinner, lol. But anyone who denies human-caused climate change at this point is likely to have an economic and/or religious agenda behind it, in my view.

  7. Pysmythe

    I just remembered seeing something recently about solar cycles maybe playing a role, too, but I haven't looked into it enough to really have an opinion.

  8. bringmeredwine

    Our winters are still brutally cold, but the heat waves in Summer have gotten longer and more severe. Cheers back at ya.

  9. bringmeredwine

    Until I watched this, I thought volcano eruptions had lots to do with the excessive carbon emissions problem. I knew people did their share too, though.

  10. johnBas5

    Solar cycles have been researched and turn out to not correlate with global warming. Not solar activity, not sunspot activity.

  11. User_001

    This past and some would rightly say our continuing cold winter in the northern hemisphere is/was a pretty f'ing cold one no doubt. One couldn't use one season to have any judgement on the progression of our climate though. Now if it happened for quite a number of winters, yeah there maybe an argument there! But that isn't what is happening to our climate.

    I'm in SoCal and to tell you the truth. I barely had to turn on the heat all winter! I'm pretty sure I could have gotten by without ever using the heat just by "bundling up". And this has been the "winters" here for some time now. We barely have any seasons here anymore!

  12. bringmeredwine

    I am literally dripping with envy!
    It's 21degrees F.
    No Spring in sight.
    It's been way colder than this since before Christmas, ugh!
    The coldest winter since 1979.
    Please soak up some sun for me today:)

  13. Kansas Devil

    Solar panels are still over $1 per watt. Wind turbines are also still too expensive for the average working American. Alternative energy systems are still far from being mostly automated for the lazy consumer.
    All that money the military is spending has not translated into a marketable product faster than other products have. Drone technology has translated faster than energy since you can buy your kid a drone at Radio Shack for Christmas but the solar and wind kits are still just temporarily distracting experiments.
    Until market forces get their act in gear, alternative and supplemental energy will remain a slow growth industry.

  14. jackal

    We've lived next to a big lake (90 km long) here in British Columbia for the past 50 years or so. Old timers tell us that it froze over so thick back in the '30's and '40's that they were able to drive across it. The last time it froze even partially was in 1969 when we lived here. Since then there has only been frozen ice on the edges. Also, we are now growing apples here that were once only grown in California because of the increased growing time we now experience.

  15. WTC7

    I don't know Pysmythe.... I am sure that big industries and corporations have an agenda behind human caused climate change. But I personally have no agenda in that respect. And I am sure that many scientists who deny anthropogenic reasons for the change of the climate are not paid by those industries and corporations. Just like the scientists on the other side of the human caused global climate hype are not all driven by political pressure and need for funding. There is also another factor that we keep forgetting, and that is the fact that there are so many unknowns in the complex weather patterns and the results are left to interpretations. The climate is an intricate web, that is pretty clear, and if one reads reports on research of some threads in this web, not related to the the climate change, then one realizes how little we know about a lot of aspects of what makes our planet the beautiful place it is. Having said that, I want to once again emphasize that I believe that the excessive pollution of Earth should stop immediately.

  16. Pysmythe

    What I was saying is, that big industries and corporations have an interest in denying any measurable human effect on climate change/global warming (to me, it really doesn't make much difference what anyone calls it, ultimately, since, in the end, we're really talking about the same thing; that is, that the earth is measurably getting warmer, that the reason for that is increased CO2/greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that we put them there), so that their economic models/forecasts and the way they do business don't have to change or evolve. Now that they have been labelled "people" in the U.S., there is one thing we can be sure of, and that is that they are almost always short-sighted and psychopathic, however many good individuals this person is comprised of. On the other hand, we have religious nutjobs, to whose finely-tuned metaphysical sensibilities it is apparently an affront to think that we (the centerpiece creation of the universe, after all!) could possibly have been vouchsafed enough inherent power to effect such profound changes in God's great domain against his will. If only Michelangelo had had the foresight to depict God as passing Adam an acetylene torch, perhaps there would be less of a problem with this kind of thinking. But in any case, I wasn't suggesting that YOU have any kind of agenda, dear WTC, other than getting at what appears to be the truth of the matter. If you do think that human-caused climate change has been exaggerated, can you be a little more specific?

  17. WTC7

    That's Pysmythe I know, gentle and kind :). I know you were not saying I had an agenda and I am really sorry if it sounded like I was suggesting that. I am sorry to say that I cannot be more specific, I am just someone who requires more convincing. I really wish there was someone to better explain to me why all the previous global climate changes took place on the planet, without human influence. And, even more curiously, why was the global climate changing from ice ages to warm periods with levels of CO2 allegedly (significantly) lower that they are today. And why is it ok in Iraq for example that a temperature of 50 degrees Celcius to be ok but not somewhere else on Earth. The green-house effect - I still need someone to explain to me, as an absolute layperson, why is it so bad. I mean, plants thrive on CO2? Ocean levels? From what I understand, there are predictions that they may rise, according to IPCC which changes their predictions all the time, somewhat in the next 100 years. Than these bloody currents in the Pacific that are changing their direction every 30 or 50 years (can't remember exactly) that are also supposed to dramatically influence the temperature of the oceans and beyond (but it's still a bit of a mystery from what I understand). Sorry, I just need a bit more convincing, that's all.... But we can always agree to disagree, as the popular saying goes :). You will still remain my favorite :)

  18. WTC7

    And yes, sorry, I never replied to your comment on religious nut-jobs using the climate change for their own purposes. But as you would imagine, I wouldn't even go into their arguments - and if I had only their arguments against the anthropogenic climate change, I'd certainly rather go towards the mainstream science option and support the human-caused global warming :).

  19. Pysmythe

    I'm no expert, either, not by a long way, but the chief thing I remember is that more heat is starting to be trapped by the earth now than is radiated back into space. Kind of like what happened on Venus, I think. Without my having read up on it recently, take what I say with a grain of salt, but I suspect that one of the biggest reasons it would be so bad is because the change would be fairly rapid compared to some occasions in the past, so that ecosystems wouldn't have much time to adjust, ultimately affecting our food supply, turning fertile areas into deserts, etc., not to mention entire coastal populations having to be somehow fortified or relocated because of rising sea-levels. Just a few weeks ago, I read an article about a little South Pacific island that is in danger right now of being submerged, so that the governor of the place is seeking, or seriously thinking about seeking soon, assistance to move his people somewhere more suitable. Wouldn't you know it, I can't remember the name of it, at the moment, either...

  20. Achems_Razor

    Hi WTC7, can't say for sure if us little carbon units are the cause for global warming but this link may shed some insight.

  21. Pysmythe

    Looks like the name of the little place is Niue.

    edit- The word means, 'Behold, a coconut'. Isn't that charming?

  22. WTC7

    I remember that I also read about this some time ago. Not about the 'behold, coconut' though. I love the name :)))))

  23. WTC7

    I really don't want to get into an argument here, and especially with you an a few others that I truly like so much. But, with regard to your link, if I understand that whole thing about the greenhouse effect (and here, correct me because I may have understood it wrongly), isn't the water vapor producing the greenhouse effect also? And, again, if I remember and understood correctly things I've read, isn't the water vapor much more present in the atmosphere than CO2?

  24. WTC7

    Sorry, I realized subsequently that the point I am trying to make in my previous post is not clear. My question would be: why is it not the water vapor that is blamed for the greenhouse effect instead of CO2?

  25. NX2

    Thanks Achems, that is an interesting reference. Glad to see they also mention water vapor. Most people react in denial or just laugh at me when i tell them water vapor is also a green house gas.
    However, maybe it's just me, but i'm still confused, as it always is when i delve deeper into this subject. Just a few questions:
    They make the distinction between "feedback" and "forcing", though i would think CO2 is also a feedback, perhaps a slower one. Though i won't deny it might be out of balance just as the water vapor feedback would/could be if that amount would rise in equal ratio as CO2. But how do they come to the conclusion that CO2 is a forcing factor? Why always the focus on CO2 (in mainstream media mostly)? Other gasses have risen also, not? And what about (fine) dust particles? They give the examples of Mars and Venus, though i have difficulty with that, as the atmospheric conditions of those planets are quite extreme in comparison to the Earths atmosphere. From those examples alone one can't conclude CO2 to be a forcing factor on Earth.
    Anyhow, those are just questions, it's not my intention to deny the role of human activity, it is after all very probable (correlation, no causation yet though). In my current point of view it seems more of a combination of factors than CO2 alone. But besides that there are still a lot of questions, and with that comes uncertainty and a tendency to stray from doom scenarios.
    Just my stance.

  26. WTC7

    Achems, sorry, but could you just tell me why has one of my posts - a reply to Pysmythe - not appeared on the thread yet? I know there is a link in it (to a Washington Post article) but how come it takes so long to validate it? Thanks :)

  27. Achems_Razor

    Sorry about that, but just as I am replying to your post now 3 hours later, sometimes one or all mods are not available or too busy to check links in moderation, might take some time to approve.

  28. Pysmythe

    Kiribati was probably the island I was actually thinking of, if this was a more recent story. And I have to admit, I'm not completely convinced about the causes of climate change/global warming, either... I think it's only that I'm more convinced than you are, but to exactly what degree, I'm not sure. It's one of the perils of living in the information age... Lots of folks are capable of putting together a spectacular argument, and it can be real work to refute it. I do know that I don't trust the politician Al "Manbearpig" Gore any farther than I could throw him... What he had to say, at least directly to me, as it were, has never factored into the way I lean about the issue now; I've never even seen his movie, for example. What finally got me more firmly on the side of our being responsible for it is simply that the overwhelming majority of scientists who study it are now convinced of that. I do wonder that if it were possible to exclude any chance of a carbon tax being levied if a great deal of this controversy would simply vanish overnight?

  29. over the edge

    thanks for picking up the slack. work is nuts right now

  30. 1concept1

    The avg temp. where I live is 69degrees year round - I can handle a constant 100 + degrees if I can get it - I dislike air conditioning it feels unnatural? I have so much shade where I'm at even in summer towards morning I'll have to sometimes through on a blanket -

    It kills me how some people will actually live in an area that they don't like for money or a better job -

    No Amount Of Money could off set my misery into pleasure - or acceptance - I believe I would rather sleep under a palm tree then live in a comfortable home in Alaska - but that's me?

    It will be around 80 here today - bring it on!

  31. WTC7

    I am the one who is sorry for having bothered you with that, I should have known that :). Thank you for your reply :)

  32. WTC7

    I fully understand your point of view and your reasoning is rational and logical. I myself think that if the CO2 was the main culprit then the humans certainly contribute a lot, but I am not certain... I may be totally wrong but I follow my instincts. One is sure from my perspective, if politicians are advancing an issue to such an extent, one has to be very cautious :)

  33. WTC7

    Thank you Achems, I haven't read the whole thing yet but it looks really interesting and worth reading! Thanks again!

  34. Russ Tul

    Yes. There are two kinds of elected politician: the incumbent one and the one seeking office. The former has an urge to get immortalised by "leaving a legacy" which makes him/her liable to do crazy things (like starting wars), while the latter will promise anything just to be elected (with no regard for the long-term consequences of the policies promised). In either case: don't trust them.

  35. bluetortilla

    'I'm a republican and go to church on Sundays.' Is that a disclaimer?

  36. Rommel

    The dams humans have built prevent rivers flowing back to the oceans. This will cause the salinity of the oceans to rise in long term. And ice does melt the ice. So this could be another reason for the glaciers melting. Also if the salinity is high this could also effect the amount of rain and snow falls. I think they should look at this point also together with the CO2 effect.

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