August 7, 2008 at 10:02PM
by Tommi Lewis Tilden
Master skeptics and raconteurs Penn Gillette and Teller recently took the environment to task on Showtime's "Penn and Teller's Bullshit" claiming, among many things, that Al Gore is an energy hog.
The "Being Green" episode brings up the now-old allegation that Gore's 20-room Tennessee mansion uses more electricity each month than the average American uses every 17 months. The sleight of hand sleuths also report that the carbon offset credits Gore purchases come from Generation Investment Management, a company our ex-VP owns.
A wolf features prominently in upcoming PBS coverage.
But despite the Gore-bashing, P&T stopped short of calling global warming bullshit because...they really don't know: "We know that feng shui is bullshit; the Bible is full of bullshit. But global warming? There's evidence the planet is getting warmer, but we can't be sure we're causing it. And even if we did cause it, we don't know that we can fix it. And even if we can fix it, we don't know how."
As expected, the "Being Green" message boards were jammed with protests: "Your Al Gore thing is so blown out of proportion. His electricity is sourced from green energy sources, his mansion doubles as an office. This whole hate outcry generated by the nutty right has long been debunked and here you are bringing it up again."
And: "It's getting pretty ridiculous to deny man-made global warming at this point. Seriously guys, do your homework, interview some real scientists (the ones you claim to love and respect SOOOO much) and you'll find out that your position on this issue is BULLSHIT."
At least the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is keeping it real with "Man-Made: Power Towers"-a documentary (premiered July 31, check for repeats) about building the Bahrain World Trade Center along the Persian Gulf Shores. This 50-story glass-tower is the world's first skyscraper to incorporate wind energy to supply clean power to this ginormous building.
Impressive green building is happening on our shores, too. NGC's L.A. Hard Hats
devotes six episodes to erecting Evo, a 23-story eco-friendly structure in downtown earthquake-prone city of angels showing the drama and challenges of dealing with irate subcontractors, bad weather and "punk" apprentices.
In the spirit of recycling, don't miss NGC's "Saving the Michael Vick
Dogs" -- the September 5 season opener of NGC's "Dogtown" series. Dozens of traumatized, chained-up pit bulls were pulled from the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's fighting facility, with 22 of the toughest cases sent to Dogtown, a shelter for lost canine souls. With astounding belief, patience and TLC, the sanctuary's animal experts managed to turn these damaged dogs into adoptable ones.
For PBS, animals also rule, especially with "Nature," their highest-rated doc series. Last year "Silence of the Bees," about the millions of honeybees vanishing from their hives, won a Peabody award. The series perfectly balances animal behavior with timely environmental issues and this year's slate is equally promising -- it includes disappearing frogs, a wolf that changed America (timely in the face of the recent Alaska massacre
), wild mustangs, modern-day dragons, and on November 16 -- "American Eagle."
The birds, found only in North America, can live up to 25 years, their nests can weigh up to a ton, and they mate for life. "The bald eagle faces road kill, electrocution, collision with power lines, and the biggest threat of all right now is lead poisoning," says "American Eagle" filmmaker Neil Rettig
. "And that's just the way life is in the modern world with so many creatures facing these obstacles."
Speaking of obstacles, the four American cyclists who arrived at Beijing's Olympics wearing masks might be relieved to know that there is a difference between fog and smog. Although the city failed to meet World Health Organization pollution standards the eve before opening ceremonies, Jacques Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee, insisted that Beijing's polluted air is "absolutely no danger" to the health of athletes taking part in events that last less than one hour. (Guess Ethiopian world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselaisse is glad he opted out of this year's games.)
And Rogge wants reporters to make the distinction between fog and smog: "The fog, you see, is based on the basis of humidity and heat," he said. "It does not mean that this fog is the same as pollution."
Rogge was also optimistic about China's Olympic green efforts, such as using renewable energy sources in the village and venues, planting 500,000 trees around the site, and using alternative vehicles to transport athletes. "These are not short-term, one-shot measures. This is going to continue
and this is going to have a lasting influence on the climate of
Beijing," the chief said. Then coughed.
GREEN THUMBS UP
Between now and September 22, upload your 30-or 60-second video about climate change for a chance to pocket some cash. Celebrity judges include actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, documentary producer Rory Kennedy and Leila and Nadia Conners, (from Leonardo DiCaprio's "Eleventh Hour"). According to looktothestars.org, the top 10 videos will be featured in October at a Washington D.C.-based event for Congress and both presidential campaigns.