It begins with a solemn funeral…for a car. By the end of Chris Paine's lively and informative documentary, the idea doesn't seem quite so strange. As narrator Martin Sheen notes, "They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline." Paine proceeds to show how this unique vehicle came into being and why General Motors ended up reclaiming its once-prized creation less than a decade later. He begins 100 years ago with the original electric car. By the 1920s, the internal-combustion engine had rendered it obsolete. By the 1980s, however, car companies started exploring alternative energy sources, like solar power. This, in turn, led to the late, great battery-powered EV1. Throughout, Paine deftly translates hard science and complex politics, such as California's Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandate, into lay person's terms (director Alex Gibney, Oscar-nominated for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, served as consulting producer). And everyone gets the chance to have their say: engineers, politicians, protesters, and petroleum spokespeople--even celebrity drivers, like Peter Horton, Alexandra Paul, and a wild man beard-sporting Mel Gibson. But the most persuasive participant is former Saturn employee Chelsea Sexton. Promoting the benefits of the EV1 was more than a job to her, and she continues to lobby for more environmentally friendly options. Sexton provides the small ray of hope Paine's film so desperately needs. Who Killed the Electric Car? is, otherwise, a tremendously sobering experience. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
As of its release in early 2007, Planet Earth is quite simply the greatest nature/wildlife series ever produced. Following the similarly monumental achievement of The Blue Planet: Seas of Life, this astonishing 11-part BBC series is brilliantly narrated by Sir David Attenborough and sensibly organized so that each 50-minute episode covers a specific geographical region and/or wildlife habitat (mountains, caves, deserts, shallow seas, seasonal forests, etc.) until the entire planet has been magnificently represented by the most astonishing sights and sounds you'll ever experience from the comforts of home. The premiere episode, "From Pole to Pole," serves as a primer for things to come, placing the entire series in proper context and giving a general overview of what to expect from each individual episode. Without being overtly political, the series maintains a consistent and subtle emphasis on the urgent need for ongoing conservation, best illustrated by the plight of polar bears whose very behavior is changing (to accommodate life-threatening changes in their fast-melting habitat) in the wake of global warming--a phenomenon that this series appropriately presents as scientific fact. With this harsh reality as subtext, the series proceeds to accentuate the positive, delivering a seemingly endless variety of natural wonders, from the spectacular mating displays of New Guinea's various birds of paradise to a rare encounter with Siberia's nearly-extinct Amur Leopards, of which only 30 remain in the wild.
The National Parks tells the human history of five of the nations most important and most heavily visited National Parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Great Smoky Mountains) and the unforgettable Americans who made them possible. Set against some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, each park s story is filled with incidents and characters as gripping and fascinating as American history has to offer. Woven into the series will also be a broader, evolving story of the very idea of National Parks, as uniquely an American concept as jazz, baseball, and the Declaration of Independence as well as the expanding, constantly changing National Parks system and the growing role they all have come to play in our nation's sense of itself, its past, and its future. Special Features include: Spanish Audio, Spanish and English Subtitles, and Descriptive Video.
Award-winning film Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-Energize America, is a timely, solutions-oriented look at one of America s most pressing environmental challenges: energy. Filmmaker Jeff Barrie offers hope as he turns the camera on himself and asks, How can I make a difference? In his journey Barrie explores the source of our electricity and the problems caused by energy production including mountain top removal, childhood asthma and global warming. Along the way he encounters individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities who are leading the way, using energy conservation, efficiency and renewable, green power all while saving money and the environment. This often amusing and always inspiring story shows you can easily make a difference and here's how!
She was a biologist for the federal government when she first noted the effects of the unregulated use of pesticides and herbicides, especially DDT. Magazines, afraid of losing advertising, refused to publish her articles. When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1963, she was viciously attacked, called ""an ignorant and hysterical woman."" But her warning sparked a revolution in environmental policy and a new ecological consciousness.