“If we approach Earth as if we have an Operators’ Manual, we can avoid climate catastrophes, improve energy security,
and make millions of good jobs.” - Richard Alley
An operators’ manual helps keep your car or computer running at peak performance. Earth science can do the same for the planet. In EARTH: THE OPERATORS’ MANUAL, airing as part of PBS' Earth Day programming, join geologist Richard Alley as he travels the world, from New Zealand to China, Brazil, Spain and Morocco with stops in New Orleans, Texas and military bases in California. This accurate, understandable and upbeat report on the interconnected stories of humans and fossil fuels, Earth’s climate history and our future energy options will leave you amazed at the beauty and bounty of the planet, inspired by human ingenuity, and optimistic about the future.
Chapter 1: Humans and Energy
“Humans need energy… we always have and always will…” Where we get energy today, and why a growing population needs more and more energy, which has to be “clean” to avoid the pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels. On location on a bayou near New Orleans, Richard describes why fossil fuels are so powerful but also unsustainable.
Chapter 2: CO2 and the Atmosphere
By objective measures, today’s levels of carbon dioxide are unlike anything seen in the past 400,000 years. Using stylized graphics, Richard explains how physics and chemistry prove that today’s levels of CO2 are coming from humans burning fossil fuels, and not from natural sources such as volcanoes. Rear Admiral David Titley, Oceanographer of the Navy, presents some of the evidence that led the Pentagon’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review to call climate change a “threat multiplier.”
Chapter 3: Towards a Renewable Future
The Pentagon is America’s single largest user of energy but is aggressively moving to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to save lives (by keeping resupply convoys off the roads where they can be attacked with IEDs), increase efficiency and save money. At Fort Irwin and Camp Pendleton, we see tests of sustainable energy options including wind and solar, and on board the USS Makin Island, learn that its hybrid-electric drive saved $2 million on its very first voyage.