Premiers of Second, Third PBS ‘ETOM’ Broadcasts Set for Earth Day, April 22

The ‘Earth: The Operators’ Manual’ series hosted by Penn State climatologist Richard Alley is set to resume on Earth Day, April 22, with premieres of two energy segments.


“Check local listings.”

And don’t you forget it! It’s a standard precaution in announcing upcoming PBS documentaries.

What is less standard, in promoting upcoming pieces on environmental or climate change issues, is the line that “If you’re expecting a group of lefty tree-huggers, you’re in for a shock.”

Nor is it standard operating practice to say the pieces being promoted are “not a documentary series to be passively watched,” but rather “a movement that embodies the consensus that Earth’s climate is changing because of our actions, that fossil fuels lead us down a dead-end road, and that the time to move toward a sustainable energy future is now.”

The political climate being what it is, that “[no] tree-huggers” line is used twice on the first page of a six-page release promoting the debuts of the remaining two broadcast specials associated with Penn State climatologist Richard Alley’s “Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” a book with a companion PBS documentary first aired in 2011.

Written and directed by Geoff Haines-Stiles and produced by Erna Akuginow, the NSF-funded “ETOM” documentary series “replaces ‘gloom and doom’ with the positive, pragmatic, and inspiring message that a revolution in the way we think about energy is already under way,” the release says. It urges public involvement on the part of those “who’d rather get busy building a better future than argue with the facts.”

Including on-scene shooting and interviews in five different American communities ranging from Kansas to Maryland, Alaska, Texas, and Oregon, the “Energy Quest USA” program, scheduled to premier on Sunday, April 22, claims to show how “every U.S. community can … take charge of their energy future and adapt to the challenges climate change may bring.” It relies in part on Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski to get across the message that “We need to get beyond the political labels when it comes to energy opportunities.” (No breakthrough clues provided on how best to do that.)

The third installment in the series, also scheduled to premiere on April 22, is “Powering the Planet,” which explores ways to build a sustainable energy future.

Alley again is the host of the ETOM documentaries, although his on-screen time appears to be considerably less than it was in the first installment. The advance materials, as did the original broadcast in 2011, emphasize Alley’s being a “registered Republican,” a regular soccer player and church-goer, and a former oil company employee (who, by the way, is also a contributor to IPCC, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a widely recognized innovative and expert climate science communicator).

The self-described “myth-busting” three ETOM installments are scheduled to run back-to-back on many PBS stations on the afternoon of Sunday, April 22, 2012, the 42nd annual recognition of “Earth Day.”

But keep in mind … CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS in your own area.

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