Bait and Switch

Ray Pierrehumbert has a review of the documentary Switch up on RC. The film is closely associated with the University of Texas, as am I, at least for a few more weeks. A lot of energy news comes out of this place, not all of it flattering, and I’m occasionally a bit on edge about what I should or shouldn’t say about it, as an employee not only of UT but of the School of Geosciences, where the film’s narrator is one of the powers that be.

Let me go so far, while I’m still on the payroll, as to say that what Ray says about the film is worthy of your consideration:

SWITCH plays Pollyanna on energy technologies to such an extent that I found it off-putting even when the film was advocating things I basically agree with.


You begin to suspect something is really wrong when the first guy on screen to say something about climate is Richard Muller, of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project fame, who managed to convert himself from a climate change denialist to a lukewarmer by arduously and noisily rediscovering what every working climate scientist already knew to be true. What Muller has to say about climate is that burning fossil fuels will cause the Earth to warm by about 2 degrees (“if the calculations are right”), but it’s going to be too expensive to stop it so we’ll just learn to live with it. There are so many things wrong with Muller’s statement that I hardly know where to begin.


The truly fatal flaw of SWITCH, however, is that it never comes right out and explains why it is so critical for the world’s energy systems to switch off of fossil fuels, and why time is of the essence in making the switch.


  1. Good title and excellent extracts. Thanks.

    Funny I thought I had read the original but missed this bit and quite a bit more: "Environmental Film Series of the Lutheran School of Theology." Scathing!

    Time to go back and read it right through. It's a bad habit, skipping around and focusing on comments.

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