Richard Alley PBS special on climate change and sustainable energy debuts April 10


Climate change and sustainable energy: “I believe science offers us an operators’ manual with answers to both of these huge challenges,” says Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Penn State. Prof. Alley is hosting a new PBS special called “Earth: The Operators’ Manual,” a 3-part series that debuts nationally on Sunday, April 10, and may also be viewed online. Not to be missed – Richard Alley is a leading scientist and a great communicator.

Broadcast listing and schedule – check local listings. Not every PBS affiliate is listed as airing this program, including the one in Washington, DC! Can this possibly be true? Wake up, WETA.

View the program online starting April 10

The second and third parts of the series are expected to air later in 2011 and early in 2012.

From an April 8 Penn State University press release:

Alley — a geologist, contributor to the United Nations panel on climate change and former oil company employee whom Andy Revkin of the New York Times has called “a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan” — leads the audience through an engaging, one-hour special about climate change and sustainable energy, set to premiere during Earth Month 2011. Alley’s book of the same name, a companion to the program, will be published by W.W. Norton & Co on April 18.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Alley was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 2009.

“Earth: The Operators’ Manual” (“ETOM”) opens with a thorough grounding in Earth’s climate history and an overview of the current dilemmas, but its main thrust is an upbeat assessment of the many viable sustainable energy options. For previews of the special and additional content, visit at online.

“Of course we share the best climate science, but we know today’s audiences want to see solutions, not just restatements of the problems,” said writer/director Geoff Haines-Stiles, who also has produced Carl Sagan’s Emmy Award-winning Cosmos series, “Creation of the Universe,” and other PBS specials.

To illustrate the evidence and the way forward, “ETOM” takes viewers on a high-definition trip around the globe. …

“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,” Alley said.

The program also features Rear Admiral David Titley, a Penn State alumnus, Oceanographer of the Navy and a contributor to the U.S. Department of Defense “Quadrennial Defense Review,” which cited climate change as a “threat multiplier,” for the first time in 2010.

Earth: The Operators’ Manual book and DVD 

For more on the program, see the post by Bud Ward on the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

From Penn State’s announcement of Alley’s election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008: 

Alley has made prodigious contributions to our understanding of the stability of the ice sheets and glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland, and of erosion and sedimentation by this moving ice. Through the interpretation of paleoclimatic records from ice cores, Alley has examined their response to past and future climate change. He has provided evidence that large, abrupt global climate changes have occurred repeatedly in the Earth’s history and has contributed to our understanding of the driving mechanisms of these changes.

Most recently, he is one of several Penn State earth scientists who were contributors to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

Alley has been awarded a Packard Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union as well as Fellowship in the AGU, the first Agassiz Medal of the European Geosciences Union’s Cryospheric Section and the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society. At Penn State, he received the Wilson Teaching Award and the Mitchell Innovative Teaching Award of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the Faculty Scholar Medal in Science and the Eisenhower Teaching Award. …

With more than 170 refereed papers, Alley also is the author of a popular book titled “The Two-Mile Time Machine,” which was selected as the science book of the year by Phi Beta Kappa in 2001. He received his … doctoral degree in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Video of Prof. Alley’s lecture, “The biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History,”  posted by the American Geophysical Union in a format that shows both Alley speaking and his slides presentation.

On this, also see Joe Romm, Climate Progress, December 21, 2009: In must-see AGU video, Richard Alley explains “The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History”

Joe says: “I’d strongly recommended it to anybody who wants to understand why scientists are so certain that CO2 is such a big driver of our climate.  It is for an audience of geophysicist types, but is probably the most understandable science lecture on the subject you are likely to watch.”

More videos:

Richard Alley Dances to Explain Ice Ages, CO2 and Global Warming

Global Warming interview with Dr. Richard Alley

Alley was a Lead Author of Chapter 4: “Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground,” in Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007.

Alley chaired the committee of the National Academy of Sciences / National research Council that produced the report Abrupt Climate Change; Inevitable Surprises, published in 2002.  

Alley’s award-winning book, The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future (Princeton University Press, 2002) (and Amazon)

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4 Responses to Richard Alley PBS special on climate change and sustainable energy debuts April 10

  1. bobarl says:

    I can’t wait to see “Earth: The Operators Manual,” I respect Richard Alley and have seen him many times on TV programs dealing with Climate Change and I enjoy his mannerisms while he is discussing what he has learned performing his teams’ extensive research, especially with ice cores. Unfortunately, I don’t see as many programs dealing with the subject lately and I wonder if some energy companies may be threatening to withhold their funding to broadcastng companies that produce science programs about the threat of climate change. Of course this is my own concern and not anything I can point to for “proof.”
    Getting back to Richard Alley, I have read his “The Three Mille Time Machine” and found it a great explanation of the volumes of research that can be learned from the research on ice cores drilled down to near the bottom of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. We know so much about what the climate was across the planet dating back hundreds of thousands of years and what natural changes occured. Alley describes what is happening now that is different because of what humans are doing with fossil fuel use.
    I will not miss this series and hope to purchase it later when it becomes available.

  2. Nikki Smith says:

    This was an amazing show…….EVERYONE needs to see this.


  3. jean clausen says:

    Excellent..thank you.

  4. Chris Bargas says:

    Just caught the series PBS Earth operators manual…Energy. Seems the powers to be here are slow in Oklahoma to bring about awareness in conservation. I wrote the locals mayors and my district representatives two years ago about the very concept in pitting one district against another maily about water monitoring and got no response back. Hopefully the new elections taking place someone will watch the TV series . Great work BTW and thanks for all your doing to help everyone understand their connection to our finite resources or else we will breed our selves right out of these again.

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