Green Living: Documentary Offers Energy Solutions


"Do I think man is causing global warming? No. But that doesn't make any difference. I want clean water, I want clean air and that's so simple-geothermal," Karl says in the film.

In the small town of Roscoe, Texas (population under 1,500), Byck found Cliff Etheredge, creator of one of the world's largest wind farms.

"The more I began to study the wind industry, the more I learned we had a wonderful wind resource in Roscoe," Etheredge told ABC News, who was also in Austin for the film's opening.

Etheredge said he was tired of ranches in the South leasing their land to wind companies while towns like Roscoe got none of the business. Forming a community "wind group," he organized scores of 500 acre farms to create Peak Wind, one of the world's largest in wind turbines.

"I think about the community and the benefits. The first lasting benefit was an increase in enrollment in Roscoe schools," Etheredge said. "All of a sudden within two years we had more jobs, an increase of 40 students -- it's strictly due to the presence of the wind farm."

Before the wind farm, Roscoe was losing young people and businesses. "I knew we were going under when the Dairy Queen shut down," he said. Now, the West Texas farmer said, small businesses continue to pop up while more and more kids come back home to work and carry on family ranching.

"I'm blessed with continuing the legacy there, and now my son Scott, he's taking over the family farm," Etheredge said.

Byck says it's characters such and Karl and Ehteredge that make "Carbon Nation" personal to audience members.

"Cliff speaks to everybody. When people watch the movie, they come out and say 'Oh that farmer, he was awesome,'" Byck said.

Mixed Reviews

"Carbon Nation" premiered in New York at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in February. It recently opened in California and Texas.

The Los Angeles Times says Byck "covers an impressively wide range of ground within his film's compact running time as he introduces us to a stirring cross-section of pioneers, researchers and innovators committed to helping the world reduce its carbon footprint."

"America is like a sore that we just keep letting swell up with pollution," University of Texas biochemistry major Michael Hearn said after watching the film. "I think 'Carbon Nation' is a great eye opener to that sore- regardless of your political affiliation."

But not all critics bought Byck's lack of politics. According to The New York Times, the film "seems blissfully unaware that political obstructionists are paralyzing the legislative process; that deep-pocketed influence peddlers have a vested interest in maintaining the fossil fuel culture."

"I don't see these things as political issues. I never have. We've made a non-partisan move and it's about solutions to climate change," Byck said. "I don't think you need a lot of money to simplify a story and that's what we're hoping we're doing with this clean energy, good stewards of the earth, energy efficiency, leadership story that we're telling. "

Some may even say it's patriotic.

"Green, baby, is the new red, white and blue," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said. "Carbon Nation" is playing in Austin now, and will open in Seattle and Portland, Ore., in April. contributor Ashley Jennings is a member of the ABC News on Campus bureau in Austin, Tex.

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