Quantcast

This Must-See Documentary Shows the Future of Solar Power Is Here Today

By Emily J. Gertz

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya set out to show that climate change isn't all gloom and doom. The result, Catching the Sun, ably makes that case, but may still leave you inspired and infuriated in equal parts.

This fast-paced and compelling documentary, which premieres today in New York City and in cities nationwide during April, follows a diverse group of job-seekers, activists, politicians and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world's growing solar power economy.

This fast-paced and compelling new documentary follows a diverse group of job-seekers, activists, politicians and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world's growing solar power economy. Photo credit: Catching the Sun

Kantayya jumps between nations that have unequivocally adopted policies to speed up adoption of renewables and more fitful efforts here in the U.S. to expand solar energy—from a program in Richmond training unemployed men and women to become solar panel installers, to a “Green Tea Party" member and energy independence advocate working both sides of the halls of power in Georgia.

The sharpest contrast comes in the paralled stories of two young visionaries: American activist Van Jones and Chinese entrepreneur Zhongwei “Wally" Jiang.

Jones, the founder of the group behind the Richmond solar jobs training program, finds himself recruited by the Obama administration in 2009 to take similar efforts nationwide. We follow him across the country and into the White House, where his work—and a potentially revolutionary climate and clean energy bill in Congress—attract powerful right-wing attacks that leave Jones bewildered and politically vulnerable.

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya. Photo credit: Catching the Sun

Jiang, meanwhile, describes how he has risen from rural poverty to running a solar business employing thousands. He travels the world making enormous solar power deals and has set his sights on a "dream" project: a vast solar park in rural Texas. Jiang's ambitions never seem unrealistic, because they are fueled by something just as powerful as his personal vision and drive: the regulatory certainties in nations like China and Germany, which have unequivocally set ambitious goals for adopting renewable energy.

The mixed government signals on clean energy in the U.S. don't seem to overcome Jiang's personality or, perhaps more importantly, his professional resources: By the film's end he is closing in on his Texas solar dream.

But they leave some of the newly-trained solar power technicians in Richmond grappling with an uncertain job market and still fighting the centrifugal force of chronic poverty.

The impacts of continuing to burn fossil fuels—from shrinking ice at both ends of the Earth, to month-on-month record-breaking temperature highs worldwide—are accelerating. The need to expand renewable energy couldn't be clearer. Catching the Sun shows that the technologies to make that happen are proven, but the political will remains in doubt.

Watch the trailer here:

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

David Suzuki: Tapping Earth's Abundant Geothermal Energy

Is Rooftop Solar Cheaper Than Buying Electricity From the Grid?

Symbolic Victory for Clean Energy as North America's Largest Coal-Fired Power Plant Will Soon Be Home to a Solar Farm

Climate Model Predicts Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Double Sea Level Rise

Sponsored

A natural gas pipeline owned by Enbridge exploded in Noble County, Ohio at approximately 10:40 a.m. on Monday.

At least two people were reportedly injured and two homes are believed to have been damaged in the incident.

Read More Show Less
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Read More Show Less
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Read More Show Less
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Read More Show Less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Read More Show Less