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Archive for Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Turning up the heat on climate policies

October 21, 2008

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"Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents "Heat," a two-hour look at global warming and what can be done to slow or reverse climate change. After quickly establishing the reality and severity of the problem, "Heat" offers a detailed look at ways of cutting carbon dioxide emissions and the many roadblocks - scientific, technological, economic and political - that may prevent them from happening.

We hear from experts and critics about the pros and cons of "clean coal," biofuels, wind and solar power, the reduction of automobile emissions and nuclear power. In nearly every case, political pressure is the most crucial factor.

One expert describes corn-based ethanol as a highly subsidized energy boondoggle that just doesn't add up. But another speaker outlines the only formula that really matters: 21 corn-producing states with 42 senators equals enormous clout.

Nobody watches "Frontline" for the comedy, but I found it amusing to see publicists squirm under vigilant grilling. An Exxon flack fails to explains why the oil giant used to subsidize "official" global warming skeptics who peddled quack science (to propagandists like Rush Limbaugh). Environmental Protection Agency officials try to weasel their way around Bush administration efforts to kill emission reductions.

The gold star for noncommunication goes to an uncomfortable GM spokeswoman who tries to hype the forthcoming Volt electric car while downplaying GM's recent history (documented in the 2006 film "Who Killed the Electric Car?") of devising, marketing and then destroying a popular model back in the 1990s. Students of evasion, double talk and nondenial denials should not miss this.

¢ The second-season debut of "Frank TV" (10 p.m., TBS), starring Frank Caliendo, reflects the impending loss of a George W. Bush impression from Caliendo's repertoire. It relies instead on sketches that seem decades old. In the opening bit, Caliendo impersonates Bill Clinton and Al Gore in a spoof of an Oliver Stone film that purports to tell the "real" story of the Lewinsky scandal. Monica jokes? What century is this?

¢ The 2008 Scream Awards (8 p.m., Spike) celebrate the year's best in horror, sci fi and fantasy.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at the search for a parallel universe.

¢ A mystery illness hits close to the hospital staff on "House" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ A tycoon's safe proves to be anything but on "The Mentalist" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Mike works as a sheep castrator on "Dirty Jobs" (8 p.m., Discovery).

¢ Recuperating patients throw off fatal radioactivity on "Fringe" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ Dale's high school clique descends on "Greek" (8 p.m., Family).

¢ Surprising news shatters NeNe's confidence on "Real Housewives of Atlanta" (8 p.m., Bravo).

¢ Katie Holmes guest stars on "Eli Stone" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ A priest may be sheltering drug dealers on "The Shield" (9 p.m., FX).

¢ An expert and his girlfriend live among their subjects in the new series "Living with the Wolfman" (9 p.m., Animal Planet).

¢ Mush is the word on "Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod" (9 p.m., Discovery).

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