“Switch” film addresses changing energy spectrum

Photo courtesy of Switch Energy Project.
Photo courtesy of Switch Energy Project.

The debate over America’s energy security still rages. Simply look to the controversy surrounding the Keystone oil pipeline to see that the future of energy is a key concern for most Americans. While speculation circles, a new documentary hopes to answer crucial questions.

“Switch” is the product of energy visionary Dr. Scott Tinker. After working in the oil and natural gas industry for 17 years, Dr. Tinker joined the staff at the University of Texas at Austin as Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology. His position, which he still holds today, reflects his stance on energy: Security will come only from a balance of energy, economy and environmental consciousness.

Through exploring serious questions, Dr. Tinker attempts to explain his findings to the youth of the nation, giving over 500 lectures and keynote addresses across college campuses in the last 10 years. He teamed up with noted documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch to make “Switch,” and the pair hopes to spread Dr. Tinker’s vision even farther.

The film focuses on the future of energy: where it will come from, what form it will come in, and how it can be produced and maintained in a sustainable fashion. The aim of the film is not to promote only one method of energy production, but to address the entire spectrum, looking at the pros and cons of each source.

 “We wanted to present those as fairly as possible so viewers could understand what roles the different resources play and how they fit together,” Dr. Tinker has stated. “A responsible future requires a balance of energies – there are no silver bullets.”

To research the film in a balanced manner, the pair took over two years and traveled to 26 energy-producing sites in 11 countries. The documentary includes 53 expert interviews, each of which subtly shapes the perspective of the film into one of efficient and varied energy production.

The documentary has spawned a nationwide educational program, partnering with the Geological Society of America (GSA) in an effort to spread more than awareness: the GSA Switch Energy Awareness and Efficiency Program. College students are encouraged to become ambassadors for the program and organize energy-efficiency drives on campus or host follow-up energy discussions after screening the documentary. In Bozeman, MSU students and faculty have joined in the program by organizing a screening of “Switch” at the Museum of the Rockies next week.

Aside from its topic and message, the documentary includes stunning visuals taken from all around the world. Watching humans interact with nature to extract the materials needed to produce energy provides a broader perspective, without necessarily forcing one opinion or another upon the audience.

Anyone interested in the details of the film and the places it features can find more information online at switchenergyproject.com. The documentary will be screened this Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at the Museum of the Rockies.