Gorilla in the Greenhouse Meets the Coal Machine

The Natural Resources Defense Council embarrassed the coal industry last week by acquiring and distributing video of Don Blankenship, CEO of number-four U.S. coal producer Massey Energy, proudly professing his continued denial that climate change is real. Now multimedia producer Jay Golden and environmental media firm SustainLane have released video that's considerably more entertaining and, thus, potentially far more damaging: a high-energy, Scooby Doo-esque production called "Turn It Up Day" from their savvy Gorilla in the Greenhouse cartoon series:

I heartily endorse the review by online videobiz blog NewTeeVee, which calls Gorilla in the Greenhouse "genuinely entertaining and informative":

Green gorilla KJ is an enigmatic environmental savant, telling the future through riddles that the kids who share his greenhouse must solve in order to ward off threats to the planet. (And in their spare time, they have a rock band. Of course.)

In the 7-minute episode released last week, the Green Gorillas gang exposes the blend of complacency and deception that allows our civilization to literally chew through mountains in search of the coal that fuels half of U.S. electricity production. With sage advice from KJ and a little follow-the-wire detective work, the kids trace the cause-and-effect connections between their own profligate energy use, the 'turn it up' hype embedded in popular media, and mountaintop removal mining.

As NewTeeVee put's it, the Green Gorillas' 2nd episode "fires on all cylinders":

It teaches complex issues in a digestible way; it shows the characters taking practical action; and it even goes a little deeper, teaching kids to not buy into the hype about something just because it calls itself green, but to really learn about what's going on behind the scenes.

My favorite character is the talking worm that plays the coal baron, Wormulus, who delivers several crucial Seussian rhymatribes. His malicious gloating opens the show: "My Wormulator chops the rocks, making loads of watts per hour. So They get their precious energy, but it's Me who gets the power!" Later his willful deception is exposed in this dialogue with Dr. Morlon Hufflebot, whose brain Wormulus inhabits: "Our robot tears at the Earth as fast as it can," says Hufflebot. "It's a cause and effect they don't understand," says Wormulus.

Kentucky author, poet and social critic Wendell Berry noted how hard it is for people to connect power use and coal mining when he spoke at the Society of Environmental Journalists' conference in Roanoke, VA this fall. He also told a poignant Christmas tale of direct action that helped me make the connection. Recalling a holiday season advertisement years ago by the coal industry with the message, "We dig coal to light your tree," Berry said he never again allowed an electrified Christmas tree in his home. The tale struck a nerve: I've been avoiding escalators ever since.

ENDNOTE: The 800-pound savant in Gorilla in the Greenhouse, KJ, is in no way related to the Green Gorilla power spray system, highlighted last week as a "special gift for the gardener in your life" by Canada's Financial Post. That Green Gorilla puts an end to hand pumping garden sprays thanks to its rechargable lithium ion-powered pressurizer. "No more sore arms and sore backs," assures the Post. It's a steal at C$71.95! (Solar charging kit not included.) Or buy direct and get the dual-tank bundle for just US$94.99! (With separate tanks for your herbicides and insecticides you'll "never cross contaminate again"!)

Season's Greenings!

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