Last week I came upon a freakish fossil from my science communication past. In the early nineties I co-presented a UK schools video called “The A-Z of Energy”. The video was funded by the British nuclear industry to promote debate about our sustainable energy future. The 30 minute documentary featured environmental arguments, lots of youthful posturing, and pristine nuclear power stations run by happy white-coated workers.
What’s really frightening about the video is how little matters have changed in 20 years regarding sustainable growth, nuclear energy policy, and the over-reliance on fossil fuels. The arguments in the video are exactly the same as you can hear or read today. But we seem to have made little if any progress.
And yet some things have changed – disturbingly so. At one point I comment about how the earth has an unsustainable population of “4.5 billion”. In just 20 years this has increased to today’s 6.7 billion. Back then, Britain was a net exporter of oil. Today, the country imports reduced stocks at greatly increased prices. You get the clear sense that things are going to be a lot different in another twenty years. And not in a nice way.
Mind you, the video itself is a hoot. There I am, acting my socks off for whatever pittance it was they were paying me. The job required a very ‘in-your-face’ delivery to camera. Clearly the poor kids watching are meant to identify with the stimulant-crazed northerner ranting at them. Frankly, I’d be terrified. I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to be informing them about the environment, or trying to mug them.
Anyway, here is your baby-faced author bringing a touch of Scarface to science education:-