Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey: The World Set Free
June 2, 2014 6:30 AM - Season 1, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Tyson shows the result of a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus. The earth has been getting warmer since the industrial revolution — but it's not too late.
posted by DevilsAdvocate (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not surprisingly, since it had a strong theme to keep it from wandering too much, this was one of the better episodes.
posted by localroger at 6:43 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something I tweeted shortly after watching:

"Predicted that after this broadcast, the #cosmos twitter feed would have a big bunch of global-warming deniers posts. Saw I was right. So it goes."

It was especially heartbreaking because there were so many other people tweeting "finally this is the proof that will shut the deniers up," but they just weren't realizing how entrenched the deniers are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2014

At just about the moment I was wondering what the deal with the dog on the beach was, he hit the payoff with "watch the man, not the dog". Well done, though it's not going to get through to the "scientists r liars who hate god and america and oh yeah #BENGHAZI" crowd, because nothing will.

Loved the "MacFarlane's Refined Lard" sign at the Paris Expo. Turns out there really was such a thing presented there (found it in google books), so big ups to the research team and their sense of humor.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

This episode was great but also really scared my kiddo. "I hope I'm dead before that all happens!" :( It did lead us to have a necessary discussion about what climate change is and that there are things we can do (helped by the upbeat turn the show took at the end) but...oof.
posted by emjaybee at 10:52 AM on June 2, 2014

He didn't mention deforestation, which is a very significant omission.

Related: skyscrapers of wood. Why not use our cities to sequester carbon?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:02 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it's any comfort, emjaybee, it's very possible that this is the moment that sets your child's path. I had an ex who got into renewable energy activism precisely because he remembers being a little kid during the 1970's gas crisis, and it made such a big impact on him. Me, I trace my feminism entirely to receiving a copy of Free To Be You And Me when I was six, listening to it over and over and gradually realizing that yeah, it was right, girls can do anything.

It's possible that you just saw the moment that made your kid decide to go into STEM or energy policy as well in 20 years.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:03 AM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ha, EC I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for that. He does build/pretend-invent things a lot, though usually they are things that will allow him to become an evil overlord. We'll see.

Free to Be You and Me was so insanely subversive for the time, it still blows me away.
posted by emjaybee at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2014

I thought this was a great episode. The series faces a tough balance between appealing to people who are already know quite a bit about science and people for whom many of the concepts may be new or at best dimly remembered. Generally they hit it - I consider myself pretty science-literate and have an undergrad degree (from long ago) in biology, but I find myself learning something new each time. For this one they correctly judged that winning people over by laying out the climate change case in a clear, relatable way was the most important goal.

I also have been very happy with the prior episodes and don't really see the jumping around as a weakness. I think it's deliberate and is meant to reinforce the idea that everything in the natural universe, big and small, is related in surprising and myriad ways. I also love, love, love the extended animated scientist biographies. These people really are heroes in a much more meaningful way than the other types of heroes we tend to celebrate.

Emjaybee, I have had the same experience with the kids a couple of times during the series. They haven't seen this one yet, but my 9-year-old got pretty freaked out about black holes and also the stuff about the lifespan of stars. She immediately intuited that "hey, the earth isn't going to be around forever" and had a major bout of existential angst.

Also I'm sad people aren't posting in the Cosmos threads more! I love GoT too, but in my dream world this thread would also have hundreds of comments ...
posted by freecellwizard at 11:49 AM on June 2, 2014

FCW the reason the jumping around is a problem is that it has jumped around from things that are solidly noncontroversial, such as electromagnetism, to things which were once considered wackadoo and are now non-controversial such as plate tectonics or the K-T impactor, to thinks which are currently considered quite speculative such as extremophile asteroid life arks and dust-cloud seeding of other star systems without noting that there is a difference. Sagan did a much better job of getting speculative while noting the difference between speculative fancy and well established canon.
posted by localroger at 5:20 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I missed it last night but caught it tonight. Very well done. Tyson is a national treasure.
posted by homunculus at 11:58 PM on June 2, 2014

When Tyson talked about how there's enough solar energy for all our power needs, if we have the will for it, I sort of wish he could have addressed the obvious question "so why aren't we doing that?" But I realize to answer that would have to involve bringing in issues of politics and entrenched economic interests, which is clearly not something this show wants to mess with.

And y'know, those last few images, imagining solar-powered cities covered in greenery...they gave me the kind of lump in my throat I used to get as a kid in the 70s watching stuff like this that imagined a bright future for us all. (Cue Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)")
posted by dnash at 7:43 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

But I realize to answer that would have to involve bringing in issues of politics and entrenched economic interests, which is clearly not something this show wants to mess with.

I find it interesting that the show delves into the political/economic factors at play that either drove or restrained scientific discovery and applications when it does history, but it is very careful to avoid direct discussions of the current political/economic situation, and instead just focuses on the possibilities of our current time. It's interesting, and they obviously don't want to get too political while at the same time encouraging everyone to look around and ask questions.

I was hoping he was going to pull out the trick I saw on one of the late night shows (John Olivers?) where he had a fair and balanced scientific climate debate - 3 dissenters versus 97. It was done for the laughs of course, but it brought home the consensus in a way that no one else seems able to.
posted by nubs at 11:51 AM on June 6, 2014

I'm glad he didn't, because science isn't done by a vote. The 97 may be right on this particular issue, but sometimes the 3 are right and the 97 are wrong.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2014

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