Environmental Action discussed at Egyptian Theatre

By Sasha Dobek

The Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., showed the third film in its seven-part Green Lens Film Series 7 p.m. Thursday.

The series of documentaries is free to the public and targets social and environmental issues, followed by guest speakers from NIU faculty and staff.  Thursday’s film, “The Happening – A Clean Energy Revolution,” was followed by a Q&A session led by Kevin B. Martin from the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy at NIU. 

The film was directed by James Redford, son of actor Robert Redford, and is a documentary following James’ journey through renewable energy.  The viewer finds out just what that means through multiple interviews with people representing energy startup investors, politicians, renewable energy engineers and people behind the grid. 

The audience learns about the dynamics of solar, wind, hydro-electric and micro-hydro-electric power sources verses the standard coal-burning power plants with Redford. Decentralizing and distributing solar power creates multitudes of jobs, according to the film.  

The film projects the idea that sometimes a political agenda will stop the growth of clean energy because of the monopolies big energy providers hold on the market and politicians. People are starting to get more involved in their government and in where their power comes from.  A lot of the time, homeowners who utilize solar panels will end up generating all the electricity they need, and sell the excess back to their electric providers, according to the film.

The film demonstrated the benefits of renewable energy and the feasibility of putting it into use on both a large and a small scale. 

“Vast amounts of wind power are coming out in China,” Martin said during the Q&A. “Type in Beijing air quality and you’ll know why.” Martin also explained how electric utility companies such as ComEd really just deliver the electricity, and people can actually pick and choose their suppliers.  Another option is initiating an effort for a community solar program, he said. 

The next film in the Green Lens series, “Divide & Conquer,” will be shown 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Egyptian Theatre.