Unemployment. Austerity. War. Terrorism. Climate Change. The world needs superheroes now more than ever. Along comes Marvel’s “The Avengers” to rave reviews and boffo box office. In tough times, movie audiences crave escapist entertainment and larger than life superheroes, which could help explain why “The Avengers” set a box office record for the biggest opening weekend ever in North America, tied for the fastest film to reach $1 billion and is currently the third highest grossing film of all time with a worldwide haul of nearly $1.4 billion.
Evangelical environmentalist Rev. Jim Ball, author of “Global Warming and the risen LORD,” believes the movie missed a chance to educate audiences about climate change. He doesn’t think the film answers the question as to why we need clean energy. Ball postulates that climate change denying conservatives could be influencing Hollywood to tone down the global warming message.
And actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Dr. Banner-The Incredible Hulk in the movie, wrote a piece yesterday in The Huffington Post making the connection between the Tesseract and renewable energy sources wind, water and sunlight (WWS). Ruffalo calls for a clean energy revolution to create jobs and revitalize the economy.
Even U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu promoted the film’s clean energy message on his Facebook page by posting this message:
I can rarely find the time to make it to the movies, but my staff is buzzing about The Avengers, which focuses on a new, limitless clean energy source called “The Tesseract.” In the film, there is evidently an intergalactic struggle to claim this new resource – one we can only win by relying on heroes like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, and the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, the group includes a couple scientists!
While the “Tesseract” may be fictional, the real-life global competition over clean energy is growing increasingly intense, as countries around the world sense a huge economic opportunity AND the opportunity for cleaner air, water, and a healthier planet. This is now a $260 billion global market, a sum that would impress even Tony Stark. According to the International Energy Agency, last year — for the first time — more money was invested worldwide in clean, renewable power plants than in fossil fuel power plants.
Given how big the opportunity is, and how fast it is growing, it is no surprise that 80 countries have adopted policies or incentives to capture a share of the clean energy market. The good news is that we have an advantage every bit as powerful as the Incredible Hulk: Americans’ talent for entrepreneurship and innovation is unrivalled by any other country in the world. We have world-leading scientific facilities that would make Bruce Banner green with envy, and the investments we’re making today in groundbreaking new technologies can help American businesses stay ahead of the curve.
Ultimately, however, the clean energy prize is still up for grabs and countries like China are competing aggressively. It’s not enough for us to simply invent the technologies of the future, we need to actually build and deploy them here as well. As President Obama noted recently, one step Congress should take immediately is to renew the expiring tax credits for clean energy – a step that will create jobs and help American companies compete. When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: “Invented in America, Made in America, Sold Around the World.”
What do you think about the clean energy message of “The Avengers”? Can we make the Tesseract a reality right now to save the planet with wind turbines, hydroelectricity and solar panels? What will it take for the renewable energy revolution to move full speed ahead?