Series Overview

Series Overview | Episode Descriptions

Green21 will explore and discuss
the contemporary environmental
issues facing our planet… (and)
will engage viewers and take the
discussion beyond the television set.

Hilary Finkel Buxton
American Public Television (APT)

The Green21 perspective is positive, empowering and intelligent. The series inspires viewers to re-imagine the world and their role in it. Threat-based reporting on climate change issues dominates the media, and this negative messaging plays to people’s fear and guilt, fostering apathy or a sense of overwhelm. Green21 is exceptional, featuring unlikely environmentalists and highlighting ways in which individuals and communities are making a difference.

The first section of each Green21 episode begins with a quick-paced, narrated montage that gives an overview of the issue. Viewers then meet one person – a builder, nurse or community organizer – working to address the issue in a positive way. For example, in the episode about energy, “Joule the Energy,” viewers meet Frank Wilson, a retired Navy captain who is installing solar shingles on his roof. In the episode about water, “Got H2O?,” viewers follow Imelda Padilla as she volunteers to teach tree planting workshops to youth in her Los Angeles neighborhood.

The next sections delve into the science, innovation and technology of the issue with recognized experts in the field. For example, in the episode about the science behind climate change and carbon cycles, “Counting, Measuring, Mapping,” Wattzon founder Saul Griffith introduces his online tool for computing and analyzing the total amount of energy needed to support all facets of one’s lifestyle. As Griffith demos the tool, he cites the axiom, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” In the episode about transportation, “On the Move,” one of the innovation sections highlights how automakers are implementing large-scale use of recycled materials in new cars, and creating lightweight but strong components which improve efficiency and save fuel.

Visionary thinkers conclude each episode by presenting the long view and offering creative solutions. In the final episode “We’re All Participants,” Chief Almir of the Surui tribe in the Brazilian Amazon tells how he forged a partnership with Google to equip the youth of indigenous tribes with technology to document changes in their environment. In the case of “On the Move,” the episode concludes by looking beyond personal transportation. Viewers meet the pioneers behind car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing and public transportation, and learn of agile ways to match needs with resources, leading not only to savings but new paradigms for the 21st century.

In the first season, Green21 will focus  on the issues of the day in the U.S., supplemented by international stories in China, India, Brazil and Switzerland. The second season will revisit timely topics with new stories, and the international focus will shift to other regions of the world, highlighting issues in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Australia and Venezuela.