Green drives hope for the future

Much of what we hear about the environment these days is doom and gloom. The ozone layer is hopelessly damaged and depleted, the greenhouse effect is not being curbed, deforestation is a scourge that continues unabated and the disposal of waste is a continuing challenge. There seem to be solutions to these and many other problems, yet they lie just out of reach. Stymied by short-sighted politicians, lack of corporate sponsorship or international agreements that do too little, efforts to rectify our environmental missteps continue to fall short, the cumulative effect being the eventual death of the planet.

However, there are occasional glimmers of hope, signs that perhaps there is a way out of this dilemma what with new approaches and technology that could help turn the tide. The optimistic and thrilling new documentary And We Go Green, provides just that. The focus is on Formula E racing, an international auto racing circuit that only allows electric cars on the track. Directors Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville fashion an intriguing film that features a colorful cast of characters, a quest to manufacture groundbreaking technology and exciting racetrack footage in which bitter rivalries play out at high speed.

Founded by former driver and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, Formula E racing is a circuit that's expanded in leaps and bounds over its first four years but great strides are still to be made. The batteries used to power the automobiles lack the energy to sustain themselves for an entire race. As such, each racing team is required to have two autos on hand, the drivers having to switch over to a fresh car mid-way through the race. Needless to say, having to do so steals some of the excitement from the sport. However, Agag's goal is to have batteries developed that will last an entire race for the fifth season, something we see his technicians furiously working on.

The drivers are an eclectic group, some veterans from the Formula One circuit looking for a new challenge, others having burned bridges, looking for a fresh start. And like any competitive sport populated by alpha males, bitter rivalries exist that add another layer to the excitement seen on the track. Andre Lotterer is a rookie driver from France with movie-star looks and nerves of steel; Sam Bird of the United Kingdom is a charmer who casts himself as an underdog, belying just how good he is behind the wheel; Lucas Di Grassi is a veteran Italian driver who has been with Formula E from the beginning and is wary of any newcomers, especially Nelson Piquet Jr., a young hotshot with a scandal hanging over his head, trying to emerge from the shadow of his legendary father.

The personal animosity that exists between some of these men and their inherent competitive nature makes for exciting racing and some dramatic flareups on the track, all of which are captured by Stevens and Venville, who chronicle the racing season as it travels across Europe before coming to Americas, large crowds cheering them at every stop.

Just as exciting as Ford v. Ferrari or any other Hollywood product, the film never ceases to thrill or entertain. However, what resonates is Agag's continued drive to make the autos he oversees better and better, moving faster and further, producing no CO2 emissions as they go. He's convinced that the work he and his engineers are doing will help save the planet. Green convinced me that he's right and for all of our sakes, let's hope he is.

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