Jackson School of Geosciences


Project Overview

1In 2008, documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch and geologist Dr. Scott Tinker set out to make a film on our energy transition. The goal was not to advocate for one technology over another, not to suggest how the transition should happen — but to try to determine how it actually would happen, based on scientifically-sound investigation and the practical realities of the world of energy as we discovered them. The result is Switch, the highly acclaimed, feature length documentary film that has screened to over 3 million viewers worldwide.

During the 3 years of filming and post-production, the film expanded into the Switch Energy Project, a multi-platform program, with its home being on the web. The website holds more than 5 hours of edited, short format video, including energy primers; edited interviews from all experts that appear (and many who don't) in the film; edited site visits; and much more.


Energy has become a highly politicized subject, but we were determined this project would not be. We pushed ourselves to look beyond assumptions and remain as objective as possible.

2Interviewees were selected for their deep knowledge and respected positions, not for their support of any issue or agenda, and are a broad mix of industry, government, academic and NGO leaders, from differing political backgrounds. The information in this project includes the opinions of these diverse experts along with years of research and learning from the field.

The end product has been embraced by energy companies and environmental groups, government agencies and leading universities, general audiences and most reviewers. However, because it does not overtly advocate for or condemn any resource, it has also angered some who do, including anti-nuclear protesters, renewable-only promoters, fossil fuel lobbyists, and some movie critics. We hope these widely divergent opinions indicate we've struck the right balance.

In early 2014 we will release the primary education components, anchored by the Switch Energy Lab short-format video series and created with two of our nonprofit partners. This series contains 28 new videos comprising over 80 minutes of high quality, new content. This will help to instill in new generations a fascination for and understanding of energy, so that they can make smart decisions for our future.

©2016 Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin