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Television Reviews : ‘Nova’ Doesn’t Make ‘Hot Enough’ Clear Enough

“Hot Enough for You?” asks the title of tonight’s edition of PBS’ “Nova,” suggesting that the generally excellent science show’s consideration of “the greenhouse effect” might be informal, lively, clear and to the point.

Unfortunately, it’s none of those things. If you’re expecting “Nova” to condense and explain all of the confusing, conflicting, uncertain and worrying claims about how atmospheric pollutants may be heating up the earth and causing other havoc, you’re going to be disappointed. A muddled subject has resulted in a muddled show (at 8 p.m. on Channels 28 and 15, 9 p.m. on Channel 50).

In the first half-hour, we’re deluged with various voices, speculations, mind-boggling figures, pessimistic scientific studies, inconclusive scientific studies, technical talk and a lot of “maybes.”

Several scientists voice their theories about the possible effects of carbon dioxide and other fossil-fuel wastes in the atmosphere: The overall temperature of the earth might go up, or maybe just temperatures in certain areas; the sea level could rise; there may be heavy crop damage, starvation, etc.

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“Hot Enough for You?” lacks both the perspective and the tools--a few graphics would have been nice--to make all of this comprehensible, or at least to sort out the more viable theories from the more far-fetched ones.

The program is a bit better in the final 15 minutes or so, where it considers potential solutions--from practical if controversial ones, such as more (and safer, less costly) nuclear energy, to extremely unlikely ones such as planting 250,000 acres of forest for every conventional-fuel energy plant.


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