Netflix is essentially an empty tube of toothpaste right now. We're all just scraping it against the bathroom counter to get any morsel that may be left inside. After giving up on the game show where people stay awake 24 hours to count quarters, a #DownToEarth sounded quite nice.
During the opening @ZacEfron lay shirtless in a hot springs as iconic doc narrator @AttenboroughSir graces us w/ his wisdom, "Energy here in this strange world, it is all around us." I thought, Finally, producers figured out how to make renewable energy interesting to the masses.
Only 20 minutes in, my partner said, "This is the 'Cats' of docu-series.” Well, damn, it sure was. With the pacing of a short YouTube videos, the episode quickly jumped from bromantic exchanges between Zac and his co-host @DarinOlien to vague interviews from their geo-tourism.
@ZacEfron calls @DarinOlien a "Guru of healthy living & superfoods." 1. In this case, the word Guru is appropriating. 2. From reviews of Darin’s book “Superlife,” he seems to capitalize on the trendy market of so-called wellness. (Btw check out #TheDreamPodcast on “wellness.")
As a nerd with some extra time on my hands — #StayHomeStaySafe — I wanted to look into some of these ideas that need clarifying. I’ve only made it through Episode 1. So observations are Iceland-centric. Here we go.
Our enthusiastically chill hosts start at a "geothermal wellness center" encompassed by epic Game-Of-Thrones-like mountain scenery. They're visiting the Laugarvatn Fontana. The @FontanaSpa shares the name of the town & lake where it resides, located in Iceland's "Golden Circle."
Tourist laud the this spa as they do the Blue Lagoon. Many visit for the Grams–with tagged photos showing fit folx holding champagne poolside–others bask in these warm waters that allegedly bring healing properties that stem from a combination of minerals and heat.
But at this point in the episode, wellness isn't why we're here anyway! No, we're here to talk about bread. The Bros talk w/ spa managing director Siggi Hilmarsson, who seems delightful. Siggi explains that a short walk away are volcanic black sands w/ boiling water beneath them.
In this episode, Hilmarsson could be better described as a baker whose mastered the traditional making of Icelandic Rye Bread called Hverabrauð. Simply, we can all call it lava bread. It's fascinating, truly. But Zac and Darien banter about BS rather than asking good questions.
So, let's put our curious selves in Zac's toasty lil beanie & big flannel. We can keep The Bros' rhetoric for the sake of consistency.

Hypothetical Q: "Hilmarsson, obviously the sand & water is hot because it's from a volcano. That’s sick. But, like, how does it stay boiling?"
*Curiously scratches mustache* 🤔

A follow-up could be: "Dope. Some would consider this an innovative approach to green energy, but hasn't your family been doing this for generations?"
"I know for sure that in village, I can track it down as far as 1800 something," Hilmarsson told @greatbigstory. "My grandmother taught my mother how to bake this bread, and my mother taught me."
Siggig might have continued saying it's a nice way to preserve a part of Iceland's past. "We have less snow today than we used to have," as he told @WBUR. "Climate change is obviously affecting the whole world…There are farmers here that have changed because of warmer weather."
But, despite it's a show about the environment, why go into that kind of detail? Alas, Hilmarsson explains the water beneath the sand was 95 degrees Celsius (AKA 203 degrees Fahrenheit), and @ZacEfron leaned closer to it, making the keen observation it was hot.
After 24 hours, this seven-pound, dense piece of carbohydrate mastery certainly is ready. As Zac is really good at observing, he noted that the bread was hot. Hilmarsson mentions it is cake-like & online reviews have mentioned a faint caramel-like taste.
The bros carry on like wayward sons. Let's skip to their visit to Hellisheiði Power Station, where they explore how geothermal and hydro power works. (Basically, hot water is pumped from deep underground and eventually turned into a stream that spins a turbine.)
They talk to ON Power's ( ) managing director of natural resources Marta Rós Karlsdóttir and geologist Sandra Ósk Snæbjörnsdóttir, who kindly explain to The Bros that turbines have big rotor blades in them, and that the rotation turns into electricity.
Marta: 45 megawatts per turbine.
Zac: 45 megawatts!

A voiceover then cuts in saying, “45 megawatts can run 45,000 homes.” Followed by, “that’s a lot of energy.” Yes, yes it is. But Zac – and his equally uninformative cohost – seems to have oversimplified this.
Marta only said “megawatts” (MW) not “megawatts per hour (MWh).” So, we can assume the turbine’s capacity is based on per year. 45,000 homes seems to based on this logic:
➡️ 1 MW = 1,000 kilowatts
➡️ Assuming the average home uses 1,000 KW.
➡️ Math: 45(MW) X 1,000(KW) = 45,000.
As noted from @NRCgov, “The commonly used 1 MW of generation equates to 1,000 homes is a myth that likely originated years ago when households were smaller and air conditioning wasn’t as common.”

Also, Icelanders use more energy that Americans.
💡The unit measuring electric energy in most utility bills is megawatts/hour (MWh) or kilowatts/ hour (KWh). Icelanders consume about 54,000 KWh per person. The bros don’t talk about that & ask if UFOs are the ones *really* using all this power. (It’s b/c it’s cold there, yo.)
By all means, powering any # of houses w/ green energy is great. Just wish The Bros explained measurements a bit better b/c math is hard & if we're all to switch to green energy in the future we should know a lil bit about how these units work b/c that's how we'll pay for it.
Anyway, so, then Zac asks about any “downsides” to geothermal energy. Sandra says, “um … of course there are always downsides.” She was likely taken aback b/c their groundbreaking (literally) @CarbFix method – which neutralizes CO2 and hydrogen sulfide the station emits.
The Bros go to see how it works. Igloo-shaped domes cover boreholes, where CO2 is injected back into the ground & turned into rock. Darin: “That’s mother earth Bro!” NO! Thats our IMPACT on mother earth, bro. We have to capture our carbon somehow.
But @DarinOlien finally chimes in with some insight, “This could be an answer for many industries around the world that have excess CO2.”

Honestly, while more could be explained, like @CarbFix, I’m just glad they got some exposure on this show.
Ok, last tangent. Toward the end of the episode The Bros visit Gullfoss Falls, a popular tourist attraction. The Bros appear to open this bit by doing what so many tourists do wrong: Go to unsanctioned areas. This is damaging to the natural landscape & is just dangerous for folx.
An alleged employee of Iceland's Enviro Agency says they’re on a “cliff zone" & brings The Bros to a viewpoint & gives some stats in meters. This baffles The Bros who didn’t Google the metric system before the interview. But they did Google how many people visit per year: 1.34M.
As I step down from my soapbox, you may be wondering: is she bias against The Bros? And the answer is: Yes, she is. Too long has the environmental movement and its leadership been white and male. And while this docu-series not only lacks good info, it also lacks representation.
TLDR: #DownToEarth E1 highlights viable green energy solutions. But for whom? Zac says, “Electricity is easy to take for granted.” But it’s not for anyone who just barely paid their utility bill. Bros soaking in the Blue Lagoon, riffing on solutions isn't relatable for most.
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