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Crude (Oil) Awakening

January 23, 2009


Oil Rig 009, originally uploaded by Ricardo Serpa.

One of the advantages of Netflix is having access to movies your local movie rental place wouldn’t stock. In this case they probably wouldn’t stock it for fear of all the nightmares that will result from watching it.

Honestly, J. and I could only make it half way through and then we had to take a break. I felt horrible for not being able to face the reality of the situation. That’s until I read all the reviews that expressed the same reactions (well most of them were at least able to make it all the way through in one sitting).

This documentary film faces the truth of the current oil sitaution head on by posing two questions. When is the oil going to run out? What’s going to happen when it does? The rotating collage of experts agree on one thing while demand for oil is steadily growing our current and potential supply of it is flat lining. Startling shots of the desolate remains that is the now-dry oil fields of Baku on the Caspian Sea graphically highlight the point. I tried to find something akin to those shots on flickr but came up short. These are not scenes tourists are going to snap while on holiday. And if you, like many, think we should tap every potential source off the coast of the US dry I challenge you to look at those shots and imagine that in your backyard. I doubt you will be so zealous in your search for cheap oil afterwards.

Once peak oil is established as fact the film’s experts start laying out the future’s bleak terms. First, transportation will be severely curtailed, most particularly air travel. Then comes the belt-tightening all around, as inexpensive oil-based fertilizers and food shipments dwindle away, leading to widespread starvation and a shrinking of the world’s population by as many as one or two billion people. Alternative energy sources will provide little aid because we are already late to the game in developing them. According to one expert we are already two decades behind the power curve. In a world where most documentaries encourage us to simple actions to create a better world for all this one stands out starkly black against the otherwise rosy hued view.

There is no sugar coating, no sound bite friendly bits to lighten up the mood. It’s straight up doom and gloom and because of that it’s the most honest look you will probably ever see on film.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jacquelyn permalink
    January 24, 2009 6:35 pm

    I believe this is the same thing as peak oil? Scary stuff.

    I read a fictionalized account of what the world would be like after peak oil, called World Made by Hand. Though it was fiction the author is considered an expert on peak oil. It made me really think about my lifestyle, and about how I would survive.

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