Saturday, July 05, 2008

A CRUDE AWAKENING: THE OIL CRASH - a primer on peak oil

So a friend of mine was bugging me about why oil prices were so high (being tangentially connected to my day job) and I recommended he watch A CRUDE AWAKENING. Be very clear, I don't think this is a great documentary. I was pretty bored watching it, but like I said, I'm more than familiar with its arguments. It does, however, serve as a primer on where oil comes from, how much we consume relative to history, and the problems with securing supply for the future. It also presents a simple diagnosis of the relationship between the oil business and international politics.

I have two quibbles with A CRUDE AWAKENING. The first is the manner in which the film-makers present their arguments and use the medium of cinema. Frankly, the movie plays like a well-made TV documentary - I can see no reason why it would need a theatrical release. The more substantive problem I have is that by focusing on the contested "peak oil" arguments, the documentary gets caught arguing against a straw man. Whether or not we're at, or have surpassed peak oil - even if we had billions of gallons of untapped oil ready to pump into the world economy - we'd still be reckless in using it because of the environmental damage. Surely that's the bigger point than this scare story?

A CRUDE AWAKENING: THE OIL CRASH opened in the UK last November and is available on DVD.

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