Crude Awakening

June 12th, 2008 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

This dissertation on peak oil plays a lot like the 2003 smash doco The Corporation, breaking the argument down into digestible chapters to give us the whole chilling picture about how one day — many say soon — we’re going to run out of oil.

Like all good documentaries, A Crude Awakening shows you the pictures and backs them up with the facts. Footage of the Azerbaijan capital of Baku during the local oil boom decades ago shows a thriving metropolis living the economic dream within the Soviet Union. Then, when the camera tracks slowly across the rusting drill towers disused tanks, and long-dead acres of land splashed with filthy patches of a bygone era, it says so much more than a table of figures. A quick flyover in Google Earth will show you the same, huge empty fields of tanks and cranes dotting a wide area.

Baku’s oil simply ran out, a phenomenon an increasing number of scientists believe is happening everywhere. If the figures in the movie are to be believed, finds have been decreasing, and in light of recent skyrocketing fuel prices, the technology needed to extract oil that’s ever-harder to reach will only raise the cost higher.

But the seemingly inescapable hole we’ve dug ourselves into is even scarier than the economic and financial cost. As one commentator spells out, it costs US$0.20 to transport six people less than a kilometre. No other transport method is as cost effective, which indicates how entrenched oil is in the world economy.

Couple that with the fact that every other alternative energy source now grabbing headlines — from nuclear to solar and wind — will only replace a fraction of our current oil use, and it seems there’s a very painful upheaval on the way.

The debate is so fraught with politics and money you never know who to believe, but we should seek out all the opinions we can, and A Crude Awakening is a level-headed yet terrifying argument.


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