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Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil

Today, I watched the film Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil. The film has been showing on the History Channel, but I just found the entire film available for watching on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s website.

The film is broken into three sections: the origin of crude oil, the discovery of uses for crude oil and our subsequent addiction, and the future of oil. I found the film to be interesting, but nothing in the film was too shocking to me, as I try to keep up with oil-related issues. The most informative part for me was the part on how crude oil forms and why there is such a large reserve in the Middle East. There are some other key takeaways from this film that make it an important film to watch:

– One obvious point mentioned is that crude oil took millions of years to form, but within 150 years time since the demand for crude oil skyrocketed (originating from oil drilling in Pennsylvania), we will have depleted most sources of crude oil. At least we will have depleted enough of it to where extraction cannot come close to the amount demanded.

-The film also drove home the point that there is virtually nothing that isn’t made from oil. Our oil addiction goes far beyond driving vehicles and delivering goods. If the price of oil skyrockets, there is not one commodity that won’t be affected by the rise of oil prices.

– The film really hits home the point that global climate change is a serious issue. I’ve been under the assumption that peak oil will be the catalyst that finally starts to force people to find alternative energy sources. This may be true, but even so, if we use up most of our known crude oil reserves, this will produce enough carbon dioxide to match the levels that existed during the Jurassic period. There was no ice at the Earth’s poles during that period and the oceans were essentially filled with toxins and depleted of oxygen. Meaning that humans likely would not survive an event of this magnitude. The film also makes a rather ironic point—that if this cataclysmic even does happen, it will lead to the production of more oil, and the cycle continues. Of course, humans will likely be dead then.

– Another area the film touched on is peak oil and the devastating effects it will have on the economy and our way of life… the suburban sprawl model will come to an end.

As soon as I shut off the film today, my TV was tuned into CNN. They were interviewing a person that worked at BP. He was saying the same exact things that others interviewed in the movie were saying—we are headed for skyrocketing costs and a potential economic meltdown if we don’t find alternative sources.

This is what I don’t think people understand about energy and oil. The people making these predictions are not a bunch of hippies saying to get out of your cars and help save the world. No—there are oil and energy executives, sometimes conservative Republicans, financial gurus, and famous planners and architects making these predictions. Economists are investing in all energy sources because they foresee the troubles ahead. I still don’t hear much this topic though unless I dig for information about it.

While I certainly don’t undervalue the importance of solving the climate change crisis we face (and I’m very glad to see that almost everyone seems to think it’s a serious issue now), we need to make sure that peak oil and how to deal with energy costs are mentioned in the same breath.

If we don’t, and prices do end up skyrocketing, I don’t think there will be much that would separate industrialized nations from what’s happening now in Zimbabwe. We will be fighting each other over bread, and it’s not going to be pretty.

While I wandered a bit off the main focus of the movie, I do feel that it’s worth watching. If you have no interest in this subject matter, then I would imagine it would be rather boring. I would strongly recommend for anyone to watch End of Suburbia first before watching this film, however.

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