Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review: Crude Impact

This film examines the way in which the petrochemical industry has manipulated events around the world to its advantage, and the various effects from the over-use of resources.

It starts with an interesting factoid ... that for a zillion or so years human population on this planet remained steady until agriculture was developed. Ever since the development of agriculture approximately 10,000 yrs ago human beings have ever more successfully learned to exploit the resources of this planet. The pattern is to move into an area, extinguish all competition, and extract every last resource. The beginning of the fossil fuel age, which began approx 200 years ago with the adoption of coal and later with the adoption of oil, began an extreme rise in population accompanied by an extreme increase in the rate the human society was able to extract every last resource.

The use of oil has had grave impacts on our environment and our society. And there is a barely recognized threat of the looming shortfall in oil production.

The astonishing thing is we could very well live just as well as we do today while using less resources simply by being smarter about resource use.

Another astonishing factoid is that Americans are no happier now than 50+ years ago despite consuming a zillion times more resources than we did 50+ years ago. This is proof that the over-consumptive habits Americans have do not produce happiness, and raises the question of why we do so. Why not slow down instead?

While most of the movie focuses on the bad effects from using oil and the danger and likely traumatic consequences of the looming shortfall in oil production, the last bit of the movie raises an interesting point. Even if there were some magic technology developed that provided all the energy our society needed and produced no pollution.. would that solve the problems we have and we'd never face another resource crunch? Nope. First, the human society we live in has shown an unceasing appetite for increasing resource use at all cost so if industry had limitless energy they'd simply use it to pave the whole planet into factories and shopping malls. But more important is that the energy consumption is only one part of the pattern. Other resources are also in limited supply and also face a production shortfall at some point in the future.

What's most important to change is the behavioral patterns of our society. Since society behavior patterns are based on the behaviors of individuals the change begins with each of us individually, but the change also has to be made over the whole of society.

Books about the Oil Peak

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