C&L July Film of the Month: A CRUDE AWAKENING The Oil Crash
Documentary by Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack
“Oil is our God. I don’t care if someone says they worship Jesus, Buddha, Allah, whoever – they actually worship petroleum.”
Mathew David Savinar, Lawyer and Founder of Lifeaftertheoilcrash.net
If An Inconvenient Truth could be considered The Wizard of Oz of environmental documentaries, then A Crude Awakening would have be considered the Rosemary’s Baby of that same genre.
Global warming. So what? Melting polar icecaps? Call me later. A Crude Awakening paints a picture so much grimmer than anything Americans have seen in their lifetimes. Or in the movies this summer, for that matter. It is dark. It is primordial. It is terrifying. It is - The end of oil, as we know it.
While technically speaking, oil is running out, for it to go bone dry will take a few lifetimes. But do not dare exhale a sigh of relief. That fact is not relevant to this splendid documentary. It seems there is a bigger problem. One that is arriving faster than Netflix. That problem is global peak oil. Say it over and over, folks. Say it until your tongue gets used to saying it. Write it down. Tell your children. Open the windows of your Ford Explorer and scream it out into the dark abyss. You will be seeing and hearing about it for the rest of your lives – possibly beginning today.
Written, produced and co-directed by Basil Gelpke, from Switzerland and Ray McCormack, from Ireland, A Crude Awakening will scare the living Bush out of you and at the same time leave you dumbfounded. If you’re like me, you’ll be grasping at straws for a logical way out of this oncoming runaway train that some experts have already dubbed the “post-industrial stone age.”
Now that, my friends, is an inconvenient truth. It is a truth so scary, so inconvenient, that few will even utter its name. Once again, for the record, its name is Peak Oil. And no one seems to have the slightest idea what to do about it.
You might not know about it but THEY do. The heads of the ‘Seven Sisters’ oil companies. The Saudis. OPEC. Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force. Bill and Hillary – they ALL know about Peak Oil. Everybody but YOU! Maybe its time YOU found out? Huh? Curious? End of the World? Saving for your toddler’s college education? Uh, sorry, that won’t be necessary.
The world as we know it is coming to an end soon.
That doesn’t come from a religious cult like the Moonies or conspiracy lunatics with tin foil hats in Idaho. Rather it is the uncontested scientific conclusion of the world’s most widely respected geologists, physicists, oil executives, bankers and politicians.
Gelpke, with a background in anthropology and economics, worked as a war correspondent before becoming a scientific filmmaker. His partner, McCormack who has a history in corporate filmmaking also holds an Honors Degree in Environmental Policy and Management. These guys know their stuff, are extremely serious and bring on-camera expertise to back them up. A parade of renowned academics, scientific experts and corporate advisors from across the political and economic spectrum enter and re-enter this shocking film. Each time they reappear they bring with them overwhelming amounts of irrefutable evidence that the world as we know it is about to go through some very savage changes.
And they mean NOW.
I don’t want to alarm anybody but you should be afraid. VERY AFRAID. Not of bin Laden. Not of AIDS. Not of global warming. Not of George Bush. But of global Peak Oil and what that represents.
For the uninitiated, in order to understand this movie one has to understand peak oil. It is not very difficult.
Peak Oil, also known as Hubbert’s Peak was named for the Shell Oil geologist, Dr. Marion King Hubbert. In 1956, M.K. Hubbert accurately predicted that America’s domestic oil production would peak in 1970.
His peers laughed at Hubbert at the time.
He had successfully examined the amount of new discoveries of oil in the United States from the 1930s onward. Those rose and fell like a bell curve. After a huge spike, they were simply running out of places in the U.S. that held oil fields. He figured that if the discovery of oil supplies formed a bell curve, then the production of the oil would form a matching bell curve soon afterwards.
He was dead right.
By 1970, U.S. oil production had peaked and the decline was in rapid freefall. Using the same extrapolations for the entire world, Hubbert predicted that world oil production would be peaking by 1995. It would have been spot on accurate, had the politically motivated oil embargoes of 1973 and 1979 not been enacted, setting back world oil peak by just 10-15 years.
In other words...NOW.
“The United States had been the largest oil producer on earth for nearly 100 years and nobody thought it would ever end,” explains Mathew Simmons an energy investment banker and advisor to president George W. Bush.
The last new frontiers in oil discovery were in the Alaskan North Slope, Siberia and the North Sea. That was in 1967, 1968 and 1969 respectively. All have peaked since then. The North Sea oil finds were indeed massive and quite unknown at the time. A huge discovery. It peaked in 40 years. Next year Britain will actually have to import oil for the first time since the discovery.
The world has been so thoroughly explored with massive new technological devises that most experts feel there is no new oil out there. In fact, advanced engineering technology has created in effect, “super straws” to suck all known oil out of the ground faster than ever before believed possible.
The desperation of the oil companies have led them to oil shale fields in Canada and steaming old well sites for the very last drops of “the devil's excrement.”
Two thirds of the known oil fields today are in the Persian Gulf. In 1978, Iran was producing 6 million barrels a day. Today? 3-3 ½ million barrels a day. This is indicative of the downward slope of oil production following a peak. The Saudis have found only one new oil field since 1967. They pump 12 million barrels a day yet each year they claim their reserves are exactly the same. How is this possible? It’s not. In the late 80’s all the OPEC countries simply increased their “known” oil reserves by 50% for political reasons and quota busting.
With the massive industrialization of India and China already underway, it is becoming quite obvious that oil production will not be able to keep up with demand. In fact, we already see this happening with the doubling of our own gas prices in just the past few years. Experts believe that those same prices will rise steadily and quickly to $15 per gallon.
And that’s when things will really and finally get hairy. Once oil peaks, the downward crash is fast and furious as the entire world scrapples for the remaining apples.
Our entire civilization has been built on cheap oil. Not only are we reaching the end of the artificial American dream, peak oil experts also feel we are on the precipice of a massive worldwide Age of Depression. We have become the victims of our own success. Huge population booms have occurred due to the mid-century “green revolution” in farming that produced enough cheap food to feed the entire world. Our cities and society grew at staggering rates because of the use of the cheapest fuel source ever discovered.
“One barrel of oil for $100, will produce as much energy as you would get from 12 people working all year,” says Roscoe Bartlett a scientist and U.S. Republican Congressman from Maryland.
But the times they are a changin’.
Ten or fifteen years ago, the per capita income of the average Saudi was $28K. Today its down to $6K. There has been a huge drop in the standard of living for the average Saudi. Strap yourselves in folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. We’re next.
There seems to be two solutions:
1) Multinational resource wars. Militarize our population to allow them to continue to drive SUVs. Tell them what the stakes and go for it. Invade till the last drop.
2) Begin to prepare for the end of cheap oil and adjust to available alternatives as soon as possible. As bleak as they may seem.
Just so you understand what we’re up against.
If we hybridized every stinking car on the road today, we would still be consuming the same amount of gasoline as we are now in just 5-7 years. With each year demand grows enormously. With no end in sight.
The alternative fuels everyone has been jabbering about lately don’t cut it. If you added all the alternative fuel sources up, that is if they were even ready and functioning at massive levels, it wouldn’t even make a dent in the loss of oil.
Oil is that cheap.
“We pay more for a bottle of drinking water than we do for a gallon of gasoline,” explains David L. Goodstein, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology.
If you went nuclear alone, we would need 10,000 new nuclear plants immediately and then the damn uranium would run out in 10 years anyway. Unless you’re France. Their entire country is powered by nuclear power. Just watch were you put the trash, Jacques.
The most fascinating chapter of the film is entitled, Life After The Peak. This shows us the other side of the Hubbert Peak. The downward slope. Ouch. We got a snippet of it in 1973, when OPEC turned off the U.S. oil spigot because of the Israeli War. Cars lined up for miles to get the last drop of gas. Everyone freaked, but quickly forgot about it when the man hooked them up again with the Persian Black.
In the near, near future, driving cars and flying by plane will be a luxury reserved only for the Super Rich. The financial markets will shrink due to the elimination of petro dollars. The stock markets will collapse worldwide. Populations will shrink immensely as hunger and starvation sweep the globe.
An apple will cost $7.
Hydrocarbon Man’s days are severely numbered.
Oh, and if you think hydrogen is gonna save you, think about this: It currently takes 3 – 6 gallons of gasoline to make enough hydrogen to drive a car the equivalent distance that one gallon of gasoline would drive it.
Coal? Too dirty. We’ll choke to death. Wind power? Keep blowing. Hydroelectric? Every river is already dammed. Biomass? Too much energy to create it.
In fact, the only science that seems to have any chance in hell is solar. How ironic. But there is a catch. A huge catch. It would take a field of solar panels half the size of California to power the country. The sun. Of course. How could we miss it?
When Jonas Salk found the cure for polio, he was asked if he had filed a patent on his new vaccine. Salk looked quizzically at the reporter and famously said, “No. After all, could you patent the Sun?”
Hey, New Mexico. Let’s go. Everybody out! That means you.
See A Crude Awakening before there are no more petrochemicals left to even make DVDs.
A screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert is the Senior Film and Book Reviewer for CrooksandLiars.com. As a filmmaker he has produced numerous documentaries for HBO. Groubert is also the former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he has written for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications. He is currently at work on his memoirs…or so he says.