Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oil, the national turmoil

If you need inspiration to conserve, or better yet, to become more educated about energy, then you should probably watch A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. Like nearly every documentary, this one has a strong point of view. The thesis is that global economic and population growth has been fueled by oil and now the oil is running out. The range of interviewees is impressive. We go from a political scientists, to an oil minister in Azerbaijan to a Bush energy adviser. While Americans dominate, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela and Britain are also represented. As the new super-consumers, India and China are missing, as are viewpoints that argue against the thesis.

Despite that, the movie is not alarmist. The tone is very calm, with the exception of the survivalist guy. The most effective interviews came from Matthew Simmons, the former Bush energy adviser and investment banker. He explains the concept of peak oil and describes the global decline in production lucidly and persuasively. I was less taken with the political scientist who took a reductionist approach to oil and foreign policy. This may be driven by the films editing, as context appears have to been dropped in a few cases.

On the subject of oil, I am reading the End of Oil. It's a very readable summary of the major issues in the energy economy including alternatives, legislation and global warming. After watching Matthew Simmons, I would like to read his book Twilight in the Desert, which I had seen as being overly technical.

For a look at the possible geopolitical effects, take a look at Michael Klare's Resource Wars. One of the classic, if a bit dated, studies of the oil industry is the Prize.

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