The “Oiliest” Civilization

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In Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s film, “A Crude Awakening”, they claim that our addiction to oil will eventually spark our own apocalypse. Gelpke and McCormack support this claim by showing the film’s viewers how heavily the human race relies on fossil fuels, along with intense, real-life images of once prosperous oilfields in their present and desolate forms. Grueling images of major oil producers in Venezuela, Texas, and even Kuwait are shown in a then-and-now fashion to remind the viewers of our rapid oil consumption. Simultaneously, an orchestra plays music with intentions to personify a catastrophe, signified by the music’s use of deep swells and low tones and overall downbeat tempo. This music is another way to connect with the viewer in pathos, or emotional appeal, and sets the mood for the terrible predictions being stated by some of the world’s top physicians that our oil supply is scarcer than we’d like to believe. The film even cites an incorrect but important prediction by the late Dr. M. King Hubbert, that “the world’s oil supply would be depleted in 10-15 years” (Hubbert, Dr. M. King, 1975) from the year 1975. The film indicates that the only nation that hasn’t peaked in oil production is the Middle East, and that is the reason for our war.

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In Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s film, “A Crude Awakening”, they lay tons of evidence on the table to educate the viewers of how real the oil crash will be. Using philosophies of the past, such as Dr. M. King Hubbert’s peak theory and comparing them with today’s realities to reveal that those same theorists were a bit exaggerative, but they were on to something. Anyone would suspect that we are running out of oil if prices keep rising, and the markets are hastily searching for alternative fuels, and they wouldn’t be doing that if oil was unlimited. The writers of the film let the evidence speak for itself, eliminating a need for credentials and give the reader the raw truth, and backing up the research with actual physicists and geophysicists’ contributions of their own research. It all makes sense, and they make sure of it. The message in this film is an eye-opener to many, in almost worldwide proportions, but the main audience is the people who disregard the fact that oil is a finite commodity. With the luxuries that oil provides, such as cars, air conditioning, plastics, almost everything that that we rely on so heavily, our comfort zones would be destroyed if we deplete it all. But, it wouldn’t exactly mean an apocalypse because as us being human beings, the most adaptable species, we would surely perceive it as another challenge and get along the best way we can, until we discover an alternative power source. The film provides a great rebuttal, or counter-argument, to the possibilities of alternative fuels such as bio-fuels, by stating that the energy required to produce them is more than the production itself. I agree with Gelpke and McCormack that we are in serious trouble unless we find an alternative energy supply that could equal petroleum. But it seems unlikely as our resources are limited in terms of combustible elements necessary to power our machines. The movie made me reconsider our entire thought process towards mechanical forms of power, because they are all limited to a certain extent. I even thought of a magnetic powered engine that mimics the internal combustion engine but uses sequential magnetic repulsion to rotate the pistons instead of a gasoline explosion. An engine like that would satisfy our needs, but only momentarily, as it wouldn’t burn any gas but it’s still a feeble idea compared to what we, as humans, are capable of thinking of. In the film, the guy being pulled by the horse remarks, “It’s something about these horses. they’re alive, you know?”. And that brings me to thinking about if our transportation had a mind of its own, and not limited to cycles and routines. It would seem that we would have to revert back to rural lifestyles and use animals as our power source, but then that’d be looking backwards. But it’s still a giant step ahead of the oil with all of its handicaps, as living organisms are not limited and can only be endangered or scarce if they are outclassed and forced out of their habitat by pollutants. But I’m confident that we’ll find something sooner or later.

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