This evening at AGU there was a special screening of Crude, a film about our love affair with petroleum– oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.
The documentary won Richard Smith of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this year’s AGU Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism, a prestigious prize for outstanding reporting that makes geophysical science accessible and interesting to the general public. In Crude, Smith explores the geological formation of oil, its discovery and ascendancy in society and the potentially catastrophic consequences of our absolute dependence on it. Ironically, the very conditions under which oil was originally formed – a greenhouse world with elevated CO2 levels – are exactly those that its consumption could return us to.
Smith does an excellent job of conveying how oil, formed from the compressed remains of tiny plants and animals, could cause the demise of the most sophisticated species to have ever lived. And although we may be running out of the stuff, its pervasiveness in society means that weaning ourselves off oil will be no mean feat. There are no clear estimates of exactly how much oil is left in the ground, but the overwhelming message in Crude is that there are easily enough fossil fuel reserves to radically alter our climate should we use them all.
Overall, well worth a watch…