Watching the movie Collapse could very possibly scare you badly. It has the potential of causing you to make life-changing decisions after watching.
There is also a little bit of Zeitgeist in this, a pinch of paranoid conspiracy theory, some suspicion of the narrator being completely batshit nuts, all served up with a very large helping of kitchen table common sense. I turned off the DVD, took a deep breath and asked myself:
“What are we going to do now?”
There are people in power who get a lot of attention today who advocate that it’s good for the country and good for the planet to give tax cuts to billionaires, to drill for oil offshore (drill, baby, drill), to block stem cell research for ideological reasons, to censor school text books and don’t allow evolution to be taught since it’s just a theory and who don’t believe that presence of guns in the population is proportionally related to the murder rate in a country. Of course, global warming is a complete hoax. They advocate that the planet is warming naturally, like it has been doing for 500 million years, on and off. It just happens to be on now, for a while.
Those people will watch Collapse and call it paranoid bullshit, Al Gore-esque propaganda designed to deceive the American public from blindly consuming, and in the process costing us economic growth, jobs, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In the documentary by Vitagraph Films, directed by Chris Smith, the narrator Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles cop, writer and journalist, whistle-blower and current social critic lays it out very simple and nonchalant: More than half of the world oil supply has been used up, we are coasting down the tail end of the bell curve with absolutely no way out. The term to search for online is “Peak Oil.” Most if not all means of transportation, all plastics, fertilizers, much of electric power generation, is dependent on oil. Without oil, civilization collapses. The collapse has already started and is underway.
Ruppert is interviewed in what appears to be some gloomy warehouse or abandoned factory. I wondered why they chose such an unattractive and bleak location. He is a chain smoker. After the documentary I had the reflex of smelling my sleeves to make sure I didn’t have bar-smell. He tells his life story, the evolution of his ideas and the key points of his convictions. He does not come across as a nutcase or charlatan. He certainly isn’t getting rich off his writing and teachings. He is getting ridicule.
I have been absorbed by the concept of infrastructure and its fragility, and I have been haunted by the idea of starting a topical blog on energy and infrastructure, topics which fascinate me and consume a considerable amount of reverie during idle time, mostly when I am driving. This urge came to a head when I recently read Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, and watching Collapse today pushed me over the top. I need to start my Energy and Infrastructure blog.
An unshakable, unassailable fact is this: Oil is a limited resource. They are not making any more of it. We started using it up about 120 years ago in ever increasing quantities, and the thirst for it is currently rising exponentially. There is a supply of oil in the world, and we simply don’t know how much or how little is left. We’re guessing. But it will run out. It is only a matter of time when. Some say it’s running low now. Others say it will be a few hundred years. IT IS RUNNING OUT. Deal with it.
My review of Collapse here does not do the body of thought raised by it justice in any way. I can’t read one book on John Adams and consider myself an expert in American Revolutionary History. I can’t watch 82 minutes of Collapse and start running for the hills with a cache of organic seeds and live off the land. I can’t even argue the case one way or the other. But I can realize that unlike anything I have watched in a long time, this experience has triggered me to commit many, many hours on an ongoing basis on a new writing project, one to force myself to learn more about the subject, and another to pass on the Cliffnotes on energy and infrastructure to those who want to listen.
Rating: *** (not for content, but for the movie, cinematography, concept and presentation)