May 29, 2005

Storm On The Horizon

I was channel surfing recently when I came across this promo on FX for Oil Storm. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find much information on the plot of the movie, just the air date of June 5th @ 8PM. From the commercial I saw, the movie narrates the ramification of a hurricane in Central America which destroys 1 million barrels of oil, leading to skyrocketing oil prices in the US. Ultimately, a state of bedlam ensues as the US dependence on foreign oil is exposed. I read somewhere online that it takes place in 2007. It must take place sometime in the future as we imported an average of 11.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from January to October last year and consumed about 20.4 million bbl/d, and experts believe that the US has almost 21.9 billion barrels of oil in reserve as of the 1st of this year.

Even though Oil Storm will almost certainly prove to be a sensationalistic exploitation of current fears about US energy policy, I still believe such movies do an important job of getting environmental issues on the radar for people who wouldn't normally think about them. The Day After Tomorrow is case and point. Although it set the pace of global climate change at an almost absurd rate and was a silly movie in general, it provided a real booster shot to the global warming debate. I also think it picked up on a real misunderstanding between the government and the public on the environment, climate change in particular. According to a study published by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in October 2004, 71% of the American public, 72% of leaders (admittedly a murky term), and 68% of administration officials favored the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Yet it was unanimously rejected by the Senate that same year. You can argue that big business was behind this, but the unanimous rejection in light of public opinion indicates that many representatives either don't understand their constituencies or don't think their opinion matters.

Okay, that was enough of a tangent, back to Oil Storm. Politicized movies bring important issues to the masses. Hypotheticals like Oil Storm, albeit outlandish, can be good for intensifying the debate. The US can't rely on oil forever and steadily climbing oil prices have screamed of the need for more research and development of clean, renewable sources of energy. Although I vehemently disagree with drilling in the ANWAR, I have noticed that Bush has recently been quietly promoting biodiesel and ethanol as alternative fuels. I think this is a good place to get the ball rolling, but we still have a way to go before we achieve a responsible energy policy. Check out this cool alternative energy blog for more on developments in the industry.

12 comments:

  1. Alternative fuel development is important, no doubt. Bush has also tried to push hydrogen fuel alternatives. But you lose all credibility when you talk about global warming and comparing it in any way to the trype like The Day AFter..

    Maybe your pretty young, Adam, but I remember when Iwas in the Navy in the early seventies, we were all in an uproar because of reports we were headed into an ice age. Now, thirty years later later, despite real actual atmospheric data showing minute warming in the last 100 years, you want us to change our lives because of climate models that don't even take into consideration such basics as clouds. The best imperical evidence we have seems to be that the Sun, strangely enough, appears to have more impact on the heating and cooling of the earth than do we industrial behemoths.

    Or, maybe you're not young and naive, maybe you're one of the researchers to which the gov't is forking over $2 billion a year in research grants to come up with a crisis. I could manufacture one too for that kind of money. I sure wouldn't want to come up with an answer like, "sorry guys, we don't really know what the fuck's going to happen in five years, much less a hundred, so give the money to someone else".

    Let's see, at the present advertised rate of sea level rise (1.8 mm/year), in a hundred years or so, that would be about...oh...7 INCHES!!! Damn, there goes NYC! Cuba disappears!

    Or, we could just back up two paces on the beach. Whatever.

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  2. "But you lose all credibility when you talk about global warming and comparing it in any way to the trype like The Day AFter.."

    If you'd actually read my post, you would notice that I said The Day After Tomorrow set the pace of climate change at an absurd rate. However, it is a well documented fact that small changes in the climate can have a tremendous impact on global weather patterns. No, there isn't going to be an ice-age tomorrow and yes climate change is a natural process but greenhouse gas emission have sped it up significantly. Ecosystems are extremely delicate and the changes in mean temperature predicted for the next century (anywhere from 3 to 10 degrees F)could have numerous potentially harmful consequences. I really don't think sticking our heads in the sand is the best solution as you seem to indicate:

    "the gov't is forking over $2 billion a year in research grants to come up with a crisis. I could manufacture one too for that kind of money. I sure wouldn't want to come up with an answer like, "sorry guys, we don't really know what the fuck's going to happen in five years, much less a hundred, so give the money to someone else"."

    hmm...perhaps we should send it over to Iraq so it can mysteriously disappear without explanation.

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  3. Anonymous4:03 AM

    Well as it was said earlier know one really knows what is going to happen. Personally if what I have been readinf is true we are in for one bad time. Possibly the end of cheap energy and life as we know it now.

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  4. Anonymous4:05 AM

    Well as it was said earlier know one really knows what is going to happen. Personally if what I have been readinf is true we are in for one bad time. Possibly the end of cheap energy and life as we know it now.

    http://lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

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  5. Chris said: "The Day After Tomorrow is case and point. Although it set the pace of global climate change at an almost absurd rate and was a silly movie in general, it provided a real booster shot to the global warming debate."

    You say the movie provides a booster shot to the global warming debate, and I'm simply saying it's an illigitimate boost. All hype, no fact.

    I'm not suggesting we stick our heads in the sand, only that we look at facts, not hype. And gov't grant recipients are, imho, subject to real conflict of interest issues. Sort of like experts hired in litigation--if you don't have the right opinion, you don't get hired.

    Consider the recent issues about mercury output levels and how dangerous it is to infants, etc. No one says it's not potentially harmful, but significant steps have been taken to reduce mercury atmosphere output to 25% of what it was two decades ago despite the increased voluem of activity in that timeframe.

    Our industries are spending billions a year to improve our air quality, yet environmentalists expect us to cut our economic throats with the Kyoto rollbacks without holding other major producers of pollution like China and India to a similar standard. This is a "green" blog, perhaps you can explain the lopsided logic.

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  6. Sorry Adam, I got you confused with Chris.

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  7. Well the logic, from China and India's POV, is simple. Europe and North America have reaped the benefits of careless and cheap industrialization while creating almost the entire burden of the greenhouse gas problem, so why should those countries be barred from doing the same? For them, it's an equity issue.

    Of course, I wish they would agree to curb their emissions and invest in smarter, greener routes to industrialization, but for America not to abide by the Kyoto protocol because of what China and India do is downright ridiculous and incredibly irresponsible. The Kyoto protocol is close to meaningless without our participation because we contribute about half the world's greenhous gas emissions -- the overall rate at which we put them out has actually increased since the "Clear Skies" initiative, perhaps the most blatnatly Orwellian policy ever named.

    I'm not even going to have the discussion about the scientific certainty issues; the unanimous consensus among THOUSANDS OF THE WORLD's best scientists is real, and global warming caused by humans is real. Not even policy-making Republicans really believe there is doubt anymore, it's just their party line rhetoric to dodge the issue by saying they want to wait for "sound science." (Cf. the recent three-part article, as long as a short book in total, from The New Yorker.)

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  8. Anonymous6:18 AM

    I wish people who didn't have a clue about science would just shut their mouths and let those who actually have a clue make policy.

    It just doesn't work that way with people. People love to talk out their asses all day long.

    People are so fucking stupid and annoying, I'm going to try not to enjoy watching them piss their pants when shit really starts to hit the fan.

    Population has doubled in the last 50 years and the largest mass extinction of species since 65 million years (when the dinosaurs died out) has already occured.

    China is going to bid high for the dwindling oil supplies that our economy depends on, and morbidly-obese, blissfully-ignorant, Bush-loving morons are going to have to work a lot harder to stay afloat.

    Just remember, some of us told you so a long time ago and you ignored us.

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  9. Anon 28:58 AM

    Not to worry Anonymous, not only will we control mideastern oil in ten years, we will have Alaska, our West coast and the Gulf coast looking like Texas of the 1930's. Chrismas trees everywhere! The Chinese can buy whatever we can spare them!

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  10. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Regular Unleaded $0.999 OR BUST!

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  11. Anonymous12:28 AM

    "the oil storm" is a warning to the sheeple of what will happen if the smirking chimp does not get his energy bill passed in congress. he wants to make us happy to pay $3.00/gallon.

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  12. Anonymous12:06 AM

    I think all you Kyoto supporters have forgotten that the treaty would most likely cripple the world economy, which would lead to major unemployment, which would in turn lead to greater levels of poverty; and people mired in poverty tend not to give a rat's a** about the environment.

    Chew on that thought a bit, my dear greenies.

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