Sunday, April 01, 2007

Crude Impact

I just finished watching this movie for the second time, this time with John. I watched it by myself the other day. It really is an excellent movie; it talks about all the areas where humans have had an impact on the earth and other species because of fossil fuel, about how global warming, the global economy and the energy crisis are all interrelated, and how just small things can make a difference if every one does them. One of the things it said was that if every one just replaced 1 regular light bulb with a fluorescent bulb, there would be 1 billion less lbs. of carbon released every year and that's like taking 1 million cars off the road. That's astounding! Another thing was that if you tell people that they are going to have to sacrifice and give things up they usually do not want to listen and make the changes that will be necessary. But if you can convince them that changes will lead to a better quality of life for them and their children and grandchildren, they will make those changes. One thing that Americans don't always grasp is that many European countries have high living standards and yet they consume about 1/2 of the amount of resources that Americans do. And I don't think people really want to use up everything and not leave resources for coming generations. If you asked, I'm sure most people would say that helping to insure that their descendants enjoyed a good quality of life is important. Of course one of our biggest issues is transportation, and it's a really difficult one to get around. But as oil becomes more expensive and it becomes obvious that there really is no miracle energy source out there, I think other things will happen. I think more people will work from home, I think communities will be formed that are walkable and bikeable, I think we'll take stock of how we live and how we work, and we'll form sustainable communities. And I think that in doing that we will be creating a quality of life that will be better. One of the points the movie made was that we seem to think that if 1 thing makes us happy then 2 will make us twice as happy, and 4 will make us twice as happy again. However, there have been studies done and on average a person today is no more happier than one in 1950, even though the person today consumes 2/3's more than the one from 1950. Quality of life doesn't depend on having stuff, although people often seem to think it does. Anyway, it's an excellent movie. I'd like to order a few copies and give them to people to watch. The movie's website can be found here: or it can be watched online here: I'm going to add both links to my side bar.


Melissa said...

More stuff does make people happy, but the only reason this is true is that everyone around them has lots of stuff. We base our happiness on how we compare to those around us. People in the 50s were equally happy with less stuff because the people around them also had less stuff. There's no way around the problem unless everyone stops acquiring stuff all at the same time. There was an interesting article in the New Yorker about this last year, I'll try to find it and send it to you.

Paula said...

That might be true, but I am convinced that the only way to insure that the human race continues is by learning to live with less stuff. The only reason we can consume the way we do is because we have had this huge bonus of energy from Mother Nature which we are running through like there's no tomorrow, and so far there is not any replacement for that which does not use fossil fuels to get started. Do we want to switch to wind power? Well, we need to build those turbines now, while we have the energy to do it easily ands efficiently. The same goes for solar, or nuclear power, which I actually am not against. I am totally for trying to keep the lights on for as long as possible, while at the same time trying to lessen the use of fossil fuels so we actually have a planet that is habitable. Matt Simmons, who at one time was the Bush families energy investment advisor, and is now one of the biggest speakers about Peak Oil, says at the beginning of the movie that he sees the problem as being as important as thermonuclear war. He also says that people will say that in spite of all the worry we never had one, but that in his opinion the reason we never had one is because of all the worry.That makes a lot of sense to me. I believe really are facing a crisis of epic proportions, and we have to act now or else it will be too late. The really good thing in all this is that small actions from every one can make a difference. We might have to powerdown, but we can live a better life because of it. And as I've said before, it's easier to change because we want to, not because we're being told too.