DVD picks: Crude Awakening and Jesus Camp

Crude Awakening: the Oil Crash
Producers: Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack
Production company: Mongrel Media
90 minutes

Are believers in peak oil a lunatic fringe? Not according to Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s compelling and disturbing Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, which provides further evidence that we are depleting the world’s oil supplies at an unsustainable rate.

According to energy experts and scientists interviewed, the world’s major oil fields are in decline. Matt Simmons, an energy advisor to George W. Bush, said supply is diminishing while world demand is skyrocketing. Many developing countries such as India and China, where car ownership is surging, want to emulate U.S. consumption patterns. Collin Campbell, a geologist for Exxon, Mobil, Shell and others, said there are no new large oil fields to be discovered to make up for declining supplies. Cutting edge technology has speeded up depletion, acting like “a giant straw sucking up the last sources of easy oil,” Simmons said.

Simmons used the U.S. as a prime example of what is occurring throughout the world. “No one thought we would ever peak,” he observed. For a century the U.S. was the world’s major producer of oil. Production reached 10.2 million barrels in July 1970 and then dropped despite a wave of exploration during which four-and-a-half times more wells were drilled. Now the U.S. imports two-thirds of its supplies.

These experts warn that the era of cheap oil is coming to an end and there will be disastrous consequences if governments do not take action. As the “bloodstream of the world economy,” oil has fueled population and economic growth over the last 150 years. For instance, world population has grown to 6 billion because of large increases in food production using oil-based fertilizers. Campbell proposes that every country cut oil use by a small percentage every year to reflect the diminishing supply of oil, something we need to be doing anyway to halt global warming.

Crude Awakening explores what new sources of energy can replace oil. Wind-generated electricity can never be a major source because of wind’s intermittent nature. Scientists say solar power holds the most promise. But problems in harnessing and harvesting solar power have yet to be solved. For instance, to generate the amount of energy the U.S. uses daily, a territory half the size of California would need to be covered with solar panels.

The Jesus Camp
Producers: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady.
Production company: Magnolia
84 minutes

This dark, well-made documentary will send shivers up your spine. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s The Jesus Camp reveals the right-wing Christian fundamentalist movement’s efforts to indoctrinate children as part of its overall campaign to impose a Christian theocracy on the U.S.

Pastor Becky Fisher explains how the evangelical movement is focussing on children to further its agenda. At the “Kids on Fire” summer bible camp, Fisher tells boys and girls that they must answer for their sins and become foot soldiers in God’s army that is fighting “to take back America for Christ.” She tells them that satanic forces are trying to undermine the U.S. and that Christians must wage a war against the devil. “This is war,” she shouts, as frightened children burst into tears.

In another scene, church leaders place a paper cutout of George W. Bush on the auditorium stage, saying he has done more to advance God’s agenda than any other U.S. president. Pastor Becky then urges the children to pray for Bush. Children are taught that abortionists are killing unborn children and that global warming is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

The Jesus Camp also features an interview with Mike Papantonio, a Christian talk show host who thinks the right-wing direction in which evangelists are taking the church is dangerous.

This film is a must-see for those wanting to understand the right-wing Christian fundamentalist movement.