My friends know I don’t read scary books or go to scary movies. Unless they are documentaries.
So tonight I went to see Chris Smith’s Collapse, which is really an extended interview with author and social analyst Michael Ruppert; his 2009 book Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World seems to present similar content – but I wouldn’t trade his compelling presence for the ease of a book. Roger Ebert’s review, which made me eager to see the film, does a good job of summing up the content and the tone. He rates it ★ ★ ★ ★.
Michael Ruppert draws together many facts and strands of thought. Oil production is peaking, the new oil coming on board is harder to get and less plentiful than the oil that is running out, and demand in India and China is sky-rocketing. Oil is involved in everything we say and do: not only fuel, but paint, tires, food (fertilizer, irrigation, processing, transport). The economic and banking system assumes constant growth, which has increased in magnitude and pace over the last 100 years due to the impact of fossil fuel especially oil. When oil costs more than people can pay, the system will break down.
While I found the entire film intriguing – I’m leaving out all the twists and turns and Dick Cheney and the CIA and drugs – one comparison provides an interesting example of Ruppert’s thinking and use of data. He asked, seemingly rhetorically, what happens when the oil runs out. Then, surprisingly, he had an answer. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it stopped exporting subsidized oil. The two nations affected most dramatically – because they had no oil and no source of oil – were North Korea and Cuba. Ruppert contrasts the response: in North Korea, a rigid hierarchical dictatorship oversaw massive suffering, reduction in life style, and starvation. In Cuba, people were urged to start growing food everywhere: in green space in cities, on rooftops – and the natural, non-oil based food has improved their health and avoided starvation.
In spite of the scary picture he paints, Ruppert is a joyous man – he talks about inducing smiles in other people as a pastime – who is committed to painting this picture because he DOES see the way out: through learning to live simply, locally, and with a community.
I’m surprised that this film made it to Duluth before Minneapolis, Denver or San Francisco. If you have a chance to see it – the web site says that some movies-on-demand cable systems have it to – I encourage you to go.
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- Collapse Review (screenrant.com)
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- Movie Review | ‘Collapse’: Single Focus: An Outsider With Doomsday Vision (movies.nytimes.com)