Thursday, January 10, 2013

"GasHole" examines the history of oil production, resistance to alternative

GasHole” (spelled as one word) is a 2010 documentary, directed by   Scott Roberts and  Jeremy Wagener, tracing the history of oil production and the apparent attempts by the oil industry to sabotage alternative fuels.

A central idea in the movie is the Hubbert Peak Oil Theory (wiki article and admire the math ) which maintains that domestic oil production in the United States might have peaked around 1970 (just when I started working) and for the whole planet, around 2000-2010. 
But interest in alternative fuels started early, after WWII, in the late 1940s, with ideas like the water injected carburetor   There was a patent bought  near Modesto CA  Shell.  A heavy car called the Buick Roadmaster in 1947 was said to get tremendous mileage.  But the oil companies quashed the research or hid it.  There was also a 1947 Studebaker supposedly getting 150 miles per gallomn. A book describing the engine went out of print and now is  not even in the Library of Congress (and all books are there, including mine, as I learned in 1997).  The film gives accounts of a couple of researchers found murdered in the Mojave Desert.
Americans next got concerned about improving gas mileage after the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, with the gas lines and even-odd rationing of early 1974, leading politicians to promise energy independence.  Speeches by Nixon (November 1973, just as Watergate heated up), Ford, and Carter on the subject are excerpted.  (I remember watching the Nixon speech in a motel while on a work trip with Univac.) 

But the public would lose interest after the shortages passed (there would be another brief crisis in 1979 because of Iran). 

The film punctuates itself with some engineering demonstrations on high mileage could work, but older designs, before the electric car.  But the hydrogen car is shown at the end.

The whole concept of peak oil is somewhat challenged by a sudden domestic energy book in the US due to Marcellus Shale, leading to enormous natural gas production (the Pickens Plan) and new ways to make oil. The US may be a net oil exporter by 2030.  The new challenge is to produce and use the fuel without adding to carbon emissions and climate change.  This idea is already explored by the recent drama “Promise Land” (review here, Jan. 2, 2013).

The official site for the (“GasHole”) film (Cinema Libre) is here.

This film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99 or from Netflix instant replay.

The film should be compared to the CNN TV documentary “We Were Warned” ("Films on major challenges to freedom"  blog, June 2, 2007).
Other films on this blog are “Fuel” (Sept. 19, 2009), and “Crude: The Real Price of Oil” (Oct. 25, 2009), a short “Driving Greener” (June 24, 2008).  Also, there is “A Crude Awakening” (2007, Telepool, directed by Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack), a film making dire, if outdated predictions, on my “doaskdotell” site (old review). 

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