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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film should be mandatory viewing in colleges & high schools
I've bought and read most of the major "peak oil" books that have been published the last few years, and so I didn't expect that much from this film when I ordered it using my Neflix subscription (now I'm buying a copy here on Amazon, for a mere $19.99).

Boy, was I ever surprised when I viewed it today! This documentary is so well done, that I really feel it...
Published on August 3, 2007 by David Marks

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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like Snorting Cocaine: It's Addictive
The most fascinating aspect to A CRUDE AWAKENING is that the film was made not by some left-wing conspiracy theorists with ties to Greenpeace or The World Wildlife Fund, but by two Swiss directors, one (Gelpke) with a background in anthropology, economics, war reporting, and science films, and the other (McCormack) who holds an honors degree in Environmental Policy and...
Published on July 5, 2007 by B. Merritt


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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film should be mandatory viewing in colleges & high schools, August 3, 2007
By 
David Marks "norcalidave" (Paradise, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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I've bought and read most of the major "peak oil" books that have been published the last few years, and so I didn't expect that much from this film when I ordered it using my Neflix subscription (now I'm buying a copy here on Amazon, for a mere $19.99).

Boy, was I ever surprised when I viewed it today! This documentary is so well done, that I really feel it should be required viewing in all high schools and colleges, and I wish everyone in this country could in fact see it.

Virtually all of the major energy experts, most of whom have written books on Peak Oil, are interviewed in this film, with a multitude of scores of video clips from the past and present, including an interview from the 1970's, with M. King Hubbert (the originator of Hubbert's Peak).

This film shows the power of video documentaries, when they are produced with style, creativity and true expertise. Just about every conceivable concept related to the world's energy use, past, present and future, along with great comments regarding the various alternative possibilities (solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen, etc.), are illustrated here.

Five stars without any doubt!
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars POWERFUL AND COMPELLING, May 25, 2007
Stark and sobering but refreshingly intelligent...

Oil is depicted as a "miracle elixir" -- an incredibly efficient energy source so cheap it has transformed human civilization, and makes it possible for us to sustain a global population of 6.5 billion people (and projected to reach ten billion this century).

Yet in the big picture the "oil age" will be remembered as a mere 200-300 year "blip" in human history - a brief orgy of cheap energy.

Much is made of discovering more reserves and expanded production, but these are being absorbed by huge new markets in Asia and Africa and so merely accelerate our dash toward depletion.

This is a limited commodity and when gone we are unlikely to have a good replacement.

Alternate energy sources lack oil's cheap abundance and efficiency. If we convert to nuclear on a global scale, in addition to hazards of waste disposal, we will shortly deplete the earth's uranium. Solar and wind power are simply inadequate to the task of replacing petroleum. Hydrogen and ethanol are expensive and require petroleum to produce. And so it goes...

There is surprisingly little political agenda here, as there seems no obvious solution to the crisis. It is suggested we might "soften" the shock of oil depletion by immediate serious (not token) efforts at conversion to alternate energies. This may help "ease" us out of the oil age -- but at present is too expensive for most people, and the political will is near non-existent on the scale needed.

It is predicted that the immediate future will see increasingly violent military struggles for control of diminishing reserves. The history of warfare is much older than oil, so oil does not "cause war" as the film states - but it seems likely wars will be fought over it (as in Iraq).

The next prediction is darker still -- a cataclysmic implosion of the world's six to ten billion population.

Think about it... Most people today are concentrated in vast urban areas which produce no food and little water. These must be shipped in 24/7 via truck, rail, and air on a massive scale. When that becomes economically unfeasible, a few local farmer's markets will not fix it. Starvation, disease, and local militias could run rampant until populations are reduced to economically sustainable local levels. The film does not state this is how the world will depopulate but it seems an obvious scenario.

The film fails to predict a seemingly obvious positive side to all this -- a new oil-free world should help with the global warming.

Bottom line:

The world as we know it is a brief unsustainable period of cheap energy. True or not? This film makes a thought-provoking case... well worth seeing.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important films of the decade., August 12, 2007
By 
Preston C. Enright (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This outstanding documentary has won many awards, and has been called "possibly the most important film of the decade." Although, there are several other documentaries of the past few years that should be required viewing.
As a film, "A Crude Awakening" is brilliantly crafted. The cinematography and the music are moving. While the message of the film is of utmost importance. For years, environmentalists have been advocating for a more sustainable energy system. In this film, they have their concerns and goals validated by Republican representatives like Roscoe Bartlett, several energy industry investors, and the former head of the CIA - James Woolsey. While "Earth First" and the CIA may seem like strange bedfellows, there appears to be a shared interest in avoiding an amplified global catastrophe that is pulling them in similar directions. I say "amplified" because in many ways, there is already a catastrophe related to oil going on - the megadeath in Iraq, the propping up of dictators, the oil production waste sites in Nigeria and Ecuador, and much else.
As disconcerting as this film is, there are hopeful developments. Documentaries like The Power Of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil and the recently released film "The 11th Hour" point towards the ways in which global society can transition from the oil economy. Journals like Plenty Magazine and Sustainable Industries Journal also help people to avoid being neutralized by despair, and also provide entrepreneurs and investors all sorts of leads as to where money can be made in the "next industrial revolution." Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
But, this transition will face a lot of opposition by extremely wealthy entrenched interests that have designed society to addict the world to their products. Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives
and Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back
These are perilous times; but if people discover their power as consumers, investors, citizen advocates, conversationalists, socially responsible entrepreneurs, organic farmers/gardeners and so forth, we can make our way towards a world that would be not only sustainable, but a lot more fun. This film is an excellent tool to begin that process.
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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like Snorting Cocaine: It's Addictive, July 5, 2007
By 
B. Merritt "filmreviewstew.com" (WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California United States) - See all my reviews
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The most fascinating aspect to A CRUDE AWAKENING is that the film was made not by some left-wing conspiracy theorists with ties to Greenpeace or The World Wildlife Fund, but by two Swiss directors, one (Gelpke) with a background in anthropology, economics, war reporting, and science films, and the other (McCormack) who holds an honors degree in Environmental Policy and Management. These two men know how to make a documentary that looks at both sides of our oil needs and industry while not knocking our addictive behavior towards gasoline. It does lack a few aspects in the end, but holds your attention enough to make the whole watchable.

The focus, as the title suggests, is on our crude oil dependency. We all know oil won't last forever, right? Right? Please tell me you know this. If not, you really need to watch this film. It looks at the boom and bust methodology used in early crude oil finds and how we naively thought (up until the 1970s) that oil/gas would last forever.

The story slashes across socio-economic ground, taking in opinions from specialists in the field to Senators and economists. All of them, without exception, realize that oil isn't going to last much longer. The need to find alternative fuels that are (and here's the key) affordable is on.

The great thing is that these men and women talk about how vital oil and natural gas is to our financial existence, simply because it is so cheap. You just can't find energy this affordable. Fuel cell technology, hydrogen fuels, solar, and many other alternatives are discussed but are exceptionally expensive to produce and market to the general population. No doubt we have a lot of worries coming our way as carbon-based fuels become more and more scarce.

The only lacking aspect in this documentary was that there's very little time given over to these alternative energy methods, and no experts on said same. All of the information comes from experts in the gas industry or those who monitor it. To truly round-out the program I would've liked to have seen specialists in alternative car manufacturing and other items that are undoubtedly headed our way.

Still, this is an insightful documentary to get your hands on. And one to show your kids to get them on-the-ball about what they can do to help decrease our oil addiction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked End of Suburbia, you'll like this, August 31, 2007
By 
Harrison Bergeron (Heartland, Indiana) - See all my reviews
These Peak Oil documentaries aren't for everyone. Peak Oil means that half the world's conventional oil has been used and only half is left. The fight for the remaining oil will be fierce and that oil will become very expensive.

The concept that our present way of life may be seriously in jeapardy is too much for many to grasp or accept. Crude Awakening is very well done as is End of Suburbia. The message of both documentaries is essentially the same -- the cheap oil is gone and nothing is going to replace it that will allow our present level or life style to go on. There will be a lot less driving around in the future, for instance. End of Suburbia focuses on North America, US and Canada, Crude Awakenings, a german production I believe, focuses on the whole industrial world. Both DVDs start with how we got into this mess back when oil was first discovered.

The US uses nearly 21 million barrels of oil per day. That volume is equal to the flow of water over the Niagara Falls in 19 minutes. Or that's one square mile, four feet deep. If that square mile were corn, it would produce only 8000 barrels of ethanol in a year. Presently the world uses one cubic mile of crude oil per year. The Sears Tower is only 1/4 mile tall. Estimates are there are only 30-some cubic miles of conventional oil left. Nothing will replace oil in terms of low cost, concentrated, abundant energy. When it's gone's it's gone.

And if the world doesn't get it's act together, serious economic collapse is highly possible -- that is the message of Crude Awakenings and End of Suburbia.

Both Crude Awakenings and End of Suburbia are worthy. For me, there's enough differences in each one that I didn't regret purchasing both. However, if your budget is limited, you only need one of the two. Watch it. Show it to your friends.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling arguements to consider, June 12, 2008
By 
Today is June 12, 2008, and with oil is above $130 per barrel, we have an ideal environment to take in such a documentary as this. The scenario reminds me of a book called, "What To Do When Oil Is $200 A Barrel." Perhaps by the time you read this, it will be over $200 a barrel.

For this genre, this is a well-produced documentary that combines visual interest with good academic but energizing commentary. It plays out like a story: from the early discoveries of oil, the oil bonanza in the USA to the peaks in Venezuela, Russian states and Saudi Arabia.

As one watches how peak discovery USA or other early regions yielded to peak production then leading to ultimate decline, you quickly see the model used for calculating "peak oil" globally which many experts say is anywhere between 2003 and 2030 (many predicting around the next five years). The famous, so-called Hubbert's Peak is described by the man himself.

US production started around the 30's but peaked in 70's and has dwindled to a fraction of peak now. That's apparently what we see now in the giant of giant fields that produce a lion's share - some being pumpued with seawater to maximize output (something normally done when a field is peaking down). ALL these will eventually follow the model peaking scenario that was seen in USA, Baku and other areas. North Sea is also peaking apparently if you follow news in EU.

Arguements for being at a peak include the strong and sustained rise in demand, the apparent signs of peaking of the giant fields today and the fact that no fields this big have been discovered in a while (given oil companies have mapped much of the planet). This doc makes the strong point that huge discoveries are needed just to keep up with current demand - let alone feed growth - since all current fields will eventually decline.

But with price of oil so high, it will and is opening up discovery previously not pursued until crude hit a magic threshold price. The doc could have presented such supply-side possibiities more clearly to give more balance. But, this is a compelling documentary that will stimulate your own analysis. If nothing else, you will probably see just how oil permeates so much of our lives in the products we buy and way we live. PS: Some of the best writers on this topic in my opinion are economists who have little direct bias or professional stake in any particular outcome ("A Thousand Barrels a Second" is a quite good analysis of the situation).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of the era of cheap abundant energy is upon us, October 21, 2007
By 
Fresma (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This documentary should be one of the most important of this past year; unfortunately it has not received the same level of publicity as "An Inconvenient Truth".

Oil industry analysts and geologists interviewed for the documentary convincingly argue that it's becoming more and more difficult to increase oil production to meet demand--not because oil producers want to keep prices high, but because major oil fields are becoming depleted and no new major, comparable oil field discoveries have been made in decades. Hearing this from the horse's mouth (and not from environmental activists or green energy advocates) does make the case for the urgency of this problem.

This truly is the major challenge of our generation. What many people do not realize is that our lives depend on oil not only for energy. Look around you and realize that all the plastic is made from oil. The food we eat depends on oil for fertilizers, pesticides, and of course for the fuel to drive tractors, etc. In fact the "green revolution" that made it possible to feed billions more on the same (or comparable) arable surface as in the 50's depends on the availability of cheap oil. There is still no energy source as cheap or as compact as oil (in terms of energy per gallon--for instance it takes 50% more ethanol than gasoline, by volume, to run a car).

What all this means for the future depends on the actions each of us will take as the production of oil starts to level off then decrease. This DVD should be on the desk of every congressperson and senator.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best environmental/political/social movies ever made, May 9, 2008
By 
Me (American overseas) - See all my reviews
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I work on a number of environmental projects and I have purchased at least 15 copies of this movie already to give to corporate decision makers and other executives. It is the most concise, balanced and articulate overview I have found on the Peak Oil issue. I can't expand much on the other reviews, except to say that this should be mandatory viewing for high school students...and the majority of adults in American who aren't even familiar with the term 'peak oil' yet. If everyone in the US could spare a couple of hours to watch this movie, I'm certain that it would take our national energy conversation to a whole new level.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent and Excellent, May 25, 2010
Produced in 2006, "A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash," has been out on DVD since 2007, but, I must admit, I hadn't even known about it till this week. I had vaguely been aware of, and worried about, Peak Oil for several years, especially after reading a National Geographic article on it and then occasional (but only occasional) brief mentions elsewhere in the mainstream news. But this riveting documentary really brought home the urgency of the situation. I watched it three times, and then read the many (fine) reviews here for opinions, background information, and possible counterarguments - of which there were none.

The film's subtitle, "The Oil Crash," is very fitting. By contrast, the more familiar term "Peak Oil" seems misleading and innocuous, merely indicating that half of the world's oil is now gone or soon will be. As the film shows, our real problem is far worse than that, because oil will therefore get much more expensive than ever before, indeed beyond the price range of many people and even whole societies. Ironically, we'll also use up that second, increasingly expensive half of the supply much more rapidly than we did the first half, precisely because of the massive industrialization and population explosion which that first half of the supply allowed us. Those two problems together will surely lead to widespread oil riots and oil wars, and will seriously damage the world's economy. Hence "the Oil Crash." With more foresight, all of this could have been prevented. But we are now rapidly running out of time to transition smoothly to alternative energy sources, and only have about a ten-year window left.

The first industrial use of oil occurred in the 1850s, over 150 years ago. But the production and near-exhaustion of the second half of the oil supply will take far fewer than 150 years - perhaps merely 20 to 30 years. An increasingly high rate of use, and waste, by the USA, and suddenly now also by China and India with their billions of people, are rapidly depleting the supply.

As more than one expert in the film bitterly notes, oil has long been the cheapest liquid you could buy, costing less than a bottle of water. What a terrible waste of a precious non-renewable resource. But its lowly status won't last more than a few more years. The Cheap Oil Era will soon be over, and that of Scarce and Expensive Oil will begin.

The film also stresses that alternative energy sources - solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, hydrogen, etc. - simply cannot compare with oil as a marvelously efficient, convenient, concentrated energy source. And they will all take several decades to fully develop anyway. (Still, we must try, and try with all speed, also in order to reduce that "other" drawback of oil use - global warming.)

Highlights of this documentary include fascinating 1970s footage of Prof. Hubbert, the "peak oil" doomsday prophet of the 1950s, eloquently explaining the sad facts of our oil addiction and limited world supply.

David Goodstein, professor of physics, offers many insightful comments, noting, for example, that the peak period for discovery of U.S. oil was way back in the 1930s, and that peak production of those discoveries occurred about 1970, exactly as Hubbert had predicted in the 50s.

Colin Campbell, a British oil geologist and consultant to Exxon and other companies, notes a terrible irony to the whole production process: "The [faster] you exploit oil and gas, the sooner it's gone." He then notes how that lesson has struck home: "The British government now admits that it becomes a net [oil] importer by next year [2006]... and that [North Sea oil] is gone by 2020 ... a huge change." He also despairs of finding any major new reserves: "We already have fantastic technology to find oil...." Yet not much has been found in decades.

Two other grim "stars" of the film are rather unexpected but very welcome ones: U.S. Senator Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, a Republican, and Matt Simmons, an energy investment banker and former advisor to the first President Bush, also Republican. These two conservative voices are the most convincing of all. Listening to them, you know the film isn't slanted leftward. Both men are experts (Bartlett is also a scientist) and both are pessimistic about the world's oil situation and our collective ability to respond to the looming crisis/crash.

Senator Bartlett warns, "We [the U.S.] use 25% of the world's oil, we're only one person in 22 [= about 5% of the world's population], we have only 2% of the [world's] known reserves of oil." Again, "Not one in 50, not one in 100 of the people in our country have any inkling of the potential problem that we're facing.... There will be very serious economic consequences." Again, "We [need] to have a very vigorous [energy] conservation program." Again, "[The U.S.] imports two-thirds of the [oil] we use - that has to affect your foreign policy." And again, "It's very unlikely that, once we've run down the other side of Hubbert's Peak, we're going to be able to maintain the kind of lifestyles that we now maintain.... It will be impossible." And finally, "In the absence of fossil fuels, how many people can the world support? Many people believe maybe a billion and a half [to] two billion people."

The film ends on that question of world population, with other experts agreeing that the population of a post-oil or scarce-oil world will probably have to go down to 1-2 billion. Unfortunately, in the four years since this 2006 film was made, world population has gone up from about 6.5 billion to about 6.8 billion, and is on track to reach 8 billion by 2025 - practically tomorrow. If the Scarce & Expensive Oil Era arrives already this decade, with the price of oil going much higher, a leveling off of world population, and even a major reduction in it, may occur much sooner, and much more painfully, than it otherwise would.

Personally, I'd vote today to double the price of gas in the USA in order to keep gas-guzzling cars off the streets and roads for all but important purposes. We also need to expand our rail system greatly, and produce lightweight solar-powered cars (golf cart style) by the millions for purely city driving, especially in the sunny South. City speed limits could easily be lowered to 20 mph for their better safety. And who needs those 4,000 pound elephants that so many people drive today? As for Hummers, I sincerely believe they should be outlawed. That would be an important symbolic step. Of course, we also need to "buy local" and do a hundred other things to reduce our use and waste of oil, for the sake of future generations.

Please order this DVD for your local library, and talk to friends and even strangers about it. Call and write your representatives in Congress and urge them to take action. Thanks!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whistle of an Oncoming Train, November 24, 2007
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Everyone has a plan whether they are Corporate Executive Officers looking to rake in profits or Muslim Fundamentalists who believe that those same profits will be used to buy guns to be pointed their way. Oil is becoming scarce as demand increases. One can pretend that it isn't real for awhile. Avoidance may elect politicians, but will also cause the effects of shortage to magnify so that someday an avalanche of consequences will hit with much greater feeling. Total available stupidity toward formulating a response is directly proportional to the amount of wealth available for squandering, and Civilization has been rather prosperous of late. So far, the consequences have been accumulating in the form of debt to be paid for by children yet to be born. A day will come when the bill for those debts can no longer be kicked down the road.

You can always count on paying the most when you are least aware of the problem. It falls to hapless innocent bystanders to pick up the pieces and put Humpty back together again. There is no guarantee that Humpty can ever be restored. As of this moment Humpty is strapped to the railroad tracks as the whistle of an oncoming train is heard by a confused set of onlookers.

A Crude Awakening is an introduction designed to make one aware. Hubbert's Peak is explained, as well as the OPEC numbers that do not add up, the technology that has sat waiting for development, while the insatiable demand for oil becomes uncaged.

I hear the whistle blowing. Humpty can't wait very long.
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