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Peak Oil the movie #2

Written by a former vice president of Goldman, Sachs & Co. in collaboration with the former head of the Goldman Sachs Oil and Gas department; The Deal is a wake-up call for America. Against the backdrop of a Middle East oil war against radical fundamentalists, The Deal tells the story of a proposed merger between an American and a Russian oil company, and the lengths and depths to which our country will find itself forced to descend in pursuit of the next “black crack fix” unless we dramatically change our ways.

What's more, it’s a film you can and should take your moderate and conservative friends to—an entertaining thriller with top-notch stars and a healthy dollop of sex and violence. Made on a shoestring budget rather than allow the major studios to water down its message (or focus group it to death), The Deal also paints an unusually realistic portrait of Wall Street, providing the first clear window on a world that has long fascinated many.

Bottom line: in addition to great entertainment, The Deal is a terrific jumping off point for serious discussions about the real crisis our country will face long before the first Social Security check bounces, and what to do about it.


After the Show

Seeing The Deal may not be nearly as important as what happens after the lights go up. Here are some questions you may want to raise with those you see it with, and some facts about our energy situation that can raise awareness or stimulate conversation. If these lead to passionate or more in-depth discussions (as we hope they do), here are some books and websites to recommend that your friends and/or family take a look at.


After the Show: Facts

* The Deal was based on extensive interviews with people heavily involved in global energy politics and industry

* One executive producer for The Deal is a very prominent oil and gas investor, and very Republican. However, he joined "Kerry haters for Kerry" in the last election, given how strongly he felt that the country could not afford another four years of the Bush administration.

* The other two executive producers are managing directors at two of the most prominent firms on Wall Street. One of them heads a global Mergers and Acquisitions department.

* The Deal is not a typical Hollywood exploitation flick-its budget was well under $10 million.

* A 2004 Pentagon study concluded that US dependence on foreign oil and global warming are greater threats to national security than terrorism (US Department of Defense)

* America imported 42% of its oil in 1980, 52% in 2000, and is projected to import 62% of its oil by 2020 under current policies (US Department of Energy)

* Americans are only 5% of world population, but consume 26% of the world's energy (American Almanac)

* Fossil fuels are being depleted at a rate that is 100,000 times faster than they are formed

* Oil production is already falling in 33 of the world's 48 largest oil producing countries, including 6 of the 11 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

* World demand for oil will likely exceed world supply of oil by 2010 (The Futurist, World Oil)

* 85% of known oil reserves are in the Persian Gulf, an area of explosive population growth and radical fundamentalism that is one of the least politically stable regions in the world. Several countries in the region either have or are believed to have weapons of mass destruction-likelihood of long-term stability is "poor." (many sources)

* Americans consume nine times as much electricity as the average person in the world does (Grist Magazine)

* No one renewable energy source can solve our energy problem, but the fact that wind or solar or hydroelectric each only work in certain circumstances is not an issue. It's the combination of solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources that's powerful

* Wind power is the fastest-growing energy source in the world. (Worldwatch Institute)

* The wind in North Dakota alone could supply 1/3 of America's electricity needs (The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair)

* The earth receives more energy from the sun in just one hour than the world uses in a whole year.

* The sun is our biggest nuclear power plant, without the radioactive waste.

* The wind power industry provides seven times more domestic jobs than the gas industry per mega-watt, solar technologies twice as many, and geothermal 11 times as many (Cal-PIRG)

* Energy conservation programs create three times as many jobs as those created in construction and operation of a conventional power plant with equal costs (NW Energy Coalition)

* The McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act would reduce fossil fuel emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2020, create more than 800,000 new jobs (Tellus Institute) and cost only $20 per household (Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

* Drilling in Alaska would produce no oil for 10 years and will ultimately produce only 6 months worth of US oil consumption in total (US Geological Survey). It represents only 0.3% of the world's oil supply, and will ultimately reduce our dependence on foreign oil by only 1-5%.

*Requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of their cars by just 3 MPG would save five times as much oil as the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will ever produce (Environmental Protection Agency)

* Automobile congestion in the United States alone accounts for $100 billion/year in wasted fuel, lost productivity, and rising health costs (WorldWatch Institute)

* Solar energy (photovoltaic) prices have declined on average 4% per annum over the past 15 years. Increases in conversion efficiencies and economies of scale are the underlying drivers.

* Solar heating typically saves 40-80% on energy costs vs. conventional heating over the lifetime of the system, paying for its initial investment in 4-8 years.

* President Bush uses solar power to supply heat to his home and has installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. His Crawford ranch also applies a variety of other energy and water conservation measures.

* Replacing just one incandescent light bulb with an energy-saving compact fluorescent bulb means 1,000 pounds less carbon dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere and $67 dollars is saved on energy costs over the bulb's lifetime. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Alliance to Save Energy)

* A decrease of only 1% in industrial energy use would save the equivalent of about 55 million barrels of oil per year, worth about $1 billion.

(Link to original)

Editorial Notes: The original website has reviews, interviews with the director and screenwriter, as well as questions to ponder, books for further information, and websites. The film opens June 17. A review by Robert Koehler in the May 25 Variety begins:
At a moment when gas prices are on the uptick, "The Deal" conveys an intriguing insider's view of the machinations of oil companies and the investment banks that serve them, until pulpy thriller plot distractions threaten to capsize the whole enterprise. Never entirely convincing yet always watchable, pic could tap into a vein of consumer anger at corporate arrogance along the lines of docu "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," especially in its June 17 opening platform in Democrat-leaning cities. Writer-producer Ruth Epstein's script packs an unusual amount of industrial data into the early sections, the result of a story developed and updated over a seven-year span and informed by Epstein's years on Wall Street.
-BA

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