After the Peak is a mock-TV news program. It’s presented as if live from a local television station in North Carolina, with anchors in the studio reporting and talking to reporters in the field. And, yes, there’s even the obligatory sports guy.
The time is “one year from today”. Worldwide oil production has peaked and is declining. It’s still early in the Peak Oil saga with gasoline usually available, but prices are going up. Oil is now $195 a barrel and prices at the pump average $10.29 a gallon, seriously affecting people’s lives, their businesses and their commutes.
The movie very clearly brings home the effect of the early stages of Peak Oil. This is not a film of starvation, the end of air travel, or the collapse of world trade and civil order. In other words, this is not a pictorial version of scenarios such as those imagined by people such as James Howard Kunstler in his new novel “World Made By Hand”. But it is a picture of every day life for every day citizens as they try to deal with the cost of the fossil fuel on which their lives and livelihoods depend.
Most of the focus is on the cost of transportation, but other resulting problems become apparent. Shoppers start to discover food shortages in the local stores, homes distant from town are declining in value, and some farmers are shutting down. Local government and school districts are struggling with increasing fuel costs. The sheriff’s office is conducting fewer patrols; the school district has cut back on school bus service and eliminated high school sports.
After the Peak uses interviews to make its point, and its interviewees include a college professor, motorists at a local gas station and the station’s owner (who has hired an armed guard), and local officials and business owners.
Instead of breaking to commercials between news reports, the film cleverly breaks to well presented information on oil production statistics. The information is very clear and very appropriate.
As producer/writer Jim McQuaid has said, After the Peak is not aimed at the Peak Oil-aware audience, but rather at those who have little or no awareness of oil depletion at all. It’s intended to show a likely future through the eyes of a medium that most people are very familiar with—the evening news.
This is a film that should stimulate discussions in households and gatherings around the country. Show it to some friends and neighbors who know nothing about Peak Oil and see what their reaction is. And then be prepared for some serious, very concerned, questions. If they have none, we may be in even more trouble than many of us think.
Copyright © 2008 Mick Winter