‘Avatar’ unfolds in the Amazon: Find out the Real Price of Oil!

This is no Avatar: It's Real!
A few days ago, reviewing the blockbuster movie Avatar, I wrote: “Film critics and social commentators around the world have noticed the many layers of allegory in the film. Interestingly, depending on where you come from, the movie’s underlying ‘message’ can be different: anti-war, pro-environment, anti-Big Oil, anti-mining, pro-indigenous people, and finally, anti-colonial or anti-American. Or All of the Above…”

Indeed, an Avatar-like struggle is unfolding in the Amazon forest right now. The online campaigning group Avaaz have called it a ‘Chernobyl in the Amazon’. According to them: “Oil giant Chevron is facing defeat in a lawsuit by the people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, seeking redress for its dumping billions of gallons of poisonous waste in the rainforest.”

From 1964 to 1990, Avaaz claims, Chevron-owned Texaco deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste from their oil fields in Ecuador’s Amazon — then pulled out without properly cleaning up the pollution they caused.

In their call to action, they go on to say: “But the oil multinational has launched a last-ditch, dirty lobbying effort to derail the people’s case for holding polluters to account. Chevron’s new chief executive John Watson knows his brand is under fire – let’s turn up the global heat.”

Avaaz have an online petition urging Chevron to clean up their toxic legacy, which is to be delivered directly to the company´s headquarters, their shareholders and the US media. I have just signed it.

Others have been highlighting this real life struggle for many months. Chief among them is the documentary CRUDE: The Real Price of Oil, made by Joe Berlinger.

The award-winning film, which had its World Premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the epic battle to hold oil giant Chevron (formerly Texaco) accountable for its systematic contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon – an environmental tragedy that experts call “the Rainforest Chernobyl.”

Here’s the official blurb: Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion Amazon Chernobyl case, CRUDE is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking as it examines a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.

Watch the official trailer of Crude: The Real Price of Oil

According to Amazon Watch website: “With key support from Amazon Watch and our Clean Up Ecuador campaign, people are coming together to promote (and see) this incredible film, and then provide ways for viewers to support the struggle highlighted so powerfully by the film.”

They go on to say: “A victory for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs in the lawsuit will send shock waves through corporate boardrooms around the world, invigorating communities fighting against injustice by oil companies. The success of our campaign can change how the oil industry operates by sending a clear signal that they will be held financially liable for their abuses.”

While Avatar‘s story unfolds in imaginary planet Pandora — conjured up by James Cameron’s imagination and created, to a large part, with astonishing special effects, the story of Crude is every bit real and right here on Earth. If one tenth of those who go to see Avatar end up also watching Crude, that should build up much awareness on the equally brutal and reckless conduct of Big Oil companies.

Civilisation's ultimate addiction?

Others have been making the same point. One of them is Erik Assadourian, a Senior Researcher at Worldwatch Institute, whom I met at the Greenaccord Forum in Viterbo, Italy, in November 2009.

He recently blogged: “The Ecuadorians aren’t 10-feet tall or blue, and cannot literally connect with the spirit of the Earth (Pachamama as Ecuadorians call this or Eywa as the Na’vi call the spirit that stems from their planet’s life) but they are as utterly dependent—both culturally and physically—on the forest ecosystem in which they live and are just as exploited by those that see the forest as only being valuable as a container for the resources stored beneath it.”

Erik continues: “Both movies were fantastic reminders of human short-sightedness, one as an epic myth in which one of the invading warriors awakens to his power, becomes champion of the exploited tribe and saves the planet from the oppressors; the other as a less exciting but highly detailed chronicle of the reality of modern battles—organizers, lawyers, and celebrities today have become the warriors, shamans, and chieftains of earlier times.”

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

3 thoughts on “‘Avatar’ unfolds in the Amazon: Find out the Real Price of Oil!”

  1. I hate Big Oil too. But why do they stay in business and why are they so damn profitable? Because all of us are hooked on what they extract (at a terrible price) and sell. As long as there is a big demand for oil, Big Oil cos will continue to dig and sell it. We are complicit.

  2. Isn’t there a law somewhere on the books that says that it is illegal for a company to have a monopoly on a product which would include oil which all of the vehicles in the world run off of? Since all of the vehicles in America run off of gasoline which is a derivative of oil then the conglomerate of Big Oil is actually running a monopoly.

    Here are few good links:


    [b]Single Firm Conduct: Monopolization Defined[/b]

    [i]The antitrust laws prohibit conduct by a single firm that unreasonably restrains competition by creating or maintaining monopoly power. Most Section 2 claims involve the conduct of a firm with a leading market position, although Section 2 of the Sherman Act also bans attempts to monopolize and conspiracies to monopolize. As a first step, courts ask if the firm has “monopoly power” in any market. This requires in-depth study of the products sold by the leading firm, and any alternative products consumers may turn to if the firm attempted to raise prices. Then courts ask if that leading position was gained or maintained through improper conduct—that is, something other than merely having a better product, superior management or historic accident. Here courts evaluate the anticompetitive effects of the conduct and its procompetitive justifications[/i]

    [quote]although Section 2 of the Sherman Act also bans attempts to monopolize and conspiracies to monopolize.[/quote]

    Here is a very good example of Big Oil breaking the Anti-Trust Act. A few days ago my ATM card was stolen from my locked vehicle where the ATM card was in my wallet which was in the center storage consel. This is twice within a year that my ATM card has come up missing. The first time when I used it at another bank where do to my error in not knowing that after 30 seconds the machine would take my card. I went to my bank and asked them to see about having it returned. My bank called the other bank and it just so happened at that very instant that my bank called the other bank the other bank had just cut up all of the cards seized in their machine. Now we know that ATM,debit and credit cards are all made of plastic which is an oil based product. I had to pay ten dollars to get a new card as well as spending the gas another product of oil to get to my bank and then back home. This last time however I did not have to pay the ten dollars to get a new card but spent a 1/4 tank of gas getting to my bank to have it replaced. So the conspiracy with the first incident lies within the fact that there was not any signage, labeling and or other written or audio form of communication stating that after thirty seconds the machine would take my card. The bank wants people who do not normally use their bank to be caught off guard and possibly lose their ATM card so that they have to travel to their bank which costs money to put gas into the vehicle to get from point A to point B with the possiblity of also having to pay to get a new card. The second conspiracy involves the willful entry into my vehicle where the criminal act of the theft of my card took place just so that I would have to spend more money in gas to travel to my bank to obtain a new card which this time I did not have to pay for. The other part of the conspiracy lies within the money itself. We all know that money in the form of paper is made from wood palp that men have to cut trees down to refine the tree into the finished product called money. The process of harvesting the trees also involves many tools and vehicles that are dependant upon gas to complete the task. So in order for Big Oil to monopolize on every single point that it can it would have to force people to steal other peoples items that are replaceable such as an ATM card so that they would have to spend more money in gas to get to the destination. Stealing money does not put more money back into Bi Oil’s pocket as once the money is stolen it cannot be replaced by going to the bank and saying “I had $100.00 stolen and need it replaced.” See the pattern of conspiracy that Big Oil is hiding in to control the market to monopolize the economy?

    I have not been able to find any law stating that a monopoly on natural resources violates any law but one area that is violated under the anti-trust law is the fact that the method of use of the natural resource or gas is monopolized upon by the automobile industry. Since all factory produced automobile that are massed produced operate off of gasoline and there is not yet one factory that mass produces any other form of vehicle that operates off of an alternative fuel source such as the hybrid fuel cell, ethanol etc. then Big Oil can be said to be using conspiratorial fixtures to not allow the mass production of any other automobile that operates off of gasoline.

    A Section 2 violation has 2 elements:[17]

    (1) the possession of monopoly power in the relevant market and

    [b](2) the willful acquisition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident.

    How Big Oil can be labeled as a monopoly in this instance is that the industry of using non-fossilized fuels such as bio-fuels, Hybrid-Fuel Celled vehicles, Solar Powered Electrical vehicles and other non-fossilized fuel’s would create a superior product in so much that the damage to the environment would be considerably less as HFC’s and SPE’s do not emit harmful carbon monoxide into the atmosphere that contributes to the Greenhouse effect on Earth. NFFV (Non-Fossilized Fueled Vehicles) would have a monopoly on smaller personal vehicles that were meant to transport people within the carrying capacity of the vehicle from point A to point B but Big Oil would still be able to maintain a profit due the necessity of having to use larger vehicles to transport heavy cargo from point A to point B which due to the energy created by the NFFV engine would not be able to maintain an effective economy which would effect the interstate economy. The fossil fueled vehicle would be able to fill this role due to the gasoline used which creates a larger output of energy versus the NFFV.

    The other conspiracy involved is the actual money itself. Not only does paper money drive the oil business more so than plastic ATM cards due to money wearing out faster than a plastic card but also that religion is imprinted upon the paper money. So not only does Big Oil have a monopoly over the automotive industry it also forces people to believe in a religion that they may or may not believe due to the fact that when gasoline is purchased with cash that has “In God We Trust” written on it to travel to their bank to replace a stolen ATM card or other plastic device used to store a digital amount of currency they are forced to view a term that violates the freedom of choice to either believe or not believe as well as freedom of religion which is from religion.

    With that being said who wants to hire a lawer to write a document up based on what I have written so that the future of America can begin with the new horizon of implementing that all personally owned vehicles of a non-commercial status shall be one of the following types of NFFV which will include Hybrid Fuel Cells, Bio-Fuel and Solar Powered Electrical Engines?

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