There’s No Tomorrow: Making fun of today’s oil and energy crisis…

Animation films are hard to make all around. Even with digital technologies, the art and science of making entertaining and informative animations remains a challenge — and that’s why there are few good ones around.

I was thus happy to discover There’s No Tomorrow, a half-hour animated documentary about resource depletion, energy and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet.

Inspired by the pro-capitalist cartoons of the 1940s, the film is an introduction to the energy dilemmas facing the world today. It is made by Incubate Pictures.

Their intro text says:

“The average American today has available the energy equivalent of 150 slaves, working 24 hours a day. Materials that store this energy for work are called fuels. Some fuels contain more energy than others. This is called energy density.”

“Economic expansion has resulted in increases in atmospheric nitrous oxide and methane, ozone depletion, increases in great floods, damage to ocean ecosystems, including nitrogen runoff, loss of rainforest and woodland, increases in domesticated land, and species extinctions.”

“The global food supply relies heavily on fossil fuels. Before WW1, all agriculture was Organic. Following the invention of fossil fuel derived fertilisers and pesticides there were massive improvements in food production, allowing for increases in human population.The use of artificial fertilisers has fed far more people than would have been possible with organic agriculture alone.”

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Kicking the oil addiction: Miles to go…

On Saturday 17 March, over 10,000 people coming from all over the United States marched on the Pentagon in Washington DC protesting the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

They braved freezing temperatures – and lots of rain, sleet and snow. I could only admire the resolve of these people, some of whom I saw on my way to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for an afternoon of film screenings.

As The Washington Post reported on Sunday: “The march, part of a weekend of protests that included smaller demonstrations in other U.S. cities and abroad, comes as the Bush administration sends more troops to Iraq in an attempt to regain control of Baghdad and Congress considers measures to bring U.S. troops home.”

Meanwhile, the DC Environmental Film Festival was taking a closer look at one major reason why the US went to war in Iraq: oil.

Addicted to Oil is the title of a new documentary on Discovery Channel. This one-hour documentary, reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, explores his ideas for a “geo-green alternative” — a multi-layered strategy for tackling a host of problems, from the funding of terrorist supporters through America’s gasoline purchases, to strengthening US economy through innovative technology.

See interview extracts on Discovery website

Watch the first few minutes of Addicted to Oil:

I missed his panel discussion because of exceedingly cold and damp weather on Friday evening. But this is a topic that will continue to dominate the environmental and security agendas for years to come.

And it’s something that I myself have written about. When the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ were about to move into Iraq in March 2003, I wrote an op ed essay titled “Oil, Iraq & Water: Will The Media Get This Big Story?”. It was globally syndicated by Panos Features, and appeared in quite a number of newspapers, magazines and websites at the time.

The full essay is found online on, of all places, the Sri Lankan government’s official website! Here’s a short extract:

It’s not just the United States that is addicted to oil – we all are. Addicts tend to lose sight of the cost of their dependence, as we have. On 24 March 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on in Prince William Sound in Alaska and a fifth of its 1.2 million barrels of oil spilled into the sea, causing massive damage to over 3,800 km of shoreline. Investigations implicated its captain for grossly neglecting duty. Shortly afterwards, Greenpeace ran a major advertising campaign with the headline: ‘It wasn’t his driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours.’

Greenpeace continued: ‘It would be easy to blame the Valdez oil spill on one man. Or one company. Or even one industry. Too easy. Because the truth is, the spill was caused by a nation drunk on oil. And a government asleep at the wheel.’

A nation drunk on oil is waging a war that has more to do with oil than anything else. Our news media are behaving just like cheer-leaders.

Read the full essay here.