We know that we must reduce the drilling and use of oil, yet here in The Oil Machine, we are presented with a difficult watch of seeing just how deeply rooted our society is in fossil fuels. Emma Davie’s documentary takes us on an urgent journey that only speeds up our desperate need to make things happen now.
Oil has been an invisible machine at the core of our economy and society. It now faces an uncertain future as activists and investors demand change. Is this the end of oil? We have five to ten years to control our oil addiction, and yet the licensing of new oil fields such as the Cambo oil field off Shetland is seen to directly contradict the Government’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement and hosting of COP26.
The Oil Machine is not afraid to get to the point. Within 100 years, a mere blip in the history of the time of this planet, humanity has been able to do something quite unfathomable, ultimately impact not only generations to come but centuries and perhaps even millennia. An utterly harrowing thought and one that causes you to sit up a little straighter, and that is only the beginning of this excellent documentary from Emma Davie.
As our talking heads of activists, academics and economists and even pension fund managers (yes, pension fund managers) dive into how the UK found its love for oil, but also how deeply embedded it is into the fabric of the UK economy. Not only does the production of oil help employ people around the coasts of Scotland and further inland. But, it has a further hold upon every single one of us. How? Well, with anyone’s savings or pension funds, our futures are being used to fund the oil companies on the stock exchange. So, in many cases, we are accidentally undermining ourselves and our children’s future.
What follows is another gut punch after another, politicians promising to reduce oil drilling at UN counsels only to be halted by their own team once they get home purely because of how much money we as a nation earn from the tax of that drilled oil once sold. This information is all there for us to discover, yet it has been conveniently swept to the side by all in power, hoping that enough people do not look.
Best and worst of all, the oil and gas companies are our solution; they know that they are not going to make enough profits in a matter of years, so they have to adapt. So as they are trying to think of solutions, but as their profits are still obscene, they are moving just far too slowly and issuing outlines that “it takes time”.So they are greenwashing us and saying what they want to do and their future, but their actual efforts are not enough, and they know it.
The Oil Machine shows how environmentally conscious our young people are, perhaps because there have been many climate documentaries and films. Still, the use of children to showcase these moments feels overused at this point. Yes, that is the horrible cynic in me, but using children to help hammer that point home just sometimes feels unnecessary. When a film hits all of its points with its experts, it seems like a cake-and-eat case. However, their inclusion will be welcome for those who have not seen such documentaries.
One point made that is not made as much, though, is the climate refugee case; you really don’t think about it as much, and when it is mentioned here in its direct manner, you stop and think even more than before. This is a piece that just never stops hitting you with moments like this and will have you checking several things by the time the credits roll. Is it where your investments and pension funds are going to, where you live to be inhabitable in 50 years if we do not change where we are going as a species – an urgent watch.
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