Katelyn Kelly

Annotation #1, Fossil Fuels


Word Count: 1274

Title: Blind Spot

Director: Adolfo Doring

Release Year: 2008
What is the central argument or narrative of the film?
The central argument of this film is that humans, specifically Americans, have grown dependent on fossil fuels, essentially oil, and have seemingly ignored the fact that these fossil fuels are a source that is being depleted and cannot be sustained as an energy source forever.
How is the argument or narrative made and sustained? How much scientific information is provided, for example? Does the film have emotional appeal?
The argument is made by various interviews with activists and professors from the fields of economy and sustainability. The film draws on emotions by repeatedly driving home the fact that we as Americans rely on fossil fuel not only for cars, but also in production, various materials, and in some cases heating homes and providing electricity. The film also draws on the impending fact that eventually the Earth is going to be depleted of resources, since oil isn’t something we can grow, obviously. However, the film draws on emotions by twisting this fact and making it seem like we going to run out of resources within the next decade or so. It further harps on this falsely created fear by offering no insight on alternative energy and solutions, rather it continuously returns to the idea of depletion with no return; the idea that this is a problem that is spiraling out of control and cannot be harnessed. Therefore the film lies on selective scientific information from mainly economists that believe in the worst outcome possible in order to draw on the emotion of fear and uncertainty.
What sustainability problems does the film draw out? Political? Legal? Economic? Technological? Media and Informational? Organizational? Educational? Behavioral? Cultural? Ecological?
The problems drawn out in this film are mainly political, economic, and behavioral sustainability problems. Politically, the film draws on the policies of past presidents, the war we are currently engaged in as a country and harps on how the current political system has a lack of a solution to this built-up problem of depletion of fossil fuels. Economic in the light that we as Americans rely on fossil fuels in a variety of ways, mainly as oil and fuel for cars, however also in energy and electricity for homes, in the production of goods, and for use in different materials such as plastics. Economically we cannot keep spending on products that rely too heavily on oil, however the film does not look into solutions. This also ties into the behavioral problem of consumerism in America, as we continuously spend on products that rely on fossil fuels. Again, however, the film does not shed light on alternative energy such as electric cars, caps on emissions by production companies, and green energy, such as wind and solar power. This being said, culturally, as Americans our spending habits need to change drastically over the next couple of decades, because the fossil fuels are being depleted and we as a generation have been raised to become consumers of major corporations based on how much we like a product, not generally looking at the long term result or looking at manufacturing.
What parts of the film did you find most persuasive and compelling? Why?
The parts of the film I found most persuasive were the facts as our society and culture in America. We are raised and bred to be consumers, to buy products without thinking and not bother to wonder why or how products break down shortly after purchasing. There are groups of Americans that are in credit card debt due to the spending habits that have become our nature. As seen in the film, when commercialism and major manufacturing struck in the 1950’s, our reliance on fossil fuels for products began to spike. As this commercialism grew and became a way of life, fuel prices began to rise but our habits didn’t change, which has landed us in debt and a seemingly irreversible fuel depletion problem as outlined by the film.
What parts of the film were you not compelled or convinced by? Why?
The main part of the film that I had a problem with was the fact that the film made it seem like the fossil fuel depletion will be the end of the road for us as Americans. It denied the fact that we are taking steps, albeit small, towards alternative and green energy. While fuel will eventually depleted or close to, we are already taking strides towards solutions, which is completely ignored by the film. Furthermore, this makes the arguments made by some of the film’s “experts” seem invalid as the majority of them predicted that our sources will be depleted within the next decade and World War III will break out over the rest of the reserves and that there will be no solution for this fixable problem.
What audiences does the film best address? Why?
This film is targeted toward the average spending American, designed to intimidate and spark fear on our dependence on fossil fuels. The average American is a working citizen who relies on a car or motorized vehicle for transport to stores, work, or school and thus relies on fuel. The average American also uses fuel to heat their home or provide electricity. The film harps on these sources, as well as manufacturing in order to hit home with the average consumer American. While the intention is unclear, the film certainly invokes fear in those consumers who are unaware of alternative energy.
What could have been added to this film to enhance its environmental educational value?
The film could have done substantially better if it had shed light on those alternatives that are already being produced and investigated rather than make it seem like the United States is just going to fall off the face of the Earth with loss of resources and start World War III over reserves. By adding information about alternative energy at the end of the film, the film would have sparked fear, however then used that fear to evoke the desire to find a solution, rather than just run amok among a sea of lost consumers with no more products to buy.
What kinds of action and points of intervention are suggested by the film? If the film itself does not suggest corrective action, describe actions that you can imagine being effective.
Again, the film offers little solution and intervention ideas, but rather harps on fear and ends in a rather depressing tone such that there is nothing we can do to remedy the situation. Intervention in the means of politics could be tied in with the conversations on how different policies have led us to this somewhat impending situations and rather than draw conclusions of mass chaos, spark some sort of political party or small revolution in which Americans could appeal the current political leaders to steer away from fossil fuels and start introducing policies to companies that use alternative energies for their manufacturing and products. Furthermore, a policy could be started that outlines something along the lines of a house can only rely on a certain amount of fossil fuels per year, and slowly decrease that amount as alternative energies become more advanced.
What additional information has this film compelled you to seek out? (Provide at least two supporting references.)
This film compelled me to look further into alternative energy as a growing source as fossil fuels become less of a dependency of the United States, specifically major companies’ research into alternative energies:
1) http://www.bp.com/modularhome.do?categoryId=7040&contentId=7051376
2) http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/02/shell-busts-a-move-builds-drop-in-biofuels-pilot-plant-in-texas