Blind Spot Documentary

Blind Spot is a new documentary directed by Adolfo Doring that may be of interest to Oil Drum readers. This is a link to its website. It is described thus:

Blind Spot is a documentary film that illustrates the current oil and energy crisis that our world is facing. Whatever measures of ignorance, greed, wishful thinking, we have put ourselves at a crossroads, which offer two paths with dire consequences. If we continue to burn fossil fuels we will choke the life out of the planet and if we don’t our way of life will collapse.

According to one review, "It makes 'An Inconvenient Truth' look like a sitcom".

The movie features interviews with William Catton Jr., Max Fraad Wolff, Richard Heinberg, Kenneth Deffeyes, Albert Bartlett, Roscoe Bartlett, James Hansen, David Pimentel, Joseph Tainter, David Korten, Jason Bradford, Elke Weber, Mary-Ann Hitt, Terry Tamminen, Ted Caplow and Derrick Jensen.

The movie is available as a DVD for $16 and lasts about 1.5 hours. It would be great if readers could convince a local public television station to show it. The web site includes a trailer and 12 short excerpts available on the website. Some quotes about the film below the fold.

Times Oct 2008:

There’s a lot of environmental films out there that while not painting a rosy picture still want us to feel a sense of “hey things will still be ok” not so with Blind Spot. Director Adolfo Doring has, along with many of the scientists, economists and other experts, wisely decided that the time for coddling us is past, perhaps even too long past. This absolutely beautifully shot ode to the end of our world as we have known it doesn’t even bother to try and convince us. Either you see the visual beauty of this world, city and country, and want to save it or you don’t. Either you hear and heed the wisdom of the cadre of experts he presents or you don’t. There is no panic in this film just an absolute and stark reality that we either choose to face or not. Either way the film tells us it’s coming and as one environmental advocate quotes nature as saying (and I paraphrase) either you do it or I will and if I do it I’ll remove things and most of them will be you.

Essay on Blind Spot by Kemp Scales

Grim stuff. I don’t think we'll see this film on network TV. It challenges too directly fundamental assumptions on which the continuance of our corporate economy and our consumer culture is based – in particular, the unquestioned assumption that growth is good, that “expansion is tantamount to progress.”

“Blind Spot” makes no attempt to soften or sweeten its message in order to make it palatable to a wider audience. The people interviewed are blunt about the seriousness of the problems we face: peak oil; climate change; population overshoot. These problems are getting worse, as whatever temporary progress we make in curbing this growth is quickly nullified by a growing population combined with the “Jevons Paradox” – the fact that increased technological efficiency in the use of a resource tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate at which that resource is consumed. (Cars becoming more fuel-efficient means we can drive more miles for the same cost, and so we do.) These problems have potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire human species; indeed, we run the risk that positive feedback loops will develop that take matters completely outside our control. And we’ve largely squandered the last forty years, precious time that we desperately needed to plan for these imminent crises.

Other Quotes

“If we lived in a rational world, inhabited by rational human beings, viewing Blind Spot would be a mandatory prerequisite to taking any federal oath of office in the coming year. Were that to happen, there might be hope that the USA would resume world leadership and our renewed influence would be used to redirect ourselves and the world away from the unsustainable path upon which we plummeted along throughout the 20th century, mistakenly regarding the adventure as unmitigated progress.”
-William R. Catton
author of ‘OVERSHOOT’

“Blind Spot rides currents of beauty and sadness, ultimately landing with a catharsis that comes when truth has been told.”
-Jason Bradford

“The next few decades aren’t going to look like the last few - not at all. And the sooner we come to terms with that, the better. This documentary is a good place to start.”
-Bill McKibben
author of ‘The End of Nature’

I'd be curious to hear from someone who's seen this to find out if this is a documentary that could be given to friends/family who wouldn't just assume it's a classic doomsday prophecy that they'll put in their virtual circular file. "The Oil Crash" was a fairly good documentary; does this equal or top it in it's ability to effectively and convincingly communicate without walking around with a "The End is Nigh" sign?

I bought the CD (it's cheap) and watched it three times. I should view it again before commenting, but basically it covers the factual ground fairly well and adds an important element - why do people hear about these facts but not pay attention? McKibben: It's easy to get us to believe your lies if we in fact want you to tell us those lies. Another line: you can lead people to the gas chambers if you can just give them enough reason to think that they're showers. You can lead people to the end of the world if you can just get them to believe they can solve the global warming problem by changing a few light bulbs to CFLs.

I have also watched Chris Martenson's Crash Course (a couple of dozen You Tubes) and I think the two would go very well together. Just search on 'Martenson' + 'crash course'. Blind Spot forces us to realize we have to stare at the facts (although reading Catton's Overshoot - or just the first page - was pretty darn useful there for me). Crash Course lays out the whole catastrophe. For instance, it shows us a 3-foot-long copper nugget from days long gone and then shows us the mile-wide open pit where enormous diesel-guzzling machines are needed to extract crappy ore today; and also asks who the baby boomers think will want to buy the retirement mutual funds they're hoping to sell. It harps on a theme: the next 20 years will be NOTHING LIKE the last 20.

A nearby town has a charter school ... they have a course called "Rural Arts". That's gardening, weaving, knitting, sewing, carpentry, all the basic living stuff (which skills are more likely to be useful than, say, writing marketing copy)...

I have not seen this movie, but it sounds a fair bit like: "What A Way To Go, life at the end of empire" which I do have, and can strongly recommend.

The website for that film is here:

and if you Google this:
life at the end of empire torrent

you'll find downloads

I also recommend "What A Way To Go"... it's not one for the uninititated though.

Similar theme as What a Way to Go. Doesn't hit quite as hard though, so may be an easier "starter" film.

Minor comment about Jevon's Paradox.

It only applies if you have elastic supply. If supply is inelastic (as in the case with Peak Oil), then it probably won't apply.
(Not that this minor point would change things all that much....)

All in all a documentary for those with patience, previous knowledge, and a good attention span.

Some nice filmography, awareness of light and composition etc... and some very duff stuff. An abandoned sofa!! - Level one student connotation.

Too many talking heads saying the same thing in a different way.

As always a problem made too distant by over complexity of analysis, each opinion is supposed to support the thesis, but actually diminishes its impact.

Don't get me wrong, this has some great footage, interviews and ideas, but this will turn off the main stream - so therefore it won't be shown to them.

Historically, this and others, may be studied carefully, but contributing to paradigm shifting now - this is not.

Though I haven't talked to him since the conference, and I was just sent the DVD so haven't seen it, I think this was the outcome of the Peak Oil and the Environment Conference in DC in May 2006 - almost the same cast, and Wallace Global was major sponsor of that conference.

We are rationalizing creatures, not rational creatures. Historically it is rare for homo sapiens to have adopted a paradigm shift before an ecological constraint forces the shift (usually via collapse of the prior society).

You said it right.

The more I learn about everything, the more I'm convinced there is no solution but to go through a Malthusian catastrophe.

The odds point to that but it is not definite until the fat ecologist sings.

But it looks like plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose in government. 8 years ago after 9/11 we missed a great chance to change direction - instead we shopped. Obama is missing the same opportunity right now - pandering to those shouting the loudest, instead of looking long term.

Watched Blind Spot several times and showed it to a group of people with only a little awareness of peak oil. The comments afterwards were all very favourable: one person wanted to borrow it, someone else said it should be shown more widely, someone else thought it was accessible enough for a 14 year old, another was impressed with the speakers' credentials.

It has been compared with "What a Way to Go" which is perhaps the closest film to it in that there is some overlap in the interviewees and obviously the subject matter. Both films feature Richard Heinberg, William Catton, Derrick Jensen, though both also feature many other speakers too. Blind Spot features Joseph Tainter, Jason Bradford, Albert Bartlett and Roscoe Bartlett. Also neither film features a "happy ending".

However I don't think these two films are that comparable. Blind Spot is the film you'd want to show people who are less familiar with the peak oil which is it's main focus. What a Way to Go is brilliant and is more focused on 'the imminent collapse of civilization'. It covers not just peak oil but overshoot, climate change and mass extinction. For the uninitiated WWtG is probably going to be too much of a shock to take in. It is also based around one man's journey exploring these issues. This makes it more emotional and powerful but also easier for someone who's not part way there yet to discredit. Blind Spot has some interesting stuff on economics while WWtG delves into denial, addiction, and our culture's myths.

A friend of mine whose seen most of the full length peak oil documentaries said these two films along with the Power of Community were his favourites. They're also two of mine.

I ordered the DVD from the United States in response to this post and have watched it a couple of times. Unfortunately it is not available here in Australia. I would like to get others to watch it, but as usual, it's only the handful of already aware people who want to know. I found it beautifully filmed and very accessible, but to me no surprises. I was already well familiar with the contents and indeed many of the speakers. Those that have written books, I own and have read them, and those that have websites I check regularly (especially The Oil Drum - twice a day!) I also collect podcasts where these people are featured. I try to talk to people around me about the implications of peak oil, climate change and economic transformation and indeed maintain my own blog with links to useful websites (including The Oil Drum as number one), a useful reading list and discussions of my own preparations for what James Howard Kunstler calls The Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century. I do find it so exasperating, that almost every single person I speak to responds with a mixture of amusement and stout denial. "Technology will save us" is the almost universal cry. Why don't they get it? I don't want this stuff to be a secret, it shouldn't be a secret, it isn't a secret, and yet the vast majority of people in Australia are spectacularly clueless, even as our land and once green cities rapidly desertify and our economy begins to implode. "It's all cyclacle - downs are inevitably followed by ups" is another universal cry. Why? Are we entitled? I think it's worth a try - encourage people to watch 'Blind Spot' if you can, but don't be surprised if you come up against resistance. After all, Climate Change is now more readily accepted as a result of very good public information campaigns such as Al Gore's. But will awareness be closely followed enough by action, and will action be in time? Unfortunately I believe the answer to both halves of that question will be "NO!"