CNN and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett: Peak Oil and a New Poll about Energy

CNN's The Situation Room anticipates airing a story about Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and peak oil in conjunction with releasing some results from a new poll about energy today at approximately 4:30 pm Eastern.

Update [2006-3-15 20:16:22 by Prof. Goose]:Here's a .torrent of the video (.torrent and .rm warning).

Update [2006-3-15 19:57:57 by Prof. Goose]:Here's an .mp3 of today's segment (audio only, .mp3 warning) with Rep. Bartlett.

Here's Congressman Bartlett's one-hour Speech about peak oil quoting from a September 2005 Army Corps of Engineers report (pdf warning) he requested recently and that was posted yesterday on his website.  The report was marked "approved for public release distribution is unlimited".  Congressman Bartlett also discusses a new energy initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Here's a link to the OilCrash movie site. Also, there was this item you may have missed from The Hill. (scroll to the Bartlett section...)

Definitely visit that Oil Crash movie site. Good stuff.
I wonder if they'd consider putting the movie online?  Eventually, if not right now.  

Going Upriver was released to theaters and to Bittorent at the same time.

It is really tough for little films like this.  The big chains are oftentimes tied into large distributors, and you end up with a few arthouse screens here and there, and even these are spread a long ways apart.

Over the weekend I saw "The World's Fastest Indian".  A little indie film - it has Anthony Hopkins starring in it, so it isn't like this is a student film or anything.   An excellent film with a great story, and yet there are damned few screens out there that are showing it.  Most people have never heard of it.  It is like this all the time with independent films.

I am wondering if enough interest comes up whether this sort of film could come to some cable channel somewhere.  One of the Discovery channels, or perhaps National Geographic.

I just watched the trailer for the movie.  It would be nice if it came to my area though - I imagine that it will come out on DVD, but the real target audience should be people who don't know bupkis about peak oil..

I wonder if the update of the CNN Presents page was held back until the story this afternoon.  They did mention that Bartlett will appear in the documentary..

I saw the World Premier of OilCrash! at the SXSW Film Festival. Extremely powerful -- very sobering.  Very comprehensive discussion of the peak oil issue.  Quite impressive.

Includes Bartlett, Simmons, Matt Savinar, David Goodstein, former OPEC Oil Minister and Iraq Oil Minister, several senior oil industry folks, Colin Campbell, other experts and so on.  

The film is very good for folks who don't really understand or "buy in" to the idea of Peak Oil yet, but is also an excellent resource of facts, sometimes startling, for those of us who do.

Numerous statistics and lots of logical analysis, and understandable.  During the Q&A almost every audience member began their questions with, "Thank you, thank you for doing this film"  or  "I had no idea, I'm stunned."  One question was, " when I talk to my family about this, what is your best estimate of the timeframe of when the sh-- will hit the fan?"  

The Producers, journalists from Switzerland, reported that they are actively seeking a Distribution Agreement.  They have hired a firm in NY to help with this.   They also repeatedly stated that they had no political agenda in the making of this film, rather they are simply journalists -- they researched as best they could and put together what they learned.  They said even they were shocked with the truth of what they discovered in the making of the film. They understand the importance of the film and will post updates on their website,".

Present for the post-film Q&A for the world premier were David Room and Matt Savinar, and on the second screening included Jim Baldauf (interim President of ASPO-USA).

I meant to bring my giant wooden cutout of a fire breathing Jesus with flaming red eyes to the premier to admonish people that the end is near and to "turn or burn! turn or burn!"

I thought the film was overall good but I shouldn't have let them rearrange my office to make it look like a survivalist bunker.



Why is it, that when i go to the website to find Oil Crash, it isn't listed? Just an oversight,or are the purposly leaving it out of the advertisment.. I'd be pissed if I was the producers of that documentary...

Robert NW Ohio

I suspect you are looking for "Oil Crash" instead of "OilCrash". At an rate, here is the direct link:

So did anyone else see the CNN piece?  It was a solid piece by Sesno, mostly done in preparation for his program this weekend, which looks like it could be quite good.  (that airs Sat and Sun at 8p).  

Some great public opinion data in there too.  I am trying to track it down to report it.  I think it was a USAToday/CNN poll...if anyone can find it before I do, send it to the eds address please.  

Sorry, PG, I can't seem to find it either.
Fraid not - no video feed on the web that I could get to.  I was going to wait for the transcript, which I suppose will appear tomorrow.

They still haven't updated the "CNN Presents" page with the supplemental information, but I did find the educators guide:

It seems that both Simmons and Bartlett appear in the film, so how bad could it be :-)?

The transcript is out:


BLITZER: Welcome back. We have some brand new poll numbers to share with you right on America's energy problems. Things got worse once again this week when we learned that gas prices have gone back up by 11 cents a gallon. Just 12 percent of those surveyed in our new poll think the nation is in an energy crisis. But 49 see major problems with energy in the United States; 35 cite minor problems.

Most Americans, 71 percent, say the president is not doing enough to solve the nation's energy woes. CNN's special correspondent Frank Sesno has been looking into all things energy, America's addiction to oil. Frank, you've done an incredible amount of work. What are you picking up?

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: We're heading for this documentary that's going to air this weekend, Wolf. We'll talk about that more in a minute. The president says, as you pointed out, we're addicted to oil. Well, even some of his allies are saying that the clock is ticking. And you saw those poll numbers, not just on the politics, but on the oil itself.


SESNO: Roscoe Bartlett may seem like an unlikely rebel in the war to end America's addiction to oil. He's a 79-year-old former scientist, worked on America's manned space, program in the '60s, and a soft-spoken great grandfather.

REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R), MARYLAND: We have been using more oil than we have found.

SESNO: But he's also a feisty conservative Republican congressman from Maryland who believes we're headed for the far side of a cliff, a cliff called peak oil.

BARTLETT: There will be a day when we have reached our maximum capacity for producing oil. After that, it's going to be downhill.

SESNO: Bartlett is co-chair of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus. He was there when the president said...


SESNO: Pleased to hear the words, but too little too late, contends Bartlett, who broke with his party and president last year and voted against their energy bill. He says it was simply inadequate.

SESNO (on camera): You're a Republican.


SESNO: Pretty conservative guy. BARTLETT: But I'm not an idiot.

SESNO (voice-over): Bartlett recites the numbers. The world burns 84 million barrels of oil every day. The U.S. alone accounts for about a quarter of that. With explosive growth in places like China and India, it's estimated we'll need 40 percent more in just 20 years.

SESNO (on camera): If the world cannot produce more oil to keep up with growing demand, what happens?

BARTLETT: The least bad scenario, I think, is a deep worldwide recession. And if we don't work together, it could be the equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. War, famine, pestilence, and death.

SESNO (voice-over): Plenty of people reject Peak Oil's vision of impending doom, especially the oil industry. Exxon-Mobil has taken out ads saying with abundant oil resources, peak production is nowhere in site. "Hogwash," says Bartlett.

Bartlett heats his 150-year-old house with wood, has a passive solar greenhouse, and drives a hybrid car. He challenges his president, and calls for a mix of high and low-tech solutions, a big push on conservation and renewable fuels, higher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, more nuclear power, fast.

BARTLETT: I'm probably going to be OK through my life. But what about my kids and my grandkids? What kind of a country are they going to live in? What kind of a world are they going to live in?


SESNO: I've got to tell you, Wolf, that Roscoe Bartlett is just one man, one voice. But what he's saying actually seems to be gaining some traction on Capitol Hill. The right moves to the center, the left moves to the center. What they say is more exploration, more conservation, and more work, because the clock really is ticking.

BARTLETT: You've got some other new poll numbers you're looking at.

SESNO: Yes. Bartlett's not alone in his worries. It's very interesting taking a look at this poll that we just did, CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll. Three quarters of the people say that they fear that the world is going to run short of oil, that we're not going to produce enough oil to keep up with all this demand. Three-quarters of people are concerned about that.

About three in ten say within 25 years. That kind of reflects the big division as to how much time is really left. And finally, Wolf, people are worried about something very immediate and something that you've been spending a lot of time talking about. That's terrorism. Three-quarters of the people I asked said that they fear that terrorists will attempt a major attack on oil installations within the next 12 months. BLITZER: Frank Sesno, thanks very much. Our special correspondent. And what Frank just told us all about is only a snippet of this incredible story. Please stay tuned to CNN this weekend, "CNN Presents: We Were Warned. Tomorrow's Oil Crisis." That airs Saturday and Sunday evenings, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. You'll want to stick around. See it this weekend. Frank Sesno and "CNN Presents."

Coming up, a Republican lightning rod. Congresswoman Katherine Harris about to make an important announcement. Will she stay in or will she drop out of her race for the U.S. Senate from Florida? The suspense is building.

And Saddam Hussein in the witness chair. A tirade that riles the judge and leads to the media being shut up. A full report, that's coming up in our next hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


This was a poll conducted about the "Addicted to Oil" Idea. 85% Agree that we are. Note the age gap in the results on solutions. Older folks want to drill for more, younger want more conservation, alternatives.
I saw it.  

I recorded it, too.  It was short.  Pretty good, all things considered.  

Am investigating the possibility of making the clip available online.  Just for educational purposes, y'know...

let me know if you do...?  GPM would probably be interested in that, but of course, I bet there's HUGE copyright issues.
Found a host, at least temporarily.  The AVI was almost 2 Gb, so I converted it to RealMedia:

Video (16 Mb)

Right-click and save it to your hard drive.  

While the bandwidth lasts.  Mirrors welcome.  

is this something you could torrent?  (not that I am advising illegal activity or know anything about the torrenting process...)
I don't know how to make a torrent.  I was under the impression that you had to have your own server to do that, but I honestly don't know much about it.  

Text transcript is up at CNN:

also here (this will be the link I put out front too, Leanan, since it sounds like the other has limited b-width.) but audio only:

"Bleep" at made the RealMedia into a torrent:

I am trying to figure out how to make them.  I'm trying to make one out of the 2 Gb AVI file.

I wouldn't bother.  It's too big and it'll take a while to d/l comparatively.  The .rm should be fine.  It's good quality and Real is free.
Here's an alternate source to get the file:

Worth a look, because this segment wasn't in "We Were Warned."  Must have ended up on the cutting room floor.

The key poll data can be found in the text of the piece on CNN's website, as Blitzer read it out.  Not sure if it lives elsewhere on the site.  But the questions didn't impress me.  77% agree that oil will run out.  Well, OK.  So it's finite.  Only abiotic nuts think otherwise, so that's a meaningless question, and a meaningless stat.  Worse is the one that asks if Bush is "doing enough" about our energy problems.  I'm glad 71% said no.  But the reality is he's doing plenty.  I'd argue that his entire policy is centered around it.  So he's doing more than "enough" - it's just all wrong - war, spying, selling off public lands, lining corporate pockets and tearing up the Constitution, all in the name of "the war on terror" that "won't end in our lifetimes" which is just Orwellian terminolgy  for "the final planetary resource war".  Ok, so I ranted.  The piece had merit.  I look forward to Saturday.  But if this is the best MSM journalism we've got left, well, that speaks volumes for how and why we're in this mess in the first place.  Everything for profit, pay no attention to reality...
agreed...but I would like to get a crack at that dataset, see if there are important demographic and ideological differences.  I hope Sesno gives more of the details on Saturday.
PG, can you give us non-USA people an idea of how mainstream this CNN thing is going to be?

I mean, what percentage of Amercia is likely to watch this on the weekend?

It is September 2009. A Category 5 hurricane roars through Houston, destroying oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines--the complex system that provides a quarter of our nation's daily fuel supply. Three days later, terrorists attack two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier. In the days and weeks that follow, gasoline prices hit record highs, food prices soar as trucks cannot afford to make deliveries, and Americans begin to realize that their very way of life is in peril.
CNN Education

Looks like CNN thinks that Peak Oil still needs a fictional story line.

Duncan, that's a good question.  I would guess that a Saturday or Sunday night on CNN will have a narrow audience.  I looked up their ratings in those timeslots (number of people):

Sunday, March 12
8pm: War Stories: 797,000 / CNN Presents (7 to 9): 581,000 / Catastrophe: 178,000

Saturday, March 11
8pm: Heartland: 652,000 / CNN Presents (7 to 9): 696,000 / MSNBC Investigates: 355,000

So, not a lot, not a little.  

Thanks Prof.  Any chance you could post the ratings next week?

I suppose if 600,000 people watch it and 1% are moved enough to actually do something positive about it, then you've got another 6,000 people that might be out there spreading the word.

Let's hope the other channels have weak line-ups at the saame times.

well, it'll be 1.2 million (because of 600k each day)...but that's 12000 people who might get it, that's not bad.
Where did Bartlett get the 1 barrel of oil equals the work of 12 people for a year?  I thought I read here some time back that it was closer to 1 person's labor for a year.
It depends on how it's measured.  Some measure the work human arms can do, some measure the work human legs can do, some use a combination (sometimes with body heat generated included).
Very cool.  :)  So outside of the New York Times article, is this the first time that PO hit mainstream?
Depends on what you consider the mainstream.  CNN has discussed peak oil before, but they've never had an entire show about it.  
completely depends on how you define mainstream...first smaller magazines, a few book reviews, it's just been a secular trend towards these mainstream outlets.  very interesting if you step back and look at it long term.
Fox TV showed a movie last June called Oil Storm that had almost the same plot. A hurricane hit New Orleans (this was pre-Katrina!) and damaged the oil unloading facilities, so they had to divert everything to Houston. Then an accident in the Houston oil channel shut that down, so things were really in trouble. Then some terrorism in the middle east made it even worse. Gas hit about $6 a gallon or even more. This new show is so similar I can't help wondering if somebody copied somebody else's work.

I don't think it was a big hit or anything but it was pretty mainstream.

Hi everyone.

Can anyone tell when will the show be broadcast on CNN International?


Answering myself, "We Were Warned" will be broadcast at theese times on CNN International:

Saturday: 12:00 GMT    22:00 GMT

Sunday:   13:00 GMT    17:00 GMT

Dear Lads,

I usually do not have to many answers to questions here on TOD, because I have the technological knowlegde of a piece of wood.

You can bet this was the last time I helped YOU out!

Next Saturday at 13.00 hours Central European Time.
"Most Americans, 71 percent, say the president is not doing enough to solve the nation's energy woes"

Funny people, those Americans.

Instead of doing something themselves they agree the president must do more. As Kunstler said, people have become overfed crybabies. Grow up!(not directed at TODders)

Not that the problems can be "solved" but that is an entirely different matter......

The thing people haven't gotten yet is that life as usual won't be able to continue.  The first inclination that people will have is that there must be some technical 'fix' of some sort, and once we come up with something that works, then we can all relax and go back to whatever it was we were doing before.

Given this is probably what people expect, then wanting the President to do something would be a reasonable thing for them to want - they want people to start working on the technical 'fix'.

Even then - there are things that the President could do that would help.  Emphasize conservation for one, but he would undoubtably choke on the word were it to try and make its way out of his throat, and the Secret Service would then need to give him the Heimlich.

Has anyone succeeded in grabbing a copy of the Army Corps report mentioned by Cong. Bartlett?  The link doesn't work for me.
The link worked for me.  I think it's just a traffic issue.  Or a really slow server.  It's only 1 Mb or so, but it takes forever to download.  Try right-clicking it and saving it to your hard drive.
Putting the link up again as a convenience. It so matter of reads like TOD material. They even draw heavily on ASPO website docs.

9. General Conclusions and Implications (from the report)

Throughout the 20th Century, the United States has been a profligate energy consumer.

The rapid and expansive growth of the economy was based on cheap and abundant energy. Little thought and planning have been given to how to transition to the realities of the 21st Century when petroleum and natural gas resources will become depleted.

The U.S. economy uses 50 percent more energy per unit of GDP than the other developed nations of the world (EIA 2004).

The fossil fuel-based,automobile-centered, throw-away economy is not a viable model for the United States or the rest of the world over the long term. It is not sustainable.