Perhaps one of the neglected perspectives was the first-hand experiences of people directly affected by the oil industry, particularly those in countries reminiscent of Pakistan – which, just last 12 months, in 2022 – experienced six months of unprecedented floods, leaving almost 21 million people in need of urgent humanitarian care, in response to UNICEF.
Tessa Khan, an environmental lawyer based within the UK, briefly mentioned Pakistan and the necessity for climate reparations – but I’d like to have seen that explored more deeply.
The documentary primarily showcases the attitude of academics, distinguished economists and experts of their respective fields, providing rational analyses of the problem. While their insights are invaluable, I can’t help but feel that the film somewhat lacks a human and emotional connection.
It will have been enriching to incorporate the first-hand experiences of people who’ve been directly impacted by the oil industry, reminiscent of those that struggled to heat their homes this winter or faced difficulties affording proper meals.
The dearth of private narrative gave me the sensation that something was missing, something that may allow viewers to attach with the real-life consequences of our reliance on oil – which might have complemented the more logical evaluation presented by experts.
One other neglected aspect was the ecological impact. Our perception of the industry often tends to be primarily human-centric, specializing in its role in global warming and the potential threat it poses on our own existence.
The North Sea is teaming with diverse marine life. Without considering the profound consequences of drilling and potential oil spills has on its fragile ecosystem, we miss out on the true extent of harm brought on by the oil industry.
This doesn’t make The Oil Machine any less valid. Actually, I feel it truly serves as a wakeup call.
Ann Pettifor, who will likely be speaking at SMALL IS THE FUTURE on June 17, accurately describes the necessity for urgent motion: “If we were about to be hit by a meteorite, the federal government would do every part possible to forestall that taking place.
“It wouldn’t say, let’s wait for the private sector to give you a plan and a managed transition towards the moment of impact. We will’t depend on self-serving, capital gains making shareholders and oil corporations for that transition.”
In its entirety the documentary serves an illuminating exploration of the underlying complexities that impede our progress towards a much-needed transition towards renewable energy sources.
It’s very much a depressing snapshot of our current political, economic and social dependency on oil. It does leave me pondering the true extent of the changes and sacrifices humanity must make to interrupt free from the clutches of this destructive cycle.
Yasmin Dahnonun is the assistant editor of The Ecologist. The Oil Machine will likely be screened alongside Offshore on Saturday, June 17, 2023 on the Paintworks in Bristol. Get your Cinema Climatic tickets now.