Monday, July 14, 2008

The History of Oil, through Comedy

This has to be one of the most brilliant presentations of history I have seen yet. Funny, interesting, provocative, and entertaining.

Please set aside 45 minutes this week and watch this. It sounds like a big commitment, but believe me, I'm saving you time. You'd have to read a lot to get this condensed an understanding of the history of oil, the reasons for the war in Iraq, and the way to save your food costs from skyrocketing.

My hat is WAY off to the remarkable comic historian who penned and performs this, Robert Newman.

This should be embedded but it's not working - go here to see it.

And hey, Newman's quite the thinker/writer as well. Here's a snippet from his blog:

There is no planet B, so we need an economic plan B. We need to develop new economic systems because there is only one eco-system and it cannot survive the present free market economy.


Something else of great value which climate campaigners can do are soldiarity actions with frontline communities. Those living in the Niger Delta, for example. Friday 10th November will be the 10th anniversary of the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was killed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against what Shell were doing in Nigeria. Now, ten years later, Shell’s gas flaring in the Niger Delta is the single largest source of carbon emissions on the planet. 2.5 billion cubic feet per day. The single largest source of carbon emissions on the planet. Shell is a UK-registered company, based right here in Britain (and contributing to that GDP of which the Stern report wants us to divert 1% to offsetting the effects of climate change). It is our right and our duty to take Shell back into public ownership, dismantle it, break it up, and send its management into rehabilition training in the hope that they can one day be re-introduced into society as useful members of the community.

We have a unique historic opportunity to make of the post-fossil fuel world a much more equal and better place than we knew in the Petroleum Era. So many of the global inequalities and injustices and oppressions are deeply stratified into the World Oil Economy, hard-wired into a carbon-fuelled profit frenzy. As we disentangle ourselves from the fossil-fuel economy, we might experiment with new ways of working with the Global South rather than theft and control punctuated, like a wife-beater, by contrition. They might even involve listening to and then doing what they say.

Hat tip to my correspondent in SLO who turned me on to this guy. Many thanks, friend!


Blogger Dawn Meredith said...

Thanks so much for this. It was brilliant. I will send it out to people.

It was also terrifying in that this planet seems pretty doomed at the moment. I don't see the greedy oil industry allowing an alternate source of energy to be developed unless it is somehow tied to them. They are not going to just go away.

I remember a million years ago, (mid 70's) reading Barry Commoner's book The Closing Circle and his thoughts on why solar energy would never be a reality: no one can own the sun.

We need some pols with some serious backbone and we just don't have many of those. (Look at the FISA vote! Nixon is smiling in hell)


4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was awesome, Lisa.

I just posted a link to your story over at C&L.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Awesome, Dave. Thanks!!

And Dawn - that book sounds familiar. I don't know if I read it but the name is definitely familiar. So many books, so little time!!

And yes - I'm reading Jim Douglass's excellent book on JFK and his assassination, and am struck by how brave JFK was. He really stood up to the military and corporate establishment in a way we haven't seen for a very long time before or since. I'll write that up when I finish reading it - highly relevant to what Obama will face as President. I doubt seriously Obama is anywhere near as brave as Kennedy, but I'd love to have him prove me wrong.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I'd want Obama to prove you wrong... for obvious reasons.

Blowing the chief executive's head off in public, and filming it for posterity carries a pretty strong message.

I obviously don't know it for a fact, but I have always suspected that early in Bill Clinton's first term, when he was riding out there on that boat with the Kennedys, they may have been discussing the pitfalls and ins and outs of how to get as much done as possible without generating an alliance that destroys you in the process.

JFK's bravery was absolutely necessary, or at least I believe he saw it that way, if he was to prevent the world from going up in flames before his term was up. He succeeded, but paid with his life for it, and the rest of us have paid the cost in the form of watching our Great Experiment torn down from the inside, while the perpetrators covered their tracks and their backs.

I believe Obama will tread carefully, pushing the boundaries in different areas at different times, while attempting to keep the beast fat and happy enough not to be aroused.



12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of our 35th President, Lisa.

In this short clip you really get the sense that JFK is just beginning to realize what he is up against.

9:28 AM  
Blogger hANOVER fIST said...

The Robert Newman presentation is priceless!

I just wish that it could be made clear that the "so-called" Oil shortage is bullchips!

Oil is not a bloody fossil fuel; it wasn't made from dinosaur's made abiotically!

At most...the only troublesome oil consumption is in our tanks, jeeps and other vehicles of mass destruction.

12:54 PM  

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