March 3, 2009 at 3:34PM
by Tommi Lewis Tilden
Fuel, the Sundance 2008 Audience Award documentary film winner, is an inspiring and informative story centered on director and alternative fuel activist Josh Tickell's revelations about energy's past, present and future. Tickell's timeline puts our current gas dependence into historical perspective, divulging how Standard Oil's J.D. Rockefeller foiled Henry Ford's attempt at ethanol cars, and questioning the mysterious death of brilliant engineer/scientist Rudolph Diesel at a time when biodiesel was poised to become a global choice for fuel.
Algae are woven into the story of energy's present and future. Two years ago when biodiesel production was slammed for messing up our food supplies (corn and soy) and needlessly burning up rainforests to make room for crops, algae, which can be harvested for biofuel, emerged as the new wonder product. It requires little land to farm in and even produces oxygen. According to Tickell, all of America's energy needs could be met by devoting just two percent of its land mass to algae-fuel production.
The film also gives props to our farmer/engineer President Jimmy Carter
, who delivered an energy policy plan way back in 1977
, outlining goals that included reducing our gas consumption, energy demand and oil imports, while increasing solar energy and insulation for houses and buildings. In 1979, Carter had solar panels installed on the White House roof, only to have Ronald Reagan
remove them in 1986. (They ended up atop a cafeteria at a Maine college
"We are grossly wasting our energy resources and other precious raw materials as though their supply was infinite," Carter said
in a 1974 campaign speech. "We must even face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living. This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned and rational way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature....
"We are still floundering and equivocating about protection of our environment. Neither designers of automobiles, mayors of cities, power companies, farmers, nor those of us who simply have to breathe the air, love beauty, and would like to fish or swim in pure water have the slightest idea in God's world what is coming out of Washington next! What does come next must be a firm commitment to pure air, clean water and unspoiled land."
Fuel, tagged as "the most hopeful movie of the year," conveys crucial and cohesive information for the entire spectrum of greensters -- from those in the know to the neophytes. But this important film relies solely on grassroots marketing -- street team volunteers, viral internet and word of mouth -- in order to reach theaters nationwide.
Public support pays off because there is little chance that anyone will walk away from this 111-minute film unchanged; as former President Carter warned, let us not be forced into action by environmental chaos. Fuel is a passionate story that will stir us into action and confirm that what we do really matters; we can control our environment's future.
Fuel could very well be the most empowering movie of the year.
In the photo at the upper right appears Josh Tickell and Peter Fonda.