With a world population of almost seven billion, it’s hard to contemplate how filling up your car with gas affects the rest of the population. It begins with gas station employees who earn their wages from you filling up. It moves on to the employees of the corporation that brought the fuel to the gas station, then stretches to the countries where we get our oil and the workers who physically extract the oil from the earth.
In the case of “The Cost of Oil” the people on the opposite end of the oil-to-gas chain are the Inupiat people of Point Hope, Alaska. This native tribe has lived on the northern coast for more than two thousand years, maintaining a harmony with their environment. But, with modern conveniences lurching into their culture, their livelihoods have become threatened.
In the case of the Inupiat, the exploration and drilling for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas is destroying their way of life. “The Cost of Oil” beautifully captures stunning images and footage from the Alaskan North Slope to illustrate how the cultural heritage, hunting methods, language, and subsistence lifestyles of the Inupiat are being affected by offshore oil drilling. The tribe tells stories of their struggle to balance their historical way of life with their recent poverty that was caused by increasing globalization.
Oil industry members, environmentalists, biologists, geophysicists, linguists, ethnologists, and Inupiat natives discuss the effects of the chase for oil in this delicate habitat. This documentary seeks to make sense of the search for American oil as a means to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, despite its debilitating effect on our native peoples.
The interviews in this DVD are heart wrenching, and imagery of the arctic tundra are stunning. It’s an emotionally charged, visually stimulating documentary of the true cost of oil. It’s important to realize the chain that links us to oil, and how oil affects everyone and everything throughout the chain.
Many people gain from the oil industry, including us. We fuel our automobiles with the stuff, which enables us to pursue our careers, dreams, and ambitions. In many ways, oil connects us to the people we love. Oil has made many people rich. Oil has also destroyed cultures, livelihoods, and ways of life. Oil has damaged the environment in many ways. Oil spills, like the famous 1989 spill in the Prince William Sound of Alaska, kill thousands of animals and destroy habitats. More important, though, our use and abuse of oil has caused global warming.
By watching this documentary, viewers empower themselves with the knowledge from the other side of the oil chain. It is important to be able to see the faces of people displaced by oil. It is important to become aware of what our dependence on oil, whether foreign or American, is really doing.