Pictures, We Got Pictures

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Whew… On Friday, March 27, several club members attended the world premiere of The Burden, a documentary about how fossil fuel dependency bogs down our international relations. and the forces we send to police those foreign relations.  In fact, our armed forces get it coming and going.  They are dispatched due to our oil dependency, and are themselves bound by their own high consumption.  The premiere was held at the visitor’s center and theater under the Navy Memorial.  There was a reception beforehand; afterward, we had a Q&A panel with the director and other figures in security and energy (i. e., the same thing).

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Didn’t know there was a mini-museum and theater under the Navy Memorial, didja?

The documentary was not bad at all.  If I have any complaint, it’s that I’m already quite wonky, and already familiar with most of the topics covered.  I, personally, could have used more detail, though perhaps a mainstream viewer might disagree.  A mainstream viewer might already feel beaten over the head by the film for all I know.  For example, the film clearly showed vials and tubs of green fluid.  This is algae, which can be “farmed” compactly, then turned into biodiesel.  The panelists after the airing indicated that dense liquids like diesel fuel simply don’t have practical field substitutes except biodiesel, but that hadn’t been made clear in the film itself.  The movie’s not even an hour, for that matter.  Similarly, the panel mentioned that the Navy has successfully generated methanol fuel from (mostly) seawater; this was not included in the film at all.

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On the other hand, the film did a good job portraying the issue in human terms.  It used testimonials from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, far more than graphs and charts.  There wasn’t even a gruff narrator at all, telling you what you should be thinking.  One appearance was Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who dared to promote a leaner, more fuel-efficient, and more deployable and survivable military.  In return, he was defeated in the next primary as not ‘supporting the troops.’  The film included fuel use by the military itself, as well as the populace back home, still living a cheap-oil lifestyle.  An admiral on the panel afterward made the point that fuel efficiency brings military capabilities like increased payload and time on station, and is not just wonkiness for the sake of principle.

The overall point gets made: conservation is a national priority, waste is a security threat and tactical vulnerability.  This is not a matter of political opinion, it’s basic logistics, and what is the military without logistics?

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