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Must See Documentary - The End of Suburbia

Updated on January 4, 2009

I just watched a great documentary on the oil crisis. The End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and The Collapse of The American Dream produced by Barry Silverthorn was amazing and scary to watch. The End of Suburbia was produced in 2004 with lots of warnings about what was going to happen in the future if North Americans continued to consume oil and energy at the rate we have been doing for the past half century. So what was amazing and scary about this? Much of what they predicted in 2004 actually happened in 2008.

For the past 50 years the people of North America have flocked to the suburbs. They were seeking a better life of affluence and hoping to become land and home owners. In the process suburbanites have become the biggest consumers of oil because now they have to travel great distances to get anywhere. In the past people lived within walking distance (for the most part) of everything they needed. Now I would venture to guess that most people don't live within walking distance of anything they need. For example the only thing I could walk to (within a mile) is a gas station, a donut shop and a Subway).

All this traveling and demand for heating has depleted oil resources all over the world. The End of Suburbia does a great job of explaining how it really works. We are not at the end of the oil available to us, but we have already peaked and are on the downward slope of our supply. This means that the quality of the oil is diminished and it is harder to get from the Earth. And obviously it will be gone someday.

The time to start seriously conserving is past. We have to take action now. I know that most people think that their own actions won't have much of an impact on the whole world, but they will. Collectively if many people make even small changes it will have a positive effect on the world. I know that gas prices have dropped from the $4 per gallon that they hit in the summer of 2008, but we still need to make driving decisions as if the prices were still high. This is the first step to improving our reliance on an ever diminishing supply of oil.

Realistically, Americans need to be obsessively trying to figure out a way to heat and power our homes and vehicles with something other than oil. I was shocked in The End of Suburbia when an expert (I can't remember who, sorry.) said that if we started using alternative forms of energy, all forms of alternative energy combined would not give us enough. At the rate that we consume there would never be enough wind and solar power to supply what we want. I do wonder if it could supply what we need though, if we drastically reduced our consumption.

The End of Suburbia was very interesting and I am so glad that I watched it. It confirmed what I was thinking about our oil supply, however I didn't realize how serious it was. Unfortunately many people think that our oil is unlimited, but we have used so much of it in the last 50 years that it won't be long before it is all gone. What does that mean for our children and grandchildren? We have to start thinking about it now - before the oil is all gone.


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    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 9 years ago from San Francisco

      US gas usage has not dropped that much at all. The reason gas prices have fallen so quickly is that the US dollar has strengthened in recent months.

      Good point about the need for conservation. Hopefully Detroit will stop fighting fuel-efficiency standards (since their competitors overseas don't seem to have any trouble with it). I also favor a gas-price floor where the tax revenue could pay for alternative energy infrastructure.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Great hub, Jennifer. Great video, too. I'm part way through An Inconvenient Truth, which showed on the CBC network the other night. I taped it. Another great video, if you can find it is "The Suzuki Dairies" on CBC's The Nature of Things. It's about the author David taking his youngest daughter through Europe to show here the shape of possiblity. Places like Denmark plan to be oil-free by 2020. Of course, they started in '73, after the Arab Oil Embargo and the first big oil/gas shortage. We could have, but we continue to burn it like it'll be there forever. Yikes!

      For examples of a city doing much more with much less see my hub on Curitiba Does the Impossible. Or google Curitiba. It's a city in southern Brazil. Remarkable stuff!

    • Wednesday Morning profile image

      Wednesday Morning 9 years ago

      Great Hub. Gas prices have fluctuated here by as much as 76 cents in the past week. $1.22 last Sunday to $1.98 today. I find that to be far too high of a hike in only a weeks time. Makes it impossible to budget.

    • Wayne Litchford profile image

      Wayne Litchford 9 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I check gas prices in our area several times a week on to find the lowest price. I've noticed from the graph showing cost of oil and price of gas that the price of gas is not affected that much by the cost of oil as much as it used to.

      I think Americans are using less gas and it's demand or the lack thereof is the force that drives the price of gas now.

      Also, since my house faces north, the south always gets the sun. So, in order to decrease the cost of my electric bill, I have a plan to heat water (25% of the electric bill) by installing black vinyl pipe on my roof to capture the heat of the sun.

      Good Hub, as always.