This documentary is a mess. Not only is it technically slopped together with poor pacing, a self-righteous Michael Moore-styled autobiography – Fuel is not informative. It spends 80% of its time telling us, what most people already know, we are running out of fossil fuel. It would’ve been informative, if it had been released ten years ago, except that it was released in 2008.
The rest of the documentary is spent on the main “solution” – bio-fuels. Approximately 90% of bio-fuels in the U.S. come from soy. It takes roughly ten acres of soy to grow enough bio-fuel to power the average car each year. There are roughly 250 million cars on the road in the U.S. To power these with soy bio-fuels, we would need 2.5 billion acres to grow the soy. We have only 300 million acres in cropland in the U.S, most of which is used to feed us. Where will we get 2.5 billion acres to grow fuel for your car? Answer: Take away our wild lands and aquatic ecosystems from all the pesticide and nutrient runoff from these soy fields. What this film attempts to do is take a very real environmental problem – global warming, and convince environmentally-minded people to do the absolute worst thing they could possibly do for the planet in response. Every time you choose virgin bio-fuel (i.e, bio-fuel from crops, rather than waste products) for your transportation needs you are literally killing the planet. We’re much better off using petroleum in efficient hybrid cars and keeping forests for carbon sequestration than going with bio-fuels.
I recommend this documentary to elementary students who don’t already know we have an oil shortage. More specifically, kindergartners who need naps. A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash or Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers is more worth your time watching.