Over a barrel



– 25-Aug-2008
Surging oil prices feed widespread panic and apocalyptic visions of a world without fuel. But it is not obvious whether speculation, rising demand or supply shortages are to blame. Daniel Ben-Ami examines the debate. “To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by the black fuel. And the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men.””On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed.”

Mad Max 2, the 1981 movie starring Mel Gibson, was based on a post-apocalyptic vision of a world with little oil. At the start the narrator described how a world based on oil usage had gone to war and collapsed. The film itself is centered on a besieged community, living by an oil well, surrounded by murderous renegades. The scenario, written by George Miller, was conceived in response to the oil crisis of the mid-1970s.


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