Husband and wife filmmaking team Rebecca and Josh Tickell are winning over skeptical audiences across the country and sending a powerful message to decision makers in Washington about the urgent need to end America’s destructive addiction to imported oil by embracing homegrown biofuels, especially ethanol.
Of course, it helps to have a retired four star general and former NATO commander on your side.
Last Wednesday the Sundance Award-winning producers of the movie “Fuel” rolled into Washington, D.C. on the final stop of their 40-city bus tour to promote their new film, “Freedom,” about an American biofuels revolution to replace oil with ethanol. General Wesley Clark joined the filmmakers at an afternoon press conference in Georgetown and later that night at a post-screening discussion held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The bus is powered by an E85 ethanol fuel blend (85% ethanol) and solar panels.
“I’m a big believer in ethanol,” said Clark. “Biofuels are our technology. It keeps money and jobs inside of America, reduces greenhouse gases and reduces gas prices.”
Clark said he “can’t help but become a missionary” for investing in and producing American-made biofuels. He said he will do everything in his power to raise public appreciation of this issue and inject it into the 2012 presidential campaign because “it’s absolutely vital to the future of America.”
And Clark backs up his assertions with astounding statistics about the catastrophic consequences of our addiction to oil.
$300 billion: The amount of money we pay annually to import oil. That’s $1,000 per every man, woman and child in America that is subtracted right from our GDP. That’s in addition to the $150 billion a year we pay to secure foreign oil resources. In a decade that $300 billion adds up to $3 trillion and $1 trillion in tax revenue if it was instead invested domestically.
8 million: The American jobs that would be created every year if we stopped paying $300 billion to import oil and instead re-circulated that money into the American economy.
6,000: The estimated number of U.S. combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
35,000: The estimated number of wounded soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
$1.5 trillion: The amount of money spent and committed to fighting these two wars.
$2 trillion: VA expenses we will pay for these wounded soldiers for the rest of their lives.
For the Tickells, ending our oil addiction and embracing biofuels is not just about number crunching, it is personal. While filming another movie called “The Big Fix” about the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster, oil got into Rebecca’s skin and made her seriously sick. She now must avoid direct sunlight for the rest of her life thanks to her exposure to oil. And yet, she and her husband remain hopeful despite the seemingly insurmountable odds against the largest industry in the world.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a more clear delineation of the two futures that we have before us as Americans,” said Josh Tickell in his closing remarks. “One of those futures is the future in which because we are a country that has so far passed peak oil, we are so desperate for liquid energy, that we are willing to sacrifice the sanctity of the future of our country. It will leave this nation scarred and forever altered.
The other future has to do with using processes that mimic nature. What we found in making this movie is that the ethanol industry is imperfect. But it’s here now and it’s a start. And if we follow that climb forward into the future what we will eventually see is hemp and algae (and other second generation biofuels).
But if we do nothing, which is largely what we are doing now as a nation, largely what Washington, D.C. is doing right now, we can expect a future that is a nightmare. So we can’t do the same thing and expect different results. We are going to have to change our behavior. We are going to have to change our laws. And it is uncomfortable to some degree because we are going to have to give way on some of the environmental purism that we’ve had and that’s a big challenge. But the challenge and the choice is yours, and when you have true choice you have freedom.”