Josh Tickell: The Journey Of the Man Behind “Fuel”
The high levels of wealth we created in many countries in the past 150 years, were made possible by the industrial revolution, the historical point that ignited the beginning of a new era. Boosted by non-renewable resources (fossil fuels), some economies started using oil and coal as a driving force to a higher quality of life. In course, our dependence on oil became so central and the value of it so high, that we called it “black gold”.
Like most people know, oil in its raw state takes millions of years to be created. Since industrialization, we started using oil reserves that were in the underground for a huge amount of time. And, although there is no consensus about when oil reserves will end, we know for certain that they are limited.
The problem is not only economical, but also environmental. By the end of the 20th century it became clear that our massive use of fossil fuels puts the earth on the verge of climate disaster and causes huge pollution. According to the CIA World Factbook for example, Saudi Arabia produces a total amount of crude oil that surpasses 11 million barrels/day.
What Is “Fuel” by Josh Tickell All About?
Aiming to translate the numbers into real consequences, the American film director, Josh Tickell, became an eco-evangelist and developed a documentary about the oil industry. The documentary is called “Fuel” and gives us an historical view, together with Tickell’s personal experience.
“Fuel” took 11 years of filming and was finally released in 2008. The relevance of the subject and the personal way of telling the facts explain why the documentary was a success. The film has been done with the collaboration of several famous activists and was awared important prizes, like the Audience Award from Sundance Film Festival and the Gaia for the Best Documentary of that year.
Along with some of the biggest names in education, environmentalism and policy makers, Josh Tickell interviewed recognized actors and musicians, like Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Images of the Hurricane Katrina were used as an anchor to show the imminence of a catastrophic climate scenario. The lively soundtrack used to illustrate a fast evolving phenomenon was congratulated by critics.
Even though the documentary shows the catastrophic (and realistic) scenario of Katrina, the script (written by Josh Tickell and Johny O’Hara) is more inspirational than fatalistic. And renewable energy is presented as the solution for conflicts, social and economical problems.
In short, the mission of “Fuel” is to present us the advantages of taking a sustainable path. Instead of looking at global warning as an imminent and unavoidable apocalypse, Tickell gives us hope by showing the means that we should use to reinstate earth’s natural balance.
Josh Tickell’s Personal History
“Fuel” was the result of Josh Tickell personal experience. To the ones who do not know, the director comes from a town in Louisiana, where the oil industry was responsible for the highest rate of cancer in the United States. “Do I tell people the truth? That I have grown up to hate fuel companies?”, he asked.
His own mother died of cancer when he was just a child. For that fact, “Fuel” is also a reflexive journey into Tickell’s past: a way to communicate his deepest feelings, while creating a positive message to the world.
Josh Tickell spends much time travelling and spreading his message. During the 11 years of filming, he had the opportunity to initiate several green initiatives, that were later included in the film. As long as he remembers, the director has dedicated his life to green awareness and environmental causes, supporting sustainable alternatives.