Searching for oil off the coast of America is like "being a sports star or in some kind of battle", says lifelong Shell employee. They drill three miles down, suck up some mud and give it to paleontologist Alvin. He examines the microscropic fossils, "deconstructs time itself" and advises where to drill next. The best bit is when the oil starts flowing and "smells so much like money it's just beautiful".
On 30th August 2005, after Hurricane Katrina had decimated his home city of New Orleans, Alvin personally rescued more than 100 people in his boat. He thinks the devastation and suffering he saw that day is just a taste of what is to come if we continue to "literally burn up" our most valuable resource. "With our use or misuse of resources the last 100 years or so, I’d probably rename this age something like The Age of Ignorance, The Age of Stupid." he says. "If you multiply what happened to a million people living in this area by the billions on this planet... it's gonna be ugly".
"You stare mother nature in the eye, usually she’s fairly benign. I mean it’s hot, it’s almost 100 degrees outside. So what do we do, we’re sitting in here in air conditioning. We adapt, right? Then she comes along methodically, ruthlessly, you know and then she stands toe to toe with you and dares you, dares you. Go ahead, get your best equipment out, go ahead, do it, let’s dance."
"New Orleans has a charm and a magic to it that defies definition. I’m serious, best jazz clubs in the world right here, the best musicians, the best food. What better place to be? Because everybody is the best cook, everybody makes the best gumbo, everybody makes the best beans and rice so you’re in the culture."
"I lost everything. Everything that I owned. Quite literally. Except for my boat. I mean everything from family heirlooms to the paper towels sitting on your kitchen counter. And everything in between. It goes on and on."
"I mean what more of a wake up call do you need? At the very local level all the way through and including the top federal level I just don’t see that awakening, that epiphany in the politicians’ eyes. I don’t see the sense of urgency. And I certainly don’t see movement. A year or so later, after the event, and not a whole lot has changed."
Below is a short intro to Al from an early rough cut of the film.