Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last Call at the Oasis (Rhoades)

“Last Call at the Oasis”
Doesn’t Come Up Dry

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Thirsty? You may be.
Did you realize that although water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and is vital for all known forms of life, less than 3 percent is drinkable? And barely a third of that is accessible.
Only 0.3 percent of all fresh water is found in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere. And much of that is polluted by dirt, chemicals, and waste. Even today, over one billion people worldwide lack access to safe water.
The documentary “Last Call at the Oasis” dramatizes a coming crisis – the global shortage of clean water.
This film by Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu (“Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien”) offers insights into the coming water crisis from scientists, policymakers, activists, and environmentalists.
Yu has directed such entertaining TV shows as “ER,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “The West Wing,” but here the filmmaker gets more serious as she examines the looming global water crisis and what we can do to avoid it.
Academy Award-nominated producer Elise Pearlstein (“Food, Inc.”) joins forces with Yu to point out the vital role water plays in our lives and expose the defects in the current system.
Based upon Alex Prud’homme’s book “The Ripple effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century,” it asks the worrisome question: Will there be enough drinkable water to satisfy future demand?
You will see communities that are already struggling with water problems. On hand is activist Erin Brockovich-Ellis to help examine the issues. You’ll remember Erin Brockovich from the same-named movie starring Julia Roberts as the woman who brought down a California power company that was causing illness in a small community by polluting the water.
Others in “Last Call at the Oasis” includes such experts as Peter Gleick, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon. Author Alex Prud'homme, of course, is here too.
Many of them are championing revolutionary solutions.
“The film is not about a bad guy,” says Jessica Yu. “These industries are representative of a system that lets these things happen. We give the benefit of the doubt to industry.”
Even so, some companies have challenged the film. According to Syngenta,  “The film gets key facts wrong about atrazine, a herbicide that is not only safe, but actually protects clean water and saves land from cultivation.”
“For corporations, farmers, and anyone who just wants unvarnished facts without apocalyptic prophecy, it’s a mixed bag,” says Richard Levick of Forbes Magazine.
Nonetheless Levick says, “It is reassuring that the film is not just another tendentious assault on the evils of vested power…”
Yu’s film gives many facts about how we can save the water supply before it’s too late. And it raises the specter: Will the wars of the twenty-first century be fought over water instead of oil?

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