Josh Tickell is one of the nation’s leading experts on clean energy, and his life’s work has been a decade-long investigation into breaking America from a seemingly insurmountable addiction to oil. His latest documentary, Fuel, is already generating buzz in a big way: Oscar nominations coupled with an upcoming 50-city tour.
E Magazine: How did you evolve from a curious film student at Florida State University into an expert on alternative fuels?
Josh Tickell: There are so many solutions, and I first saw those solutions in Europe. Biodiesel was one of them, but I also saw wind and solar technologies. It was so obvious to me as a college student that there were alternatives out there.
E: Have politics played a role in your campaign? Do you hope to change people’s attitudes toward oil?
JT: I don’t have a political agenda. However, the result of taking petroleum out of politics will be a return to a true form of democracy. How can you have a democracy when the most popular thing, the thing people need [in order] to live, is being controlled by a very small group of people?
E: What do you envision to be the future of our global environment and the American economy if the government continues to pursue shortsighted energy policies?
JT: People often divorce energy from money, but in reality they are linked at the core. Money is a quantification of energy. If we do not move on biofuels, the U.S. dollar will undergo hyperinflation. That will be inevitable result of not moving away from petro-dollars.
E: How can the public be assured that sustainable energy will benefit them economically?
JT: We need to expand the conversation in America from the price at pump to the price in our lives. Right now, our economy is crumbling and people see a cheap pump price, so they don’t make a connection between oil and the economy. Right before the economy crumbled, oil was at over $100 dollars a barrel, and it forced industries into debt. Because the whole economy runs on petro-dollars, we can’t run our economy at the speed we want to run it. This is a situation of physically not having enough oil to run our machine
every time we step on the gas pedal of America. Green energy is the only choice for long-term freedom and sustainability.
E: Has your film been a catalyst for the green energy movement?
JT: We are working on getting the film out to a thousand theaters. So by the time this article is published, Fuel will be at a theater near you. Beyond that, the film will go to television and will be available on DVD. [In addition], our nonprofit organization is making a 45-minute cut of the film [in a free viewing] for middle schools and high schools.We anticipate that 25 million American kids will see the film by the end of the year.