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VICE Season Two; Episode 8 Review

By Jef Dinsmore on May 10, 2014 to Vice


Overview: As humanity’s appetite for energy grows exponentially, the extraction industry scrambles to the most remote regions on Earth to satisfy demand. In the underdeveloped Melanesian country of Papua New Guinea, America’s Exxon Mobil has staked its claim to a $19 billion liquid natural-gas project expected to start production in late 2014. While some see Exxon’s mammoth presence as the catalyst that will usher the country into the 21st century, others predict the initiative could plunge its people into civil war. VICE heads to Papua New Guinea to investigate the venture and its potential consequences. 

 Over the past three yVICE_Texasears, Texas has experienced the worst drought in its recorded history, a calamity that devastated the state’s agriculture industry and cost it thousands of jobs. While 97% of the scientific community agrees that human activity has contributed to extreme weather patterns around the world, many Texans (legislators, community leaders and citizens) don’t, and have taken few if any initiatives to limit the state’s CO2 emissions, currently the highest in the country visits Texas to witness the climate catastrophe, and discover firsthand the local responses, which often involve reaching out for divine intervention.


 Expectations: Though I was not aware of Exxon Mobil’s presence in the remote and lush land of Papua New Guinea I am not surprised. We as a planet walk a fine line about what to do with the natural resources our planet offers. To keep surviving at the comfort level the modern world demands we feel entitled to harvest whatever resources we need to thrive. Others see us as stewards of a land that needs taken care of and respected for it is the only turf we have. Is big corporate America going in to harvest valuable resources or raping the landscape for a big payoff? At what expense to the indigenous life must this be accomplished? Viewers of this piece may take it one way or the other, but I am pretty sure VICE and its correspondent in the field will see it as a negative encroachment on Mother Earth and I am pretty damn sure I will also. Here is a clip from the first segment.

 As for the Texas drought situation I am sure I am going to come away thinking that I had no idea how serious this situation had become for the Lone Star State. We are all at the mercy of the weather that molds and shapes our atmospheric wrap. As all species must do we have to adapt to the conditions around us. I am curious to see just how extreme the problem has gotten and what strategies are being developed and implemented to lessen the problem. We don’t survive without water.

 I am intrigued quite intently about the topics broached in this episode. Though the political and cultural reports we get from VICE can be thrilling I always have high interest in what happens to our natural world. I hope you are as equally interested.    


Gut Reaction:  Segment number one explains The Resource Curse with correspondent and VICE producer Vikram Gandhi. VICE_PNG

 AAAhhhhHHHHH, it makes me want to scream! All this corporate greed, disrespect, underhandedness and bullshit make me just scream and causes my wife to rush over and ask what is wrong to which I say “Oh, just another frustrating report form VICE getting my blood boiling.” I am refraining from a real heavy rant right about now. What is the point, there is nothing I can do about it. The powerful always take advantage of the weak and poor; the local government boldface lie and say they can do nothing while the main culprit does not even have the balls and the decency to comment at all. I told you this was the side of the story I would take.

 To take a breath and back up let me say when images from Papua New Guinea started surfacing in ads for Season Two I just thought we’d get a cultural story about the indigenous people of the land and have Vikram tell us how they are dwindling in number and resisting the modern world every step of the way. At that time I had no idea the trip would be about civil unrest because of exploitation.

 Silly me to think this was about saving pristine lands. Vikram did comment on the lushness, though that didn’t seem to be the focus here. The real issue was “The Resource Curse.” The real issue was why the locals weren’t reaping any benefit from the attention and money thrown at their country. They were forced to move and/or endure invasion so where was their improved infrastructure. Most seem to genuinely want improvement s to catch them up with most other countries and should have the right to do so. Again, with the way the world works today not that surprising a result, but agitating nonetheless.  Sadly, the people’s escalating fight for their rights seems futile.  My eyes will certainly be focusing on any news out of this country with more interest from now on and I’m sure I will have plenty more screams to release on the matter. Thanks for bringing it all to light for me VICE.    


My first thought on Deliver Us from Drought by correspondent Thomas Morton was actually sparked by the introduction given by Shane Smith. I wish I could insert a video clip of just those few sentences to offer clarity to the statement I’m about to make – Texans are stupid!

 I can’t let that go. I am going to watch that intro again and go back and forth until I translate part of it into text here. First, Shane explains that California has faced a drought situation and Gov. Brown and his team has taken steps to lessen the severity of the problem by becoming greener and more pollutant free, etc. while Texas and Gov. Perry has done nothing to help their state which faces worse conditions than the Golden State.  Quoting Shane Smith now he says, “It would appear that many in Texas’ leadership are doing very little to combat the drought and actually disagreeing with many in the scientific community that climate change is even real. So we are send correspondent Thomas Morton into the state with the highest CO2 emissions in the country to see just how bad it has to get before they will take any action.”

 Again I say, Texans are stupid, at least in this regard. I realize not everyone is convinced that climate change is solely or largely brought on by the actions of mankind. But, regardless of whether you are aware or acknowledge the source of a problem or not shouldn’t you take some kind VICE_GovPerryof action towards working on the problem anyway? Texas appears to be doing nothing! The only water of any significant amount is controlled by the oil industry. And to complicate matters religion has to have a hand in all this as well. So, I just slammed Texans and now I am going to slam religion because their only solution is just to pray – man, how well is that plan of attack working out for you!        

 You know, out of all the reports I have seen from VICE on HBO or elsewhere there has always been those standing up against the odds. New Guineans are doing it, women in India and rebels here and there are doing it. There is Arab Uprising and Occupy Wall Street, etc, doing it…and then there is Texas. Unless VICE is skewing this report than it appears Texas is not doing anything but praying for rain. How about at least getting the Native Americans to do a rain dance or something?  


In Conclusion: This episode left me screaming out loud at first followed by just being flummoxed (right word?) or stymied by its end. What a ride. No easy solution to either story is at hand. In hopes of bettering itself Papua New Guinea has let big corporations in to fleece them and run and I had no idea poor Texas was in a stupor over its dilemma will no real plan of action insight. Both locales visited are clueless to what happens next and that is scary for them. Good luck!

 VICE Episode 8 also airs on 05.10 at 2:15am; 05.13 at 11:30pm and 05.15 at 12:30am on HBO. Find it on HBO2 on 05.10 at 8:00pm, 05.11 at 6:00pm and 05.14 at 2:45am or find it at a time convenient for you at HBOGo.    

 Maybe, the VICE Debrief can shed a bit more light on both of these reports. Shall we check them out?  


The best question is the last one answered by Vikram, and an awful tall order to fill. The notion to just instill honest government officials seems so hard to accomplish. It also seems hard to convince Texas conservatives of anything other than they believe. Plus, we get personal dirt on Thomas; he was raised Methodist.  

A usual we head out with a sneak peek at the next episode. Peace.

  • standardwilly

    I find it surprising that the show never mentioned Texas’ earlier droughts, some of which were more severe and/or lasted longer than this one as, like the one from 1950-57. There were very severe droughts in 1917 and 1961-66. These droughts reflect pacific ocean El Nino/Nina patterns which have always been cyclical. Instead, the show relies on local reactions and religious justifications to sensationalize a recurring scientific phenomenon.

    • Jef Dinsmore

      That is the crux of the debate right there. Some believe that climate change is decimating the planet and the other side of the issue states that it is just long-term cyclical events coming back around; and yet another party believes it to be a combination of both factors. It all depends on what views you take.

      The Texans featured here seem to side with the second notion and are praying the cycle ends soon. Will it?

      • standardwilly

        If history is any guide, then yes it will. Will HBO then do a followup piece on how the drought turned out to be based on natural cycles after all?

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