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Get the Facts Behind The Frack! Follow LinkTV Journalist Jeff Barbee from America's Gas fields to the Karoo Desert of South Africa Read more
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Get the Facts Behind The Frack! Follow LinkTV Journalist Jeff Barbee from America's Gas fields to the Karoo Desert of South Africa

Jeffrey Barbee
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Jeffrey Barbee

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About this project

The High Cost of Cheap Gas

A 55 Minute Documentary Film Project By Link-TV Journalist Jeffrey Barbee

Check out the short film on LinkTV and help make a longer, more investigative film by funding this campaign and become a part of our team.

Natural gas development is coming to the Karoo desert, one of the most pristine and diverse environments on Earth. Big international businesses are selling this development as a safe and clean job creation opportunity under the guise of addressing unemployment. 

In Southern Africa the debate around natural gas development is not yet informed by the latest science “leaking” from the gas fields of America. This film follows the  hard lessons learned from a critical assessment of gas developments in the US, informing the Southern African response to this investment and contributing to the debate everywhere these developments are being proposed.

"There are few journalists as knowledgeable about the environment in Southern Africa and beyond as Jeffrey Barbee. Having worked with him for over a decade in many different parts of the world, I have witnessed his commitment and professionalism to this subject. He combines his skills as photographer, videographer and storyteller with expertise and a curiosity to know more.''  -Bram Vermeulen Correspondent, NOS TV Holland

A Note From Jeffrey Barbee:

Hi Kickstarter Readers,

This film is for everyone concerned about natural resources like the air, water and soil we depend on for our survival. It is for voters, activists, gas drillers, decision makers and communities who are facing natural gas extraction around the world.  It is for everyone who is concerned about their own and their children’s health and future.

This project takes a clear and critical look at the gas industry in the United States, providing a crucial perspective to the debate around the proposed gas development in Southern Africa. Scientists and researchers are revealing that the explosion of the gas industry with horizontal fracturing in the US has come at the expense of people’s health and the environment. The promised economic prospects and growth were often un-sustained.  A  country like South Africa, marked by high unemployment and poverty, needs the knowledge in this film to avoid the same mistakes that were made in the US.

Knowledge is power, and today through portals like Kickstarter, the people consuming the media have the chance to be in charge of its creation. 

Become a commissioning editor or a backer and be part of the creation of this project. Never before has the media had to answer so directly to the people we create these pieces for, and that is an exciting part of launching this type of project.

The oil and gas industry has almost unlimited resources to spread misinformation and suppress unbiased and critical reporting. The shortage of money in the independent media makes it hard to counteract these reports, but also offers this unique opportunity to be directly involved in cutting through the propaganda.

Do you care about gas drilling?  Do you want to know the latest and most pertinent information? Then join our team.  As a sponsor you can make your voice heard. We keep you up to date in our online community forum with reports from the field, cutting edge research, poignant stories and behind the scenes photographs delivered directly to you.  This project is for you and everyone out there who needs this information to make informed decisions about our common future.  

The resounding question that this story seeks to uncover; what is the real cost of “cheap” gas, both now and for the generations to come?

Thank You,
Jeffrey Barbee, Johannesburg March 4, 2013

Important Links:

The Website for this film

Jeffrey Barbee's CV

Creating A Climate For Change, the award winning documentary made in 2012 by the team.

Jeffrey Barbee's work with Global Post

Jeffrey Barbee's work with the New York Times

Jeffrey Barbee's work with LinkTV

Mt Mabu -Undiscovered Mountain Gives up It's Secrets for PBS

What Will Be Produced?

Filmed in high definition with professional time lapse photography, stunning aerial imagery and haunting original music by the band Rusted Root, this is a tour-de force of striking visuals, lessons and adventure. The story follows the journalist across the landscapes of two far away continents of the planet with many similarities.   Interviewing scientists, researchers, communities and industry we give you a front row seat to this ongoing debate. 

The goal of this multimedia project is to create two stand-alone video reports: One of 10 minutes for news reports and web-based media, and a full feature film of 55 minutes for the television, festival, feature and documentary markets.  A series of three written articles with a 50-image reportage will be created for the print and internet-news market that can be seen on tablets and cellphones as well. The more money we raise, the better the film will be and the more places we will be able to get it seen.

Karoo rivers like this one near Sutherland flow for only a few days a year.  It is the groundwater that scientists are worried about, because of rock intrusions called dykes in the shale that make pollution by drilling chemicals much more likely.
Karoo rivers like this one near Sutherland flow for only a few days a year. It is the groundwater that scientists are worried about, because of rock intrusions called dykes in the shale that make pollution by drilling chemicals much more likely.

More Information:

The science from America finds that this alleged green energy solution is much more dangerous than previously thought. The products used in gas production are proven to have adverse health and environmental affects, polluting air and water with carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals and contributing to climate change. The film also investigates the social and cultural impacts the gas industry has had in Western Colorado, the original home of the producer/director.

In the narrative the American example provides the "after picture", a lesson of what is to come if South Africa allows gas development to go ahead as uninhibited as it has in the US.  This film also brings the "before picture" to the world: the communities and landscapes that depend on the Karoo for their existence and future survival.

Extractive industries in South Africa do not enjoy a legacy of environmental stewardship.  Poor communities disproportionally pay the price for this polluting past, from acid mine drainage to uncovered asbestos mines. A process like fracking that pollutes millions of gallons of water also has to be understood in the political context where communities continuously and violently demonstrate for the delivery of the most basic of services such as access to water and sanitation. Natural gas extraction seen through the lens of water rights, human rights and environmental costs paints a drastically different picture than the one being sold by the industry. 

Sustainable economic opportunities are threatened by natural gas extraction in South Africa. One example is the planned Square Kilometer Array - the world’s largest radio telescope. The telescope will employ thousands of people for decades and sits right inside a large drilling concession, so it is directly affected by this proposed plan.  The tourism industry and agriculture  are threatened as well.

Filming time lapse imagery at the Square Kilometer Array site near Carnarvon in the Karoo.  Some fear the project, which will be the biggest telescope in the world, is in danger from the proposed natural gas development.
Filming time lapse imagery at the Square Kilometer Array site near Carnarvon in the Karoo. Some fear the project, which will be the biggest telescope in the world, is in danger from the proposed natural gas development.

Risks and challenges

A project of this scale comes with challenges. Challenges like getting special access and interviews, getting the right translators and employing the hard-core bush-craft needed to traverse the wide open deserts of Southern Africa.
The team also addresses the socio-economic questions and issues like how does human rights law inform environmental policy, and how is the right to water impacted by natural gas development? Other more obvious challenges in documentary making these days are the biggest of all; if people fund it, will the film get seen and broadcast around the world on television and the internet after it is done?

Addressing these questions and challenges does require specialist skills and our qualified team addresses all of these issues.

Producer/director Jeffrey Barbee has been living and working in Africa for the last 17 years. Originally working in photojournalism he has successfully completed assignments in dozens of countries for the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, The UK Guardian, Vanity Fair, NOS TV, Global Post, LinkTV, The Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting, and many others. Working on a story like this and dealing with its challenges is nothing new to Barbee.

Mira Dutschke is the researcher for the film and has a master’s degree in Human Rights Law and 10 years of research experience in South Africa, Northern Ireland and the United States. Her focus is on the research, advocacy and enforcement of social, economic and cultural rights. She is a part-time lecturer at the University of Cape Town, teaching human rights and advocacy for the Masters in Child and Maternal Health. Her work has been published in books by Routledge and Sweet & Maxwell publishers as well as in peer-reviewed journals such as the South African Journal of Human Rights; the European Human Rights Law Review; the Economic and Social Rights Review; and the International Journal of Social Work.

Dutschke and Barbee produced the award winning film Creating A Climate For Change, a documentary with worldwide release about how Africa can help inform and educate the world in it's response to Climate Change. The film illustrates the team's capability to deliver high-quality reporting on social and environmental topics in difficult areas and get it seen by millions of people. Link TV, with 6.7 million USA viewers, is a broadcast partner for Creating A Climate For Change, and released it in prime-time in January, 2013.

LinkTV is also a broadcast partner for this film, The High Cost Of Cheap Gas. Global Post, The Mail and Guardian and other news websites will run the film, photos, blog and stories on their websites and in print.

With our expert team, our experience, our distribution system, our professional connections and the help of supporters like you from right here on Kickstarter, this film will become the successful project we hope it to be. The more money we get, the better the film will be, it is as simple as that. We are initially looking for 22,000 dollars to push this ongoing project to completion, but more will make it the great film we know it can be.

Only through stories like this can people make real choices that will leave this planet a better place for future generations.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more
    About $10 USD

    9 backers

    Be a backer and you get on our mailing list, covering this and many other exciting projects around the world through our affiliated group Alliance Earth. Enjoy films, reports, tweets and more about pressing environmental topics.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more
    About $25 USD

    27 backers

    Be a part of this project, and get named in the credit reel as a backer. Want to know everything about how what where and why fracking will be used in the Karoo?...pledge us 25$s and you will get all the information you need to create an informed opinion as well as an electronic copy of the film when it is done with a special thank you from journalist Jeffrey Barbee. You also get updates and photos about the project as it unfolds, and suggestions for how you can get personally involved in the project. This pledge allows you to suggest stories and order material for learning projects at schools or local film showings. You will also be kept "in the loop" with behind the scenes photos and and limited release Broll footage with stories as the film unfolds.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    17 backers Limited (983 left of 1000)

    All of the above, as well as a hard-copy of the film with a slide show of behind the scenes footage, a signed postcard from the road with a personal note of thanks from journalist Jeffrey Barbee and a bumper sticker.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more
    About $500 USD

    0 backers Limited (500 left of 500)

    All of the above as well as a single numbered (1/500) and signed project photograph from Jeffrey Barbee's pictures from the project images, shipped anywhere in the world, as well as a credit in the film as a commissioning editor.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more
    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers Limited (15 left of 15)

    A signed, limited edition (1 of 15) A2 sized photograph on archival paper chosen by the giver from the 100-image selection of photos from the project by acclaimed photojournalist Jeffrey Barbee, delivered anywhere in the world, a note of thanks from the Producer/Director, and and an assiciate producer credit, and all of the above as well.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000
    About $10,000 USD

    0 backers

    The donor receives all of the above plus an invitation to join the team in the field for a real-life film shoot of between 2 and 5 days on an exciting Alliance Earth reporting project. Donor funds their trip to the work site, but is invited to get involved personally in the project, observe the team working and participate in the expedition as team member. They also get a credit as an executive producer in the beginning film credits.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)