SKOWHEGAN — Iver Lofving is a Peak Oil evangelist.

That’s according to documentary filmmaker Nelson Cole, who is wrapping up production of his film “Peak Oil: A Love Story,” about Lofving and his evolving theory that when the Earth’s petroleum supplies reach their zenith – the peak of oil production – the eventual collapse of civilization will not be far behind.

Or maybe not.

Maybe the decline of oil production spells the retreat of climate change and the beginning of new, cleaner ways to live, Lofving says.

Cole said the film is a love story despite the possible doom of the message, because Lofving is so fixed on the concept of peak oil that he is in love with it.

“He’s not a negative person. He’s not a negative guy living alone in the woods who’s pessimistic at all. He’s very positive and outgoing, and entertaining and intelligent,” said Cole, 49. “I wanted to capture some of the fun of Iver so I thought the title would represent that, too.”

Lofving, 57, says that peak oil “is actually the only thing that’s going to save us from climate change.”

“We have to do an 80 percent reduction in fossil fuels by 2020. What are the chances of that? Very slim,” he said in an interview. “So we’re going to be forced to go down this slide of the energy we have available. We’re going to be forced to use less, and by using less we’re going to have a cooler planet.”

As long as the world keeps extracting oil in the millions of barrels per day, it is only common sense that one day the Earth will reach a point where extraction starts to decline, for better or worse, Lofving said.

Home heating, electricity, transportation, cosmetics, medicines – even plastic bags – all rely on oil. People will have to learn to live in a much simpler way in the future in order to survive, he said.

Lofving said once the movie is finished “it’s going to be fun.”

“It’s not going to be this ‘bomb you with statistics.’ It’s going to be more about a person and his obsession with the peak oil thing,” he said. “I’ve been dying to tell people about this, so it’s really fun to have a movie made about the message. I just want to get people thinking.”

PREPARED FOR FUTURE

“I’m preparing for something like that future,” said Lofving, an art teacher at Skowhegan Area High School. “We have to be more resilient, just getting yourself more prepared.”

Over the years, Lofving, who has a master’s degree in education, has softened his view of the results of peak oil. It might be a love story, after all.

“Isn’t it weird that oil prices were recently at record highs but now have collapsed?” Cole writes in his campaign for film funding. “And what’s up with Oklahoma having earthquakes likely from oil fracking? What’s going on? Ask Iver. He knows. Peak oil explains everything.”

Lofving says fracking will work as long as oil is at $100 a barrel. Otherwise it doesn’t pay for itself. The price of crude oil Friday was $34.57.

Cole, who lives in the Somerset County town of Cambridge, has been following Lofving around with his camera for about 10 years, interviewing people that know Lofving and share his philosophy on environmental issues. His production company is called New Farmer Films.

The final cut of “Peak Oil: A Love Story” could be an hour to 90 minutes in length, and Cole expects it to be ready by midsummer. He said he has shot 60 or 70 hours of film that has to be edited down before the film is released.

“I would like to see the progression of his thinking a little bit,” he said of Lofving and the evolution of his philosophy from doom to bloom. “Now he’s a little bit more positive than he was because he’s talking about peak oil going to possibly save us from climate change, whereas before it was a pretty darker future.”

Lofving agreed, noting that lower oil prices globally could herald the end of the capitalist monopoly on power. If the price of oil remains low, Lofving said, then there is no incentive to drill for more and society turns its eyes to greener sources of energy such as solar, wind and water power. As long as there is a price on something, someone will find a way to produce it, Lofving said.

Lofving, who drives an electric car in the summer and heats his home with wood and his water with solar panels, said maybe we’ve already reached peak oil.

WORLD VIEW

Some say oil production peaked in the 1970s. Lofving thinks peak oil came last July. Others say new ways of extracting oil from the ground – hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – will keep oil alive indefinitely.

The whole peak oil thing for Lofving began more than a decade ago with 10 or 15 like-minded people who were concerned about the environment. They were inspired by “The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream,” a movie by Gregory Greene that discusses the dwindling supply of cheap energy, fossil fuels and its effect on society.

That group merged with another group in Waterville, 350 Central Maine, part of the global climate movement. Another outgrowth is the group Transition Skowhegan, which works to increase independence through local food and fuel.

Peak oil is a prism through which Lofving sees the world, Cole said.

“In the movie we’re going to see interviews with Iver, his family, his friends, the people who know him and members of the peak oil group,” Cole said. “I’m showing him going to the Common Ground Fair. I’m showing him in an electric car, on an electric bike and putting in LED lights in his house. I’ve got hours of him (maple) sugaring. He doesn’t just talk, he seems to walk the walk.”

“He once thought that peak oil would be the end of us, but now he thinks it’s the only thing that will save us. I think in some way that peak oil is a religion for Iver, that it explains the world for him and in a way comforts him.”