What's wrong with deep sea oil?

The part oil has played in modern human history, how oil can’t have any part in our future, if there’s to be one … and what the alternative is.

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The problem

Our hundred year reliance on oil is at a turning point. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put the spotlight on the far reaching consequences that our addiction to oil is having on the natural world and on the climate.

Today, oil is being used to power most of our vehicles, making us all dependent on it in some way - to get our food, to see our loved ones or to go on holiday. There are millions of cars, buses, trucks, ships and planes moving around our cities, our country, oceans and skies, connecting people and moving stuff around the world. But all of these vehicles need millions of gallons of oil to keep them going every day. And that’s taking a toll on the air we breathe, on our energy security, our economy, the environment and our climate.

But the giant oil fields that the industry hoped would last forever are starting to run dry. Faced with increasing restraints on access to the easy oil, companies are pushing in to areas previously considered too inaccessible, expensive or too risky to exploit. And this means going to greater and greater extremes to squeeze the last drops of oil from the earth - scraping the barrel in the tar sands of Canada, potentially violating the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic and now the pristine coastlines of New Zealand

This map shows current and proposed areas of oil exploration, drilling, and coal mining, and the climate-changing potential of those coal deposits. *The size of the oil deposits – and so the amount of potential CO2 emissions - within the new permit areas and block offers is not yet known.

If these places are exploited, and the oil burnt, we will be on track for a six degree rise in global average temperatures. Two degrees is generally accepted by scientists and governments as the tipping point of dangerous climate change. Scientists say a rise of six degrees in average global temperatures would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the planet and threaten our very survival. This is the path we are on right now. But if we transform our transport and energy systems this doesn’t have to be the pathway we follow.

At the moment, millions of dollars of our money is going into subsidising risky oil, and keeping us stuck in the oil age. Our governments are propping up the oil companies with tax breaks and subsidies, and they’re allowing oil companies to exploit our natural world. In the long run, our addiction to oil will cost us far more.

If we do nothing, climate change will cost us around 20% of total gross domestic product (GDP) over the next half century. That's more than the cost of both world wars and the great depression put together. But if we act now to mitigate it, the cost would only be about one per cent of total economic growth. That's the same amount of money we spend on global advertising. Surely our survival is more important than billboards and TV adverts.

The latest updates

 

Lego and Shell - FAQs

Blog entry by Sondhya Gupta | July 2, 2014

What has Lego got to do with the Arctic? Lego has a longstanding relationship with Shell, with plans to renew its deal later this year. Shell wants to drill for oil in the Arctic. The only reason they’re able to do this is...

How tiny plastic people protested around the world

Blog entry by Jamie Woolley | July 2, 2014

The news of LEGO's cosy relationship with Shell has led to tiny protests erupting around the country - nay, the world. Famous national and international landmarks have been festooned with banners as the streets resounded the stamp of...

It's time for LEGO to block Shell

Blog entry by Ian Duff | July 1, 2014

Imagine you're eight years old and picture the Arctic. There are no oil rigs, no industrial shipping and no politicians fighting over it. It's just an endless sparkling expanse of sea and ice, populated by brave scientific explorers...

Norway's inconvenient truth

Blog entry by Martin Norman | June 16, 2014

Norway is known to be a beautiful country, with a long coastline, ranging mountains and lush forests. We are generally tolerant people, with a strong sense of right and wrong. We believe in peace. And we believe in nature. So when...

How big oil tries to win us over using stealth tactics

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | June 13, 2014

What does it take to run a successful, modern oil company? You'd be forgiven for thinking it's just drills, pipelines, and lawyers. But there's an even more crucial element - the trust and approval of people like you and me. One...

Is there a future for Greenland without Arctic oil?

Blog entry by Jon Burgwald | March 17, 2014

For the past four years I've been visiting the beautiful country of Greenland, trying to prevent dangerous oil drilling that would cause havoc to the unique and fragile wildlife and nature here. But ever since I started working in...

Don't bet on coal and oil growth

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | January 28, 2014

A mind-boggling sum of about $800  for each person on the planet  is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10% of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of...

"Where our leaders fail us..." - The folly of fossil fools

Blog entry by Nathan Argent | November 13, 2013

This week, a flotilla of yachts will be leaving our shores and heading out to the deep waters off the coast of Raglan. Their purpose: to protest at Texan oil giant Anadarko’s plans to drill an exploratory well in our backyard. This...

New Zealand Oil Spill Report

Publication | October 23, 2013 at 0:01

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico highlighted the wide-scale impacts that can be caused by a catastrophic deep sea well failure.

A letter of thanks from David Haussmann detained in Russia for a peaceful protest

Blog entry by Nick Young | October 17, 2013

David 'Haussy' Haussmann is one of the 'Arctic 30' detained in Russia and charged with piracy for a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling. Below is a letter from David to everyone who's supported him over the past 28 days: ...

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