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

 

It's time to separate the sponsor from the sport

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | August 26, 2013

Much like the movement to save the Arctic, Grand Prix fans are made up of all sorts of people. I would know — I was a big fan of the sport growing up. Is it possible that a lifelong environmental and social justice activist can harbor...

Insane PR circus rocks Holland... but it's not that polar bear thing

Blog entry by James Turner | August 24, 2013

"Accidents are as inevitable as breath. There is only one way to fully avoid accidents, and that is to die. When you are dead, no accidents." --  Timur Grigoluk , Polar Partners. The art of public relations is difficult, especially...

Our blackened boots expose the truth in the Russian Arctic

Blog entry by Zhenya Belyakova | June 11, 2013

Right now I am in the Russian Arctic as part of a Greenpeace factfinding mission. We are near a town called Pyt'-Yah, in the Khanty-Mansi region of Siberia, which is surrounded by Rosneft oil fields, the largest public oil company in...

Oil slick politics

Blog entry by Nathan Argent | June 7, 2013

Last week, documents released to the Labour Party revealed that Government Ministers Steven Joyce and Simon Bridges had met with oil giant Shell to thrash out a back-room deal to criminalise protesting at sea. There’s nothing new...

Russian Indigenous communities clean up Rusvietpetro’s oil spill as company does nothing

Blog entry by Laura Kenyon | June 5, 2013

On May 26, oil began flowing down the Kolva River through Komi Indigenous land in Northern Russia. For a week now the oil has been coating the river and building up on the banks, with no reaction from Rusvietpetro, the joint venture...

When is inevitable not inevitable?

Blog entry by Charlie Kronick | April 13, 2013

The end of 2012 and first months of 2013 have seen a remarkable change in the fight to protect the Arctic from risky and dangerous oil exploration.    Three oil “majors” –   Total , Statoil  and  Conoco-Phillips  - have withdrawn from...

One month until Arctic gatherings in 32 countries

Blog entry by mmcnicol | March 22, 2013

While 16 of our colleagues and friends gear up for an epic journey to the North Pole next month, volunteers and activists around the world are preparing to take the Arctic to their communities and politicians. Thousands of people...

Shell abandons 2013 Arctic drilling: Timeline of Greenpeace’s Shell campaign

Blog entry by C Sharp | February 28, 2013

For those of you who missed any of the drama from Shell’s season in the Arctic, the finale revealed-SPOILER ALERT-that 2013 Arctic drilling is a no go. While Greenpeace welcomes this news with a “hip hip hooray”, it’s not a huge...

We did it for the future

Blog entry by Lucy Lawless | February 7, 2013

It's almost a year since we climbed the Shell-contracted drilling rig, Noble Discoverer.  Landing on the pier that day we felt dwarfed by the vast 53 meter drill tower that sat atop this rusting hulk which Shell was to use to pioneer...

Oh Council, where art thou?

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | February 5, 2013

While the thought of official councils — with their high-level policy workshops and multilateral task forces — is enough to send most sensible people into fits of abysmal loathing, there is one such council that anyone passionate about...

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