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

 

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...

Whale-Oil Blog

Blog entry by Dean Baigent-Mercer | February 4, 2013

New Zealand waters are home to 47 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, which is over half the world’s 80 species of cetaceans. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Of course things aren’t all chilled out in cetacean-world what with fishing nets,...

No longer just a photograph in my calendar

Blog entry by Kate Paris | February 3, 2013

The sub-Antarctic islands.  Not so much on our doorstep but definitely in our hood.  Of all the nature freaks I know and love only a few possess an intimate knowledge of this far-flung, incredibly wild place.  As for the regular town...

The clean green principled economy (2/3)

Blog entry by Maya McNicoll | January 30, 2013

“ It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five Minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently. ” - Warren Buffet Yesterday we spoke about the 70% of export revenue that is directly attributable...

Snake Oil

Blog entry by Maya McNicoll | January 16, 2013

The banners that welcomed the new Rainbow Warrior into Auckland read “Haere Mai” – Welcome home.  The state of the art ship is here in her spiritual home to bring attention to the fact that John Key and his cronies have reckless plans...

8 reasons why Shell can't be trusted in the Arctic

Blog entry by Franziska | January 4, 2013

Shell's most recent 'mishap' a few days ago was not the first setback the oil giant has suffered in its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. In fact, it's the eighth in a growing list of reasons why Shell should not be trusted in...

Totally saying no to Arctic oil

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | September 27, 2012

"Oil on Greenland would be a disaster." "Energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters." "The risk of an oil spill in such an environmentally sensitive area is simply too high." Sounds familiar? Today, it’s not...

Shell is trying to stifle your freedom of expression

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | September 24, 2012

Last Friday, activists from Greenpeace Netherlands showed up in Shell gas stations in their country and blocked the petrol pumps. They were protesting against Shell’s reckless Arctic drilling plans – which has since then been...

Polar Bears take action against Gazprom’s Arctic plans

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | September 6, 2012

Last night as we slept, a team of intrepid polar bears from Greenpeace visited Gazprom’s flashy headquarters in Moscow. At the same time, activists from Greenpeace in Germany set up a leaking oil derrick outside the Gazprom...

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