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

 

Ends of the Earth

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | July 6, 2012

Corporations look to plunder Earth’s polar resources The World’s multinational corporations face an unrelenting problem. Resource extraction has met Earth’s limits. The great fortunes of history were made by plundering...

Drawing a line in the Arctic ice

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | June 22, 2012

Earlier today at the Rio Earth Summit, Greenpeace joined forces with a host of famous names to demand that the uninhabited area of the High Arctic that lies around the North Pole be legally protected and kept off-limits to the...

Lucy Lawless: Guilty, not sorry

Blog entry by Lucy Lawless | June 15, 2012

Several months ago, I found myself on the precipice of committing a crime. I was crouched in darkness with a bunch of Greenpeace activists, preparing to occupy a Shell drilling ship bound for the Arctic. I was suppressing the urge to...

Lessons from the Elgin gas leak: why we must stop Shell's Arctic drilling

Blog entry by Bex | April 5, 2012

Ten days after the leak began, Total is still struggling to contain the gas pouring from its North Sea Elgin platform, citing bad weather as the cause of the delays. Yet, in just 100 days’ time, Shell wants to start drilling for oil in...

With rights come responsibilities

Blog entry by Frida Bengtsson, Greenpeace Nordic | March 30, 2012

I’m in sunny Stockholm this week, spring is here for sure and woolly hats and gloves are yet again stored away for next winter.  In a grand Natural History museum not so far from where I work sit scientists, Indigenous...

Nine questions UK MPs should ask Shell about its Arctic drilling

Blog entry by Bex | March 14, 2012

Today, we’re in for a treat – another glimpse into the fantastical world of the Arctic oil spill response plan writer.  Shell and Cairn Energy – who have both tried to use brute legal force to obstruct public scrutiny of their...

Shell Attempts to Silence Dissent Over Arctic Drilling

Blog entry by Chris Eaton | March 12, 2012

Do you disagree with Shell Oil’s plan to drill in the Arctic? Well, Shell is trying to silence you. This week, the Shell Oil Company responded to Greenpeace New Zealand activists who boarded its drillship by filing a Temporary...

Seven of us climbed up that drillship to stop Arctic drilling, but 133,000 of us came...

Blog entry by Bunny | February 27, 2012

As we sat anxiously in the office last Friday waiting for the 'we made it' call we never dreamed that four days later we would have witnessed such a massive media storm, such overwhelming global support and such tenacity from our...

In 30 years we've lost 75% of the Arctic sea ice

Blog entry by James | February 14, 2012

If there's one fact to remember which underlines the urgency in protecting the Arctic it's this: in 30 years we've lost 75 per cent of the Arctic sea ice. That ice is not only a pristine environment supporting threatened species...

VW: 500,000 Jedi can't be wrong

Blog entry by jamie | February 3, 2012

Our VW campaign has passed a significant milestone, as the Jedi ranks swell to over 500,000. That's an incredible half a million people demanding that Volkswagen gets behind the sort of climate laws we need to save our planet. So...

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