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

 

Kumi Naidoo boards Arctic oil rig demanding Cairn’s oil spill response plan

Blog entry by Kumi Naidoo | June 18, 2011

UPDATE: 11:45AM – Kumi has been arrested and is being taken to Greenland in a helicopter. As he climbed the 30 metre ladder rig operators tried to stop him making it to the platform by dousing him with a freezing jet of water...

Polar bear to starboard

Blog entry by Nick Young | June 14, 2011

We were trying to put two people ashore in Iqaluit - a small and isolated settlement on the East Coast of Canada. Why we were doing that is a story for another day but while we were there, something unforgettable happend. We  were...

Oil company's lawsuit against Greenpeace backfires

Blog entry by Nick Young | June 7, 2011

Today an Amsterdam court judge turned the tables on Cairn Energy. Rather than granting an injunction against Greenpeace, he instead suggested that the oil company might actually like to consider releasing its secret Arctic Oil Spill...

Designline more deserving of a leg up than the oil industry

Blog entry by Nathan Argent | June 1, 2011

There's more bad news that's come out Christchurch today which could set back the city's recovery. It's disappointing to learn that Designline, the bus company that invented the gas turbine hybrid and various other innovative, clean...

Live Action: Climbers in survival pod stop Arctic oil rig

Blog entry by Nick Young | May 31, 2011

In the freezing seas off Greenland, activists from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza are taking direct action against oil drilling in the Arctic. Luke and Sigurd are now hanging from the underside of Cairn Energy’s giant oil rig in our...

Denmark willing to ban marmite but not risky deep sea Arctic oil drilling

Blog entry by Nick Young | May 26, 2011

Our little jar of marmite on board the Arctic Sunrise has polarized the crew – you either love it or you loath it. There’s no middle ground and, for some reason, it’s a popular topic of discussion over breakfast in the mess. So this...

Arctic Standoff: Two Greenpeace ships confront world’s most controversial oil rig

Blog entry by Nick Young | May 25, 2011

Nick Young is Greenpeace New Zealand’s Web Manager, but right now he’s on the Greenpeace vessel  Arctic Sunrise , in the Arctic Circle. The oil industry is pushing further and further into the world’s most remote and pristine...

Will the rush for Arctic oil push us over a stupidity tipping point?

Blog entry by Iris Cheng | May 20, 2011

The Arctic sea ice has retreated steadily for the past 10 years reaching record lows, or close to it, every year. The retreat promises to reveal all manner of riches for those willing to risk everything. Unfortunately there seems to be...

Searching for an Arctic Council that will Rescue the Arctic

Blog entry by Truls Gulowsen | May 16, 2011

The ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Nuuk has just ended to great fanfare with the foreign ministers from eight countries focusing media on the signing of the new search and rescue agreement. Greenpeace welcomes an...

Wikileaks reveals Arctic could be the new cold war

Blog entry by Nick Young | May 13, 2011

Submarine explorers planting Russian flags under the North Pole. Military tension between NATO and Russia. US diplomats manoeuvring in the wings. Aircraft carriers lurking and strike fighters changing hands. Sound like something...

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