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

 

Budget 2016: If you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

Blog entry by Russel Norman | May 27, 2016

This budget shows that the Government’s fossil-fuel driven extractive industry based economic strategy is a slow moving train-wreck. After proclaiming in previous years that industrial dairy, coal, and oil would be the economic...

Bill Mckibben calls on New Zealanders to take action at Auckland oil conference

Blog entry by Nick Young | March 17, 2016

2016 is already looking like it will top 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history.   Despite it being absolutely essential that we leave most of the world’s fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change -...

Peaceful civil disobedience for #RealClimateAction

Blog entry by Steve Abel | February 23, 2016

// PLEASE SHARE: A call to action to Aotearoa New Zealand from one of the world's climate movement leaders and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben. Listen to him talk about why #RealClimateAction is so important.

Key gets ready to give away our ocean to oil drillers…again

Blog entry by Russel Norman | December 9, 2015

In a breathtaking display of hypocrisy, John Key is preparing to dish out new oil exploration permits - mere days after returning from the Paris climate change conference. It’s expected that the Government will announce the latest...

How we're going to stop ExxonMobil's lies

Blog entry by Annie Leonard | November 4, 2015

I'm still trying to process  recent revelations in the LA Times  and the Pulitzer winning Inside Climate News about the extent to which  ExxonMobil has worked to deny climate change. It  knew about the threat of a planet warmed by...

Statoil heading for Whangarei with greenwash offensive

Blog entry by Madeleine Smith | August 20, 2015

Norwegian oil giant Statoil is sending a delegation of executives all the way from Norway to Whangarei. Next Friday, 28th August, they will attend a specially organised meeting with the Northland Regional Council's Maori Advisory...

The Statoil Greenwash Guide

Publication | August 20, 2015 at 14:47

In light of the climate crisis and the related criticism, Statoil has displayed remarkable expertise in brand management.

Why we all should care about the oil platform explosion that just happened in Mexico

Blog entry by Arin de Hoog | April 4, 2015

Early Wednesday morning the Pemex oil platform, Abkatun Alpha blew up off the West coast of the Yucatan peninsula. The explosion killed four people and sent 16 to the hospital. 300 people managed to escape the blazing wreckage. Three...

A year to save the world? How crucial is 2015?

Blog entry by Nick Young | February 16, 2015

2015 has barely begun, but it has already been called "the most crucial year in decades for the climate battle" and a "watershed" year for sustainable development worldwide. Naomi Klein is convinced that 2015 is a once-in-a-generat...

Repsol and the Spanish government, no honour among thieves

Blog entry by Julio Barea | January 28, 2015

Nearly two months since the Spanish navy  recklessly rammed and injured  peaceful protestors who were standing up to Repsol, the Spanish oil giant announced their decision to  scrap their oil exploration  off the Canary Islands' coast.

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