Oil – the bottom line by Susan Grimsdell

Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is under pressure to make a decision about whether to allow oil companies to drill off New Zealand’s coast.

My attitude is – what’s her problem? We’ve been told time and again over a period of years now that the oil already stockpiled in reserves has to stay where it is, unused, forever.  If we use any of it, the climate will be toast.

Oil and global warming

According to the London School of Economics, with the support of HSBC, Citibank, Standard & Poor, and the International Energy Agency, if we let the known reserves of oil flow, that critical increase in global warming – the 2 degrees – will happen, and events even more catastrophic than we’ve already seen will occur.  Storms, flooding, sea level rise won’t be the half of it.  We’re talking mass death and possibly civilisation collapse by the end of the century.

So what am I missing here?  We can’t use the existing oil, but hey let’s try to decide whether to send down some probes to see if there’s any more down there?  If there were an exam question in “Environmental Science 101” on the subject of to drill or not to drill, surely there could only be one  correct answer.

Oil dollars

Another factor that’s always trotted out is the money side.  We’re told there’s “millions of dollars’ worth” of oil to be found.  Maybe there is, but those dollars sure won’t end up in our pockets.  Big international oil companies don’t come here with their expensive equipment, full of kindness and good will, wanting to help New Zealand.  They might find oil and it might be worth a lot of money, but you’d have to be born yesterday to think for one moment that they’ll be handing any but a few pennies over to us.  How naïve can we be!

No to oil

So Jacinda, to borrow a message from another issue, “Just say no.”  Brave the slings and arrows that will be thrown at you, strong in your absolute knowledge that what matters in the end is whether our civilisation, for which we all feel a certain fondness, will continue to exist for a few more decades to come. That’s the real bottom line.

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