Q & A

Commonly asked questions & answers:

Q: Well you drive a car and use plastic, so how are you any better than us?

A: People who speak up for environmental protection don’t claim to be perfect. When we criticize the use of fossil fuels we are not saying “look at us we’re so much better than you”. We are simply saying “hey, this is not how we should be living, it’s not okay to keep doing this, we need an alternative or to just stop somehow”. If we look at the problems of the world as individual problems, that need to be solved individually, then we are not really seeing the true problem. Fossil fuel consumption and climate change are global problems caused by most if not now all the human race – but mostly by those in power and with the resources to control our markets. This massive problem can’t be solved by small individual changes, it needs a global social and political shift. Most of us now live in a modern, urban, industrialised and highly technological world with few choices for living sustainably. We probably can’t all go live on a piece of land and grow or hunt food and cook on a woodstove with no computer, fridge or car…. but we can change society so that we stop ‘needing’ to live off fossil fuels. So that these things that are created from and cause harm to the planet and people can be displaced with sustainable ways of living such as renewable energy, public transport, localised food-growing, decentralised communities and local economies.

Read “Why it’s ok to drive your car to an anti-oil protest”  by Meghan Hughes (20 Jan 2014)

Q: Isn’t ‘natural gas’ clean gas?

A: No. You can argue that everything is natural so that word becomes meaningless. Natural gas is mostly methane gas (CH4). Methane is twenty times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane, when turned into urea (a common fertiliser made in NZ and used on most farms), it emits nitrous oxide which is over 300 times more harmful to the atmosphere. Even if burnt, methane still becomes carbon dioxide and water vapour which again affect the atmosphere.

Q: So why is fracking and offshore drilling suddenly so bad?

A: We are at a time now when we are starting to see the real effects of climate change that ahs been talked about for so many decades – millenia old communities moved from their low-lying villages, diseases spreading into new regions, glacial melt, increased extreme weather events, species extinctions and even sea level rise and ocean acidification. Therefore extracting more fossil fuels from the planet now is pure insanity, like increasing smoking when you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer – except the whole planet’s being diagnosed with it too. To make it worse, accessing those fossil fuels is now even more difficult and dangerous because we’ve already taken most of the easy-to-get stuff. Fracking and offshore drilling requires more dangerous chemicals than before and in increasingly stormier seas or in new regions now that were previously considered too precious or too close to communities. Governments under increasing financial strife from unsustainable economic policies and massive global debt, are desperate and readily remove or go ahead without sufficient safety measures in place.

Q: We can’t just stop using fossil fuels, that’s ridiculous isn’t it?

A: Yes it’s not going to happen overnight but if we don’t ever ask for, demand or make it happen then it never will… until we are in big, big trouble and it’s too late. Sometimes we have to ask for what seems impossible but is actually essential. Fossil fuel extraction needs to stop now because we’ve already put so much greenhouse gas (CO2, NO2, NH4 etc) into the atmosphere that we’ve reached the point where we’re very close to a tipping point of disastrous global temperature changes, major sea level rise, mass extinction, chaotic weather etc etc etc. The only so-called scientists left arguing against this are paid by oil companies to say so. There is overwhelming evidence and agreement amongst the world’s best scientists that human-induced climate change is upon us and unless we reduce fossil fuel consumption and restore natural carbon sinks such as forests and healthy soils it will never be stopped and our children and many future generations will suffer immensely.

Q: Is it bad to work for the oil industry?

A: Climate justice activists are not about blaming oil industry workers. Workers have bills to pay and little choice of where they work. The fossil fuel industry is not controlled by the workers but by a few rich people whose primary interest is making money. They often pay workers well because they can, while still making massive profits. Their profits are only so big because the true costs of the industry are put on the natural world and communities vulnerable to climate change and who live nearby.

Q: What’s the alternative…

A: the alternative is a combination of living as previous generations did using less resources combined with new technology which is truly sustainable and energy efficient. Read more here.

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