I could write quite a long rant about this topic… actually I did but I was afraid you wouldn’t read it. So here are the main points that wind me up. I hope you agree.
The topic: Oil companies sniffing around our little country and coastline in New Zealand.
The way those big conglomerates are snooping around trying to find the best spot to dig a well for oil in rural countryside and near our coastline is sly and devious. It is understandable they don’t want anyone to notice and cause an uproar against them. They want to keep things as quiet and uneventful as possible. They calm the angry voices by saying things like “don’t worry yet, we’re just looking.” To me, that sounds like a three year old in a shop being told not to touch the precious pretty things as he defiantly whines “I’m just looking!” We all know full well that “just looking” quickly turns into “too late”.
The kiwi culture is wide open to being taken advantage of. There are always individual exceptions but overall our kiwi culture is a set of values that wants to believe the best in people. We’re not suspicious people. We haven’t been ripped off or hard-done-by from other countries. We are honest people that expects honesty from our authorities. We’ve had it easy and I think that might have made us complacent. We think small scale, local and short term.
The global oil companies wouldn’t come all this way across the world to go home empty handed. They would have already invested time and money into prior research in order to send people over here with gear to test. They’ve probably also sent their best negotiators and public relations people to win over the local authorities and get those resource consents without public consultation. They’ve got them by the way. Did you know?
The consequences for the environment are permanent and far reaching. It’s not just a few kilometre radius that is exposed to risk. There will be damage. Not just a risk of accidental damage. Permanent change to the environment. More trucks on our roads, more roads to carry the trucks, more grubby ships washing themselves in our clean(ish) ports. Smelly exhaust assimilating with our long white cloud. That’s all before they start piercing the earth’s crust to extract the oil they’ve come for.
The argument about job creation and money. “Our country needs it”. “The economy needs it”. “The people need it”. “The small towns need it”. Well maybe, but this isn’t the answer. Not like this. People are temporary. Jobs are temporary. Money is temporary. Even the infrastructure built with the tax money collected, is ultimately, temporary. People are adaptable, they find ways to survive, invent jobs for themselves, invent value for themselves and learn to live with fewer flat screen TV’s.
We need to think long term… really long term, like more than 10 years. Try 50 years or 100 years. That’s hard to imagine into the future so try looking backwards to see what 100 years looks like. 1913 through to 2013. Then ask, what is our legacy? Is it opening our land and seas up to extract oil for a whole lot of money. Think Texas, they might be rich, but they still have poverty and conflict and unemployment. Is richness what we need?
This blog is my reaction to a story about Dannevirke, New Zealand on Campbell Live TV3 April 24th. But there are plenty more events quietly going on like this across our country from the tunnel being dug through a natural native forest in fiordland to the government making it illegal to protest in the ocean. I thought local authorities acted on behalf of the community they represent but it seems that local councils and government are not just turning a blind eye, they’re encouraging it with dollar signs gleaning in their eyes. I’m saddened that money speaks louder than integrity and people. New Zealanders are loosing their say on the use of our own land, especially state owned land.
What are we going to do about these big bully corporations buying what they want with their fat money? What will our legacy be?
(By the way, the image with this post is obviously not anything to do with oil but I like to use my own photographs rather than someone else’s. We don’t have any oil rigs near where I live but just a two minute walk from my house is this view of the ugliness we impose on our landscape for our power and cellphone coverage convenience.)