A Living “Shell” For Nature

Oil & gas exploration off South Africa’s coast is wilful ignorance and greed

Sign these two petitions: Oceans Not Oil and Greenpeace

Climate impact (climate change) affects everyone, but it’s often the unseen that suffers the consequences long before we humans catch a glimpse with our own eyes. Exploration for new oil and gas resources are surprisingly still a thing in this new age of solar, wind and ocean power, we still see a lacklustre approach to true sustainable energy. But why? And what are the impacts of exploring for oil and gas?

The lucrative $$$ sign flashes in most people’s eyes, but it’s the only thing that’s “green”. It’s the easy option to believe that sustainability should mean benefitting financially, that somehow we need the mighty dollar in order to progress. Can we truly be sustainable whilst the planet’s resources are plundered and can large corporations such as SHELL truly claim to be about sustainability, when they continue their exploration for gas and oil? Do the needs of the oil industry (and the consumer) outweigh the needs of our planet?

Shell’s latest oil and gas exploration is off South Africa’s beautiful Wild Coast, renowned for breeding whales, passing orca, phenomenal shark habitat, idyllic penguin colonies and various other marine life. This coastal ecosystem is one of the finest in the world that attracts both marine life and tourists to benefit from this pristine destination.

But, Shell’s exploration involves the firing of airguns, constantly over a period of 5 months, to create seismic waves deep into the ocean. These blasts are incredibly harmful to marine life and could even lead to their death. And that’s not to mention the possible after-affects should Shell’s oil & gas exploration begin.

Royal Dutch Shell will move ahead with its seismic tests to explore for oil in whale breeding grounds along South Africa’s eastern coastline after a court dismissed an 11th-hour legal challenge by environmental groups. South Africa’s high court judgement, allows Shell to begin firing extremely loud sound waves through this relatively untouched marine environment, home to whales, dolphins, seals and precious eco-system.

The words of South Africa’s Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, highlights a truly ignorant stance, that is both factually incorrect and shows a level of bias towards oil exploration that should concern everyone;

“I cannot help but ask myself, are these objections meant to ensure the status quo remains in Africa … of energy poverty?” Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe told a news conference. “Could it be possible that this is an extreme pure love for the environment, or an unrelenting campaign to ensure Africa and South Africa do not see the investment inflows they need?”

Better Safaris here, we have a question 🙋

Mr Mantashe, if protesting oil exploration to help protect ecosystems and marine life occurs worldwide, within all types of countries both rich and poor, then how can you perceive the protests against Shell’s oil exploration off South Africa’s wild coast, as people wishing for South Africa to remain in “energy poverty”?

What ludicrous comments.

Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. The majority of this production is from oceanic plankton. Meaning that it’s not just marine life at risk when we mistreat and over-consume earth’s resources. Even as far back as 1957, US oceanographer Roger Revelle wrote: “Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment…” and we are now seeing the results of that experiment.

Read: a brief history of climate change (or climate impact

What About Oil Exploration?

Oil and gas exploration encompasses the processes and methods involved in locating potential sites for oil and gas drilling and extraction. The are several negatives surrounding oil and gas exploration, drilling and producing oil. World government agencies tackle climate change, oil exploration and resulting issues in various ways, you can learn more about the basics of just one impact (oil spills) on the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website here

In 2021 alone, we’ve seen potentially catastrophic gas leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean when an offshore rig exploded in Bayelsa, Nigeria. Relating this to climate change, 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record and this trend is predicted to continue without significant disruption in our abuses of the planet. The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record. 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.

Read: 7 reasons why oil & gas exploration is bad for the environment

Read: eight scandals showing Shell’s long history of contempt for people and planet

What Are Countries Doing?

  • New Zealand Government unveiled its intention to ban the award of new oil and gas development permits in May 2018 as part of an effort to tackle climate change.
  • In September 2017, the French Parliament announced plans to introduce legislation to phase out all oil and gas production by 2040, coinciding with the country’s scheduled ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
  • Denmark’s Energy, Utilities and Climate Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt announced in February 2018 that the government would be ceasing to grant permits for the exploration and drilling of oil, natural gas and shale gas following more than 80 years of activity.
  • Belize’s legislature unanimously approved a bill to ban all future offshore developments within the country’s territories in December 2017.
  • Ireland’s lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, voted 78-48 in support of legislation to stop the Irish Government from providing new contracts for on-shore and offshore oil and gas exploration activities in February 2018.
  • Spain became the latest European country to set a date for a ban on oil and gas exploration as part of the country’s climate change and energy transition bill.
  • Greenland’s new government has also set aside their vision for their country in banning future oil and mineral exploration.

Only this past September 2021, a moratorium on deep sea mining was adopted at the Global Biodiversity Summit. A vote overwhelmingly in favour of placing a moratorium on deep sea mineral mining at a global biodiversity summit, placing urgent pressure on the International Seabed Authority to strictly regulate the practice.

…and yet here we are with the same, backwards mentalities, that have placed our planet in this mess to begin with.

As consumers, we also have a responsibility in what we buy and what services we use, to reduce our impact on our planet. So when governments refuse to take action and instead look to the mighty dollar, we can’t help but feel that it’s wildlife, marine life and the ordinary people of South Africa and other countries that are left with the burden of cleaning up the mess and saving our planet. But people alone cannot solve the climate crisis and governments adding to the problem doesn’t address, nor sympathise with scientific facts and the urgent need to tackle our over-consumption and exploitation of earth’s resources.

Actions To Take

You can also address your objections to:
Eloise Costandius, SLR Consulting (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd
Email: ecostandius@slrconsulting.com

Learn more about oil & gas exploration and the damages it can do, visit the Oceans Not Oil website.

We recently watched the Disney+ / National Geographic documentary Becoming Cousteau. The documentary was an enjoyable and entertaining watch, but critically it highlighted the need to protect our oceans and ecosystems. It displayed Jacques Cousteau’s own realisation that many of our actions as humans, are having a direct negative impact on the planet and one that we must address before irreversible damage is done.

Better Safaris are co-signatories on the Glasgow Declaration and Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency.

So how is exploration for yet more oil and gas, by wealthy corporations such as Shell, helping? And are we as consumers doing enough to reduce our use of gas & oil based products and services?

A MASSIVE thank you to all the activists, NGO’s and individuals flights for a sustainable, responsible future.

TWEET the power ❤️

Oil exploration off South Africa’s coast is wilful ignorance and greed … via @bettersafaris with @melissafourie @Oceans_Not_Oil @greenpeace @Greenpeaceafric @shellmustfall @Richard_Spoor @AssaadRazzouk #stopshell

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