If you thought oil companies might start to transition to a world without carbon, invest into renewable energies to get ahold of it. Then the message is often pretty clear, they do exactly the opposite, and do not care.
For instance oil billionaire Harold Hamm was bold and demanded from the University of Oklahoma, to fire scientists studying the dangers of earthquakes from fracking. (Bloomberg, ClimateProgress, and Alternet reported)
Another oil adventure, Shell currently on the move to try a second attempt to spill the Arctic, after the first attempt failed back in 2012.
According to Vice, during an inspection for the new Shell rigs – planned to drill in the Arctic this summer, gear responsible to prevent pollution … failed … and then the Shell crew tried to hide it from the coast guards.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was eventually capped, also because it was closer to home, experts, technique and media attention was around. However, a study from 2014 pointed out that severe storms, strong ocean currents and sea ice pose tremendous challenges for any clean-up effort, and costs of cleaning an oil spill in these icy conditions and the effect on the Arctic ecosystem would be extreme.
And because of the ice, the remoteness, it is likely that spills go undetected for much longer periods.
Even the industry is shaking heads
Oil executives from Total and Eni told the New York Times that offshore drilling in the Arctic is basically a bad economic decision and includes huge environmental challenges. Companies like ConocoPhillips and Statoil already stopped their plans to drill the Arctic, after Shell failed to accomplish anything in 2012, except for generating bad press.
Today hundreds took to protest the two Arctic Shell rigs, the main currently towed in the harbor of Seattle.
James Leaton told the New York Times, “We struggle to see how Shell could make a profit for shareholders at the lower oil prices we’re seeing today. They are like a dog with a bone; having spent billions, they’re unable to let go of it.”
Now on the topic of climate change Shell is is even bolder. According to a strategy paper from Shell, they prepare for a world with a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C.
Never mind that the Netherlands (Shell is a Dutch company), is already investing up to €144 billions to prepare the nation for a sea level rise of 1.3 meters. But with a short term rise of 4C, they may want to have a talk with Shell, since higher temperatures also increase sea level through thermal expansion, let alone the resulting ice melt. Even with current moderate to high estimates, 2 meters or more are in the ballpark until 2100.
All that money spent on highly risky explorations, and continued unabated fossil fuel extraction could buy them the pole position in the next energy generation. It’s time for better ideas.
If companies like Shell manage to get us to the 4C or above world, then this is very likely to be a recipe for the worst case scenarios of global climate change.
Teaser image shows booms on ice via WWF.