Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, September 18th, 2017 - 210 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, Economy, energy, Environment, peak oil, sustainability, transport - Tags: auckland, fuel crisis
The irony election just went into overdrive.
— Sonya Fay McKenzie (@sonyapryr) September 17, 2017
— Greenpeace NZ (@GreenpeaceNZ) September 17, 2017
Peak Oil theory is an analysis of the relationship between the peak in fossil fuel production, time, energy returned on energy invested, and the global economy. It’s not about running out of oil reserves in the ground (although according to the laws of physics there will be a peak with that too, because, you know, humans are using fossil fuels at a exponentially higher rate than fossil fuels are being created by nature). It’s about what happens when demand from an increasing population and an increasingly industrialised population comes into conflict with the decrease of easily extractable reserves.
I’m mentioning this because the headlines today are full of the impact on people of cancelled airline flights due to the breaking of the fuel line between the Marsden Refinery and the Auckland airport. Get used to it, because as with climate change and extreme weather events, the confluence of climate change, peak oil and the consequences of neoliberalism will start to have increasing effect on us personally.
Strangely I’m not seeing much reporting on the environmental issues, including what happened to the 70,000 litre of av gas that ended up in the land at the Ruakaka farm. RNZ are reporting the oil company claim that most of the oil has been recovered.
How much jet fuel was spilled? "We think close to 60,000 litres, 1 to 1.5 truckloads," Mr Post says. Most of it has been recovered. https://t.co/5nlB1XipAG
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) September 17, 2017
Environmental damage will be nil, Mr Post says. By the time Refining NZ is done farmers will find land restored. https://t.co/2bwTzkHeg6
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) September 17, 2017
Nothing to see here, move on. And how nice for the farmers.
The regional council has signed off on the recovery, but colour me cynical on trusting the authorities on the environment. What is most? How was it recovered? What is the impact on soil and water and wildlife? This is where we’ve come to, trust is very low.
Astounding that RNZ interviewed the oil company boss for ten minutes, and in what was an otherwise interesting and informative interview that talked about forward planning and infrastructure it made no mention of climate change or the need to stop burning fossil fuels.
According to the Department of Conservation’s website, wetlands “are one of our richest natural assets – or were. We’re only just beginning to understand the many reasons why we should have left them alone.”
Ms Collins said she had no idea environmentalists were concerned about digging up wetland areas.
While it is illegal to export raw native timber, 3 News understands Oravida is planning to set up a processing plant so it can send the Kauri offshore as a finished product.
Ms Collins said the concerns have nothing to do with her.
“Does that have anything to do with me? Am I the minister of wetlands? Go and find someone who actually cares about this, because I don’t,” she said.
“There’s a large number of our birds that depend on wetlands for their survival,” said Dr Smith.
“It’s not my issue. I don’t like wetlands – they’re swamps,” said Ms Collins.
This is all comes less than a month after the Victoria Forest Park controversy, when Energy Minister Simon Bridges signed off the biggest forest park in the country for oil exploration, despite never having heard of it.
A few pūkeko coming home to roost there. The pipeline was apparently damaged at some point by a digger after swamp kauri. The leak itself happened last Thursday, which begs some questions about why it’s taken so long for all involved to tell the public. And there’s a fair amount of discussion about whether the kauri digger is associated with Oravida. Whether it is or isn’t, this accident was set up a number of years ago.
Judith Collins, swamp kauri, privatization, Auckland infrastructure collapse. All we're missing is Oravida. And rumour is that's coming…
— Graham Cameron (@GCSB_spy) September 17, 2017
Not so much closing some loops here, as pointing to the gordian knot in the living room. The natural consequence of 30 years of neoliberalism, and 9 years of FJK’s National in particular. The extractive economy.
But it’s not just them, it’s us too.
As I’ve written about before, flying causes climate change. Not just from the emissions from the av gas used in that flight from Auckland to wherever, but the emissions from the total infrastructure used to move humans quickly around the planet and from the way the economy works that in order for airlines to remain viable the infrastructure has to keep increasing. To have cheap flights we have to build more airports, which means more cheap flights and more airports and more flights and more emissions from all the extra-flight activity. Meanwhile the world is getting hotter.
We either need to stop flying so much, or we need a non-GHG replacement for av gas (unlikely in ways that will meet current demand) or we need to accept that we are ok with catastrophic climate change. Because while industrialised nations are fast getting on board with public transport and electric cars, flying is going to become the next symbol of our refusal to take climate change seriously when it confronts out personal lifestyles and how the economy runs. Start thinking about not just the business trips cancelled, but all the freight disruptions from this week. In a post carbon world are you ok with getting your books off Amazon via sea freight? What do you want to have happen now?
So the digger which struck the fuel pipeline was after swamp Kauri. MPI has allowed that greedy plunder to continue. #fuelshortage
— Whena Owen (@WhenaOwen) September 17, 2017
These aren’t a random set of circumstances. There are connections between climate change, the stress of cancelled flights, the digging up of swamp kauri, the environment, failing infastructure, neoliberalism, the end of the empire. We’re at the tipping point where our greed for resources and our insistence on perpetual growth and being able to do whatever the hell we like so long as we have the dosh and can get away with it are going to either change to something more sustainable or fall over completely.
And here we are about to elect a government.
This shit has to stop. We have to stop thinking that digging up taonga and selling for the best bucks is a reasonable thing to do. We have to stop thinking that being able to fly where we like and when we like is a reasonable thing to do. We have to stop thinking that climate change is something that is separate from our politics and our lifestyles.
Oh, and Labour? Time to commit to keeping all fossil fuels in the ground. No more deep sea oil drilling, no more fracking, no more new coal mines. We cannot afford to burn the reserves we have now, it’s insanity to allow continued fossil fuel exploration. We also cannot afford a major oil spill. So often NZ gets these dry runs at what might be on the horizon, here’s another one. Are we paying attention?
Feel free to use this thread to discuss general issues around the Ruakaka/Auckland fuel crisis, I just wanted to put the discussion in a broader context.