Image - @sarips - A very good example why drilling for black gold in the Great Australian Bight can not happen.
Why you need to give a shit about drilling for Oil in the Great Australian Bight
The days of it being cool to not give a shit are well and truly over, even amongst teens who’ve long been the foremost proprietors of such sentiment. The reason for this is that anyone with a functioning cerebrum has realised that the Australian Government doesn’t have our best interests at heart, and can’t be trusted with looking beyond the next election cycle. Need an example? Well, you know that big reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world that we used to love using to entice foreigners to come to our country and spend money on the premise that they could go snorkelling with Nemo? It’s gone, dead, done, and it’s not coming back. The next area of outstanding natural beauty that’s in danger of being destroyed in the name of a quick cash hit is the Great Australian Bight, and if you surf (or have a heartbeat) then damn straight you should give a shit.
The “Fight for the Bight” is not a new struggle, but the longer it lingers the more chance there is of disastrous consequence. The Bight’s one of the most beautiful and scarcely populated places in the country, and big oil money’s got a sniff that there’s black gold lurking under the surface. Now this isn’t one of those instances where the uninformed masses are getting on their soapboxes, ranting and raving about something that they haven’t fully looked into. This is one of those short-sighted cash grabs that the Australian government is considering completely against the recommendation of professionals whose jobs it is to consider every possibility of what could transpire.
The crux of the matter—asides from the fact that instead of continuing to pillage the earth’s resources we should be dedicating everything we’ve got to weening ourselves off fossil fuels—is that the Great Australian Bight is one of the most rugged coastlines in the world. You hear “rugged” thrown around a lot when describing coasts, but here it’s justified. The Bight is open to the full force of the Southern Ocean, with wild storms blowing in from Antarctica and smashing into exactly where they’re proposing to drill. No oil company in the world can guarantee that their rigs can withstand this sort of tempest, so why let them try?
First it was BP (proponents of the devastating spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010) who proposed drilling—and whose rhetoric in the application described the possibility of a spill offering a “welcome boost to local economies”—who, after being rejected (Chevron soon packed their efforts in as a result), have now passed on two of their permits to Statoil, a Norwegian company, who will try and wriggle through every loophole imaginable to get the go ahead. 85% of the species found in the Great Australian Bight are found nowhere else in the world, which is staggering. The area is also a breeding ground for the endangered southern right whale, and one of the epicentres of the Australian fishing industry. “The economic benefits could be enormous,” says the media release from Appea, “the voice of Australia’s oil and gas industry,” but the question is, are we willing to flirt with the very real risk of destroying something so precious on the promise of if’s, buts and maybes? We vote hell no.
If this goes ahead then it will be a burden that we will all have to carry, and not just if there’s a spill. We’ll have to live with the knowledge that profit is more important than preservation. You’d be hard pressed to argue that this isn’t a terrifying governing principle.
Join the Fight for the Bight and be on the right side of history, here.