Hooked On Coal

power station

It is February, 2013. I’m going to come back to this post in the future to compare the present day fossil situation with the past.

I just don't get it! The best evidence available - scientific evidence, and that's what everyone apparently needs these days - places a high probability of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Putting aside the annual catastrophic and unusual weather events of extreme hot and extreme cold around the planet, the long term trends of higher average global temperatures do not fill one with excitement. Ocean acidification, species extinction, human disease epidemics ... these are just several of many irreversible impacts that will likely occur as a result of continual extraction and use of fossil hydrocarbons.

Mining - just another hole!

So, what IS going on when nations of all persuasions continue to mine fossil hydrocarbons at a frenetic pace knowing of the consequences to the planet? I don't get it! 

Maybe technology will intervene to clean up the emissions before too many years pass by, but right now there are only limited prospects on the horizon.

So, here we go again, this time in Queensland, where the gigantic coal prospect, Carmichael Mine, is presently under assessment by the Queensland government. But what for? And why?

Australia and it's states are at the forefront in their duplicity that allow massive coal and gas mining ventures to continue to develop, yet talk about reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions and talk about what a good global citizen we are. How can this be?

The big coal-mining state of Queensland, so dependent now on coal exports for its economy, is caught in a cleft stick. It has locked itself into a "fossil" paradigm - coal and gas - from which it is inviting escalating trouble and grass roots action. It is happening now, and will continue to happen.

But let's now consider a South Australian perspective. 

It should be remembered that South Australia is predicting very dire consequences for it's region and its people arising from climate change. It says it needs to adapt, as though climate change is an inevitability. 

It should also be remembered that the coal that is dug up, and will be dug up in the years to come in Queensland, will have an indirect impact on the future climate of South Australia. We are advised that a warmer future climate resulting from increasing greenhouse gas emissions is a high probability. South Australia knows this - it's in the recent report A Climate Change Adaptation Framework for South Australia 2012.

Of course, South Australia has been digging up dirty brown coal for decades to feed the Port Augusta power stations. I lived in Port Augusta in the early 1970's when the air was filled with acrid sulphurous compounds on occasions, and southerly winds blew the choking fumes towards the town. The atmosphere was acidic. The government of the day "solved" the problem by constructing a much higher fume stack that vented the wastes into higher atmospheric layers. It merely dispersed the problem. It was never going to go away. And that's what coal does. It is highly polluting.

Ask the Chinese.

What about justice and wide-ranging impacts on the environment?

Scales of environmental justice

The scales of justice? There isn't any scale. When it comes to the environment the scales are always out of balance.

The environment box is almost empty.

To disconnect what happens in coal mining in Queensland from what is predicted to happen to South Australia's climate, is wrong. And it's unjust. There will always be a connection.

There will always be a connection with wherever coal is sent. The atmosphere encircling Earth does not have any boundaries (except 60 kilometres up).

The coal that will be extracted from monster mines such as Carmichael Mine, is going to be burnt in Asia, where pollution abounds and where human and environmental health count for far less than it should! 

It could be said that it's not Australia that's going to produce those millions of tonnes of emissions, it's those other countries. "Our conscience is clean". But it's not. That's a fallacy.

Oh yes, what about the destruction of 10,000 ha of land for Carmichael Mine?

A cynic would say - look at all the other land that's been wasted by all sorts of developments over the years; the deforestation, dryland salinity, soil acidification, species extinction, biodiversity destruction, and on and on - she'll be right mate, the future will take care of all that. 10,000 ha is merely a pin-prick! 

I just don't get it. A fossil is a fossil. It became a fossil for a reason. 

Ever thought about that? 

Release a fossil (e.g. coal) and Earth's sacred balance is then disrupted. With no return. Enough is enough. The monsters have to be stopped!! I'm not optimistic that they ever will be.

Have your say.

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