Remember that scene in James Bond movies? 007 is in a small room filling up with water. His time is running out. The water keeps rising. The tension is unbearable. Bond is running out of options. That’s what I think of when I think of climate change and the increasing load of carbon going into our environment.
We’re up to our necks in carbon emissions but we’re still pumping in the fossil fuels. What does the future hold as far as 2050? 2100? Are you game to look? Leading climate scientists say that regardless of future emission trends, the CO2 footprint from our very brief passage on Earth will remain in the climate system, affecting all terrestrial life forms for ‘eternity’. I think that’s what the Christian god referred to as ‘Hell on Earth’.
Coal is to the planet what smoking is to the human body. We’ve got climate cancer. And like smoking, when it comes to coal, there aren’t any safe levels. Sorry, Mr Morrison, you might be able to bleach coral but you can’t clean coal. The majority of CO2 emitted from burning a single tonne of coal will be absorbed over centuries by oceans and vegetation but the remaining 25 per cent will still be affecting the climate in 1,000 years. So why are we still mining coal? The Australian government has given the go-ahead for Indian-owned Adani Carmichael Coal mega-mine located in the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton. This is set to be the biggest single coal province in the world.
At a time when we are supposed to be meeting the targets set by the Paris agreement, moving ahead with renewables, we’re opening the doors for foreign-owned companies to take our coal. Oh, and if they don’t use their coal they’re threatening to use a much dirtier source back home. It’s environmental extortion.
So all the Aussie coal goes to India. While bleating on about energy security it’s good to remember that none of that so-called energy stays here. It all leaves our shores via a railway line (Mr Turnbull looked under his mattress and found a cheeky $1 billion concessional loan to throw in as a sweetener) and straight out through Abbot Point. Which happens to be on the Great Barrier Reef, the coal port where already 200 million tonnes of coal are already transported every year.
The same reef, listed as one of the world’s natural wonders, that reported a climate-change-related coral bleaching last year that saw 22 per cent of the reef destroyed in just one event. For some reason, although national environment laws exist to protect air, water and wildlife those laws don’t recognise the impacts of greenhouse gases. The reef and tourism provide 534,000 jobs versus 57,800 jobs in mining throughout the entire region.
Mining has a finite lifespan. Reef-based tourism is perpetual. So who is there to protect our environment at a federal level? Why, Mr Josh Frydenberg. Hang on, isn’t he the minister for energy AND the environment? How can two such conflicting portfolios be fairly executed? That’s like being minister for smoking and health. Or gambling and finances. That’s like being the same lawyer who represents the rapist and the victim. The paedophile and the child. That’s called government. It’s supposed to represent the people but we all know it mainly represents people IN corporations. More precisely, people in power.
The world has a heroin-like dependence on fossil fuels. We can’t imagine life without our energy dealers. We’re hooked into ‘the grid’. We’re not just co-dependent, we’re coal-dependent. To move towards renewables isn’t just about changing power supply, it’s about changing mindset. We need to be responsible for the generation and consumption of our own power. We don’t need to be hooked up to ‘the man’. Moving away from fossil fuels is the ultimate test for capitalism and democracy, proving really that the two can no longer co-exist. Energy efficiency and self-reliance on renewable systems such as solar and wind move away from big corporate models of dependence and localise energy in the same way activists have talked about localising food and production. It’s the only way forward.
The Adani mine is a line in the sand when it comes to climate change. It needs to stop. Headed up by 350.org Australia, and in collaboration with Australian Conservation Foundation, and The Seed Indigenous Network, the Stop the Adani Mine Roadshow will be raising awareness and pressuring government to revoke their approval. Starting in Townsville at James Cook University on 27 March, Brisbane City Hall on 28 March, Seymour Theatre in Sydney on Wednesday 29, National Convention Centre in Canberra on 30 March and Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre on 31 March. Please attend an event closest to you.
For more information go to stopadani.com because at the end of the day, when it comes to climate change, we have the power.