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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

It’s the planet, stupid!

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The election mantra of US president Bill Clinton that ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’ might be about to be turned on its head.

The fact that the federal government is even considering letting the Adani coal mine open on the grounds that it would be good for the economy could easily backfire. They may hold a couple of seats in Central Queensland but lose a lot more around the country.

PM Morrison’s advice to the striking school kids that, ‘What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools’, shows he is confident that they can’t vote next year. They are already learning lots, particularly about what the future holds for them if Australia goes on exporting coal.

Adani’s latest proposal for a smaller mine, rather than ‘the biggest coal mine in the world’, is the thin edge of the wedge. Adani’s spokesman this week made the preposterous claim that opening the Galilee basin would lower global emissions. He justified this by claiming that the Galilee coal was better than Indian coal, which has not been proven.

He also claimed that the mine would create thousands of jobs, even though the jobs figures for the last mine were a blatant lie. Once an open cut mine is working the coal is dug automatically, loaded onto robot trucks, loaded onto robot trains, which dump onto conveyor belts which automatically load ships. This process could probably go on after humans are extinct.

The spokesman’s other claim that opening the Adani mine would lift millions of Indians out of poverty and lead to female emancipation is equally breathtaking. As if, in this day and age, any company is going to build a huge coal-fired power station and thousands of kilometres of transmission lines to remote villages is even a possibility. Remote villages can be powered by renewables at a faction of that cost.

It is possible that the Adani family don’t even want to mine coal. As soon as the mine commences, the Queensland Government will give them a licence to take unlimited quantities of water from the Great Artesian Basin for 60 years. It’s quite probable that in 20 years’ time the water will be worth more than the coal, as the price of coal is constantly dropping as most of the world comes to it senses.

Coal is the big black elephant in the house, and if Morrison can’t explain why Malcolm Turnbull was dumped, maybe the Minerals Council could enlighten us. Their sooty fingers have been involved in the dumping of several prime ministers in the past, and the winner from the latest was the Minerals Council again. They got an Energy Minister who hates renewables, and the baffling appointment of a climate-change denying Environment Minister, whose only experience was in the mining industry. It also got rid of a Prime Minister who was considering doing something about emissions. Win win.

And as for the Labour Party sitting on the fence, it’s going to become a lot more uncomfortable as the fence gets sharper and sharper.

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  1. The most recent Government of India data shows 96% of households in India have access to electricity,and it is working on delivering power ot the remaining 4%. Generating the electricity needed is likely to need coal for the near future. That electrical power provides major benifits many for low income Indians, particularly women, including among many others reduced work, pollution, carbon impact and fire risk from direct burning stoves; easier access to water from electric pumps; reduced diarrhea and other diseases because water is easier and cheaper to boil; access to the health and diet benifits of refrigeration; greater personal safety for women from better lighted streets and communal bathing and toilet facilities; greater opportunities for children to study; greater personal comfort from the use of fans; and cheaper easier access to ‘phone charging, media and the internet.

    India needs to do more work to ensure its grid power distribution is properly governed and not stolen by illegal connections. As elsewhere, India will likely transition to cheaper cleaner solar power. When households do they should still have access to the grid and will not be dependent on purchasing high cost solar electricity from unscrupulous locals who, without competition from the grid, could monopolise the sale of electricity.


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