Two of our nation’s top climate-change deniers, speaking immediately after the coalition’s election victory, unwittingly revealed why Australia’s coal reserves are doomed to remain largely in the ground.
First came former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, cheeks reddened as ever by hubris, declaring that Labor and the Greens lost because ‘people are talking about their power prices, they want to know how they can get dignity in their lives… by being able to turn on the toaster.’
He has a point, this man so firmly rusted-on to the here-and-now, but he misses the bigger picture; that when the planet’s burning up it’s not enough to worry about the toaster.
Then came former prime minister Tony Abbott, facial skin taught as ever on account of raw onions and fury at losing his seat.
‘Where climate change is a moral issue,’ Tony declared, ‘we Liberals do it tough, but where climate change is an economic issue … we do very, very well.’
Tony misses the point that leaving burning fossil fuels alone and harvesting energy from more accessible bits of the environment is the better economic option. It’s interesting that he thinks of saving the planet (and therefore our species) as a moral issue, as if survival were an option dependent on virtue, an indulgence really, not something a tough guy like him would give a fuck about.
Meanwhile, I saw last week that the largest solar farm in Queensland has been built by Sun Metals (a subsidiary of Korea Zinc) to supply a third of the power required by their new refinery near Townsville.
Reneweconomy editor Giles Parkinson points out that this is the most recent entry on the growing list of corporations building their own solar plants to power their Australian operations, including Telstra, Westpac, and Mars Australia, whose six factories will be powered by a solar farm in Victoria.
More than enough
Enough solar energy blasts our continent every day to power our species’ entire industry.
Also last week The Australian ran a story headlined ‘Adani downsizes, cuts new job numbers’, which explained that ‘The workforce at Indian mining conglomerate Adani’s mine in jobs-starved central Queensland could be as low as 800 once the Carmichael facility is operational,’ adding that ‘this contentious project… was spruiked in 2010 as one of the world’s largest mega-mines, requiring a $16.5 billion investment, yielding 60 million tonnes of coal a year, and creating up to 4,000 jobs in construction and 5,000 operationally.
‘Last year, the company said it would self-finance the project, and dramatically scaled back its plans, promising a shorter 200km rail line, a smaller $2bn mine, and an annual yield of 10 million tonnes.’
Nice of the Murdochians to be upfront about this doomed coal mine, just after its false promises were used to win crucial coalition votes from those ‘job-starved’ Queenslanders. During the election, Mike Seccombe reports in The Saturday Paper, mining leech Clive Palmer boosted the Adani mine without dwelling on the fact that his own Waratah Coal company ‘has open-cut and underground mines covering an area of 144,000 hectares, and would produce about 33 per cent more coal than the Adani mine.’
The fortunes of Adani and Palmer are linked: Adani’s rail line would facilitate Palmer’s mine, and potentially others, getting coal to port.
A third lease in that Galilee Basin region, operated by a coal-extraction outfit called MacMines, pulled up stakes and went home to China last month because the Chinese Capitalist Party central committee appears to have realised that burning thermal coal to generate electricity is no longer a good idea.
It’s a pity that the powerful Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union stands with the government on Adani, apparently on the Abbott principle that tens of thousands of jobs (now downsized to 800) trump the ‘moral’ issue of facing up to transforming the planetary eco-system by over-heating the oceans and the atmosphere, melting the ice caps, and scorching the earth – leaving our children and their children to sort that later on.
So here we all are, a bunch of frogs in a great big pot of water that is slowly but steadily heating towards boiling point, and the bloated fossil fool frogs – think a grinning Scott Morrison face here – are telling us ‘No, the climate isn’t changing, it’s just, you know, weather.’
For the rest of us little frogs in the big warming pot, our fate depends on whether the big decisions continue to be made by business brains or by those of us who can see, hear, and feel what’s going on, informed by the hordes of scientists whose smoke alarms are, incredibly, failing to wake us all up.
♦ Phillip Frazer posts possibly too many alarms at coorabellridge.com.