The New South Wales government has given final approval for a huge expansion of a Rio Tinto coal mine in the Hunter Valley. This will degrade or destroy the village of Bulga and significant natural habitat.
What is right about this decision? Nothing at all.
What is wrong about this decision? Let me count the ways.
This will add millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Australia’s continuing attempt to flood the world with coal would go far to pushing us over a tipping point into irreversible, catastrophic global warming. That would certainly destroy the global industrial system and possibly much of humanity as well.
The company sells this decision as a wonderful Christmas present for the 1000 or so workers who will continue to have employment. Study after study has shown that many more jobs are created by investment in clean energy than in mining.
Coal workers will work in filthy, unhealthy conditions creating ugliness and destruction. They could instead have clean, healthy jobs that are good for themselves, their communities, their countryside, native habitats and the planet.
The company claims the coal will give millions of poor people around the world access to electricity. Far better would be to help those people to generate their own clean electricity.
The coal industry claims its coal is needed in the transition to clean energy. That is rubbish, it just prolongs the addiction to fossil fuels. Clean energy is already much more feasible than the miners, media and politicians claim. It would be even more feasible if the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money that currently subsidise fossil fuels instead subsidised clean energy.
The prospects of the coal industry are shrinking on almost a daily basis, as momentum builds rapidly for divestment from the coal industry. Its assets may well be stranded.
Australian governments are tying us ever more strongly to dinosaur industries and blocking the efficient transition to clean energies that we should be leading. As a result that transition will be far more costly and disruptive when it inevitably comes.
The decision demonstrates again that the New South Wales government is in the pocket of the mining industry, as are most governments in Australia. People want action to counter global warming and to improve the environment.
When governments serve big money instead of the people, they are corrupt. When the major parties, media and other institutions of our governance system serve the rich, our system is systemically corrupt.
The federal government is in the process of giving away yet more of our sovereignty over our own lives to giant foreign and transnational corporations, through the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, which they deceitfully describe as a trade agreement. There is a word for those who serve foreigners who would harm us.
A major new attack on our indigenous people has been underway since 2007. It aims to clear the natives from the interior, the north and the west so as to give easier access by mining companies, mostly foreign, to the resources that belong to all of us. This will destroy indigenous health, culture and their attachment to Country, which is central to their being.
Giant corporations, with the collusion of our governments, pick off local communities one at a time. Despite their often valiant resistance, the communities are still losing, and their loss is our loss. There are growing alliances dedicated to resisting the follies of corrupt governments, and to promoting the sensible and healthy policies available to us.
All of this nonsense will stop when enough of us connect enough of the dots, and realise that many current policies are manifestations of the same underlying push by greedy vested interests to maintain and increase their privilege at the expense of the rest of us, and the planet.
The nonsense will stop when enough of us realise, or remember, that the fate of the world’s natural living environment is our own fate. As it sickens so we sicken. As it dies so we die. This is the simple reality of life on the fragile, miraculous planet Earth.
The nonsense will stop when we stop allowing fear to divide us, and when we come together in mutual regard and support to create the healthy, fulfilling future our children deserve to inherit.