- Date published:
9:57 am, January 6th, 2020 - 112 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, global warming, Media, Mining, science, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uncategorized - Tags:
This is a scene from Bladerunner 2049, a futuristic Science Fiction film. The visual effect that the Director Denis Villeneuve wanted to create was to show that “[t]he climate has gone berserk — the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic”. The scene looks like Sydney on any day over the past few weeks, or to show that Mother Nature does not respect countries’ boundaries, Auckland yesterday, or Dunedin or the South Island glaciers last week.
There have also been over the past few years significant dust storms in Australia. Like the Eastern Australia Dust Storm in 2009 that affected Sydney.
And what is required for a big dust storm? Extended drought, just like the Climate scientists have predicted would happen.
The political response has been interesting. It is as if the right throughout the world use the same old tired excuses.
There was this lame video from Scotty from Marketing.
The video has been pilloried. Note the extended use of lame statistics and lists.
There was the “this is not the time to get political about this issue”.
Thoughts and prayers all round.
There is “we are only a small nation and only produce a small amount of pollution”. Well Australia’s 0.2% of the world’s population produces 1.3% of the world’s emissions. And if you factor in its coal and LPG exports the figure is 5%.
There has also been “it is all the Green’s fault” which is funny since the Greens have never held power in Australia, but they are apparently to blame because they are preventing the forests from being looked after. This has been tried in America as well.
The claim has been rebutted by those that know.
The latest rumour is that it is a bunch of Extinction Rebellion activists committing arson. As yet not one activist has been arrested but why let the complete lack of evidence get in the way of your dogma?
There is a great deal of anger in Australia. The failure of Australian Political leadership is pronounced. They could not even get the Navy quickly enough to crisis points and the effects of budget funding that the Rural Fire Service has had to endure are clear. And refusing to meet Fire Service leaders for months when they were trying to warn of the impending crisis is with the benefit of hindsight not a good look.
Imagine this crisis repeating itself more and more frequently into the future. Because this is what we are facing.
So what do progressives do?
For a start we need to oppose every new coal mine. There should be no new mines and existing mines have to be closed. Which is why it is extraordinary that the Adani Mine in Queensland is proceeding, and, get this, signed off by the Labor Government in Queensland.
I said this earlier about the Adani mine.
The Adani mine shows everything that is wrong with Australian politics. Put aside the fact that if completed it would release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere as well as wreck the Great Barrier reef not to mention fragile local habitats it makes no economic sense whatsoever. The price of coal is crashing. No merchant bank would go near the project, it appears that even merchant banks have minimum ethical standards.
Adani claimed originally that 10,000 jobs would be created but this has subsequently been reduced to 1,468. Spending billions to create so few jobs makes no sense.
It also had open rights to use artesian water, that commodity that will become more and more valuable in Australia. It has been estimated that the mine would use 4.6 billion litres of water a year. Consent was rushed through by the LNP three days before the election even though the report relied on had major faults. From the Conversation thread linked to above:
Details leaked to the ABC showed the review actually found that Adani’s modelling was “not suitable to ensure the outcomes sought by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act are met” and that advice for the approval was rushed through in a single afternoon.
The review found that the modelling was “not sufficiently robust”, over-predicting flows back into the aquifiers it was drawing on and using incorrect measurements for calibration.
The mine owner had also sought a billion dollar government loan to pay for the required rail infrastructure. Thankfully the Queensland Labor Government has killed this off.
The project should be terminal and put to death. Instead of this it has arguably helped return an incompetent inhumane right wing Government back to power.
But the problem is that Australian politics is awash in coal money. Gina Reinhart in particular will fund whoever can continue coal business as usual.
From the Guardian:
Advertisements spruiking the benefits of coal and mining were the biggest political expenditure by third-party groups in Australia last year, dwarfing public contributions from unions and GetUp, new data reveals.
The biggest political expenditure was $3.6m by ACA Low Emissions Technologies Ltd, which manages a fund established by the coal industry to invest in clean coal. Its largest outlay was on political ads to pay for a campaign called Coal – It’s an Amazing Thing.
The Minerals Council spent a further $1.3m, including the Making the Future Possible campaign which spruiks coal and prompted a backlash from BHP.
And coal money is all pervasive. Again from the Guardian:
Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been revealed as a key funder of the rightwing thinktank the Institute of Public Affairs – a consistent promoter of climate science scepticism.
Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, donated $2.3m to the IPA in 2016 and $2.2m in 2017, according to disclosures made to the New South Wales supreme court.
As part of a long-running legal dispute over the use of company funds, Rinehart’s daughter Bianca had served a subpoena to access documents that would have shed light on the two donations from Hancock Prospecting to the IPA.
The IPA has close ties to the Liberal party and IPA fellows regularly appear in the media. The payments suggest that more than a third of the IPA’s income in 2016 and 2017 was from Hancock Prospecting, the majority of which is owned privately by Rinehart.
On the subject of Coal Money we should not forget Clive Palmer’s $60 million spend on the last election which arguably gave the election to the Liberals.
We desperately need a media that is able to see through and pronounce the resulting propaganda as lies. But with Australia’s media dominated by a climate change denier you can see what the problem is. This passage from Enrique Dans in, of all places, Forbes Magazine, summarises the situation well.
Australians back strong environmental policies. But the powerful coal lobby in a country that is the leader in exports of this poisonous product, together with a media panorama led by climate change denier Rupert Murdoch plays down or simply ignores the situation, means no action has been taken: hence what we are seeing now. Scott Morrison, surely a candidate for the worst prime minister in the country’s history (and that’s a low bar) continued his vacation in Hawaii while his country was burning, and since returning home, has tried to play down the catastrophe, saying Australia has been through similar crises, but the evidence is against him, and now requires determined international action: if Australia continues like this, it is not just Australia that has a huge problem: the rest of the world does.
Australia is arguably no longer the lucky country. And if it does not resolve its addiction to coal it may not have a future.