Saturday, December 17, 2016

Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground. Adani and Australian coal

And some have sailed from a distant shore
And the company takes what the company wants
And nothing's as precious, as a hole in the ground

Blue Sky Mine. Written by James Moginie, Martin Rotsey, Peter Garrett, Robert Hirst, Wayne Stevens • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

I've been a Midnight Oil fan for a number of years, and this lyric sticks in my head when I think about the issue with Adani in Australia. We know that to keep climate change below really dangerous levels - and it is worth noting with about a degree of warming already that the world is undergoing significant impacts (see for example here) - that we need to stop further fossil fuel exploration and extraction. This is a no brainer.

And yet in Australia we see a state government wanting to fast track the Adani Carmichael mine as critical infrastructure. With the previous concept, how in any reality is a new coal mine critical to anything other than wrecking the planet? At the same, the Australian Prime Minister wants to lend A$1 billion to build the needed rail links. At a time when the poor and vulnerable are being targeted, and big companies pay little tax, how does such a loan in any way support the Australian economy. 

India is also pushing ahead with solar power, set to add another 6 GW by early next year. Roof top solar is growing, with the rural poor leapfrogging coal. India is moving away from coal - so why is one rich man giving tax payers money to another rich man to fund a damaging product? And don't forget all the issues with the Great Barrier Reef. The impacts of a new port and emissions all directly impact the Reef, which is already suffering (forget Pauline Hanson's deliberately obscurantist stunt). 

A theology which sees the picture of Genesis 1-2 as portraying the Earth as a temple-cosmos (see the work of John Walton or any of the relevant talks on YouTube) is not incompatible with the idea of mining (see Genesis 2:10-14) anymore than the idea of a temple precludes use (the priests in the Jerusalem temple ate part of the meat for example), but gets us to rethink the idea of resource (a big topic for another time). Michael Northcott for example points out it was medieval neo-Platonic Christians who had an issue with mining.

My point is that a simple minded extractionist model is not suited to the world the way it is now, not in a warming climate. This mine is not needed, nor wanted by those of us who want a future for our children, this planet, and who see our care of the Earth as a sacred duty from God.

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