NSW Mining has been running a campaign: “Hurt Mining. Hurt NSW.” They argue the campaign is:
Raising awareness of the importance of our miners and the thousands of people working in businesses supplying our mines and to showing [sic] decision makers that if you hurt mining, you hurt NSW.
I wonder if there were campaigns in previous generations along similar lines:
- Support paper. Hurt the parchment guild.
- Support cars. Kill the horse and cart industry.
- Support computers. End the typewriter industry.
No matter how much we fight it, the fossil fuel age is coming to a close. Unfortunately the transition is going to be very painful for many people. But fighting the inevitable is only going to prolong the pain. Fossil fuels have reached their retirement age.
Mining coal has brought many benefits, but continuing to support the fossil fuel industry is threatening our future. If Australia mines all our coal and gas we have no hope of keeping global warming to less than 2°C. We need to end our destructive relationship with fossil fuels.
The Climate and Health Alliance released a report today, “Coal and Health in the Hunter: Lessons from one valley for the world“, providing another picture of the impact of mining on the Hunter. (Newcastle, where I live in the Hunter, is the World’s largest coal port.) In the Summary for Policymakers they argue:
Coal has powered economic and social development for two centuries. However, we are now aware of the severe, and potentially catastrophic, damage done to individuals, communities, the economy and the environment by the mining, processing and burning of coal. Governments must act now to (1) tackle the problems caused by coal in the Hunter Valley and (2) move society away from dependence on coal and other fossil fuels to environmentally sustainable, healthy, renewable energy sources.
Many new technologies throughout history have disrupted the status quo. My aunt, along with thousands of others, lost her job as a telephonist with the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges. Steam engines, sewing machines, airplanes, electricity and street lighting to name a few have all led to painful industrial change. Yes, renewable energy is a “disruptive technology;” but it is creating a large range of new jobs and possibilities.
We now have many technologies for producing energy that are better for the environment and humanity than fossil fuels, so governments and corporations throughout the world are investing heavily in renewable energy. Australia is getting left behind because we don’t want to harm the fossil fuel industry. By failing to embrace new technologies we are ignoring the many opportunities they present and are likely to harm our economic future.
Change is an inevitable part of innovation and is central to human history. Arguing that when we hurt mining we hurt NSW, is another attempt to slow the tide of change regardless of the consequences.
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