The Coal Country

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Australia is stripping down to the bare essentials – forget water, land, farms, forget community and food  – All we need is coal, or so the Australian Government seems to think. We are at the crux of re-creating our national identity and like oil to Saudi Arabia, coal has become our international engine of economic growth and large scale devastation. We have become the Coal Country, and despite our comparatively small population, we continue to be one of the largest global contributors to CO2 emissions and currently supply 1/3 of the world´s coal. Both these figures will double by 2020.

We´ve all heard it before, the sundry green spiels of imminent natural disaster, greenhouse gases and a rapidly diminishing ozone layer, but do we really care? The fact is, that few and fewer know what is really going on and even fewer act. The tokenistic terms that are rattled off more times than weight loss in a slim fast infomercial render us immune, ignorant and uninformed about the issues that really matter.

Coal and gas mining matter, it is a nation-wide issue and less than 0.000001 percent of citizens understand the magnitude of consequences, both long term and short term, that result from mining. The Bowen Basin is located in central Queensland, where you can also find the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Dividing range, along with fertile farming land and iconic Australian flora and fauna. There are 44 mines operating in the Bowen Basin, a further 12 new mines and 7 expansions proposed or underway. The Galilee Basin will be a site for 11 proposed megamines, 2 of which will be double the size of the largest coal mine that currently exists in Australia. This displaces Aussie farmers and greatly threatens all surrounding nature and wildlife, especially the Nature Reservation, Bimblebox – (see video reference below)

The Darling Downs in Southern Queensland are known as the “gardens of Australia” boasting the richest soil in the country. With 4 small mines operating, 15 more mines are planned to go ahead. There are 18,000 gas seam wells and 4000km of pipeline. This means the clearing of hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile rich land. Approvals are now being sought for a further 8,400 wells. Alongside these mines, comes massive infrastructure that includes export plants, 4 coal ports in the Great Barrier Reef, coal transport railway and Major Dams. If these plans go ahead, Queensland will never be the same and instead mirror something similar to Fitzgerald´s grand metaphor, the wasteland. Except this is unfortunately an Australian reality.

Coal mines and gas wells exist all over the country and there are plans to expand over regions that include, the Gunnedah Basin, Liverpool Plains affecting the Murray Darling Basin and the Pilliga State Forests. These of course are linked to our major rivers and waterways including the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment, the Condamine River, Dawson River and the Fitzroy River Catchment.

The effects of coal mining and coal seam gas mining are vast and frightening. They will indeed be our undoing and you don’t have to be a genius to figure it out. Of course Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are neither geniuses nor commoners, they are the politicians of the worst kind. They lack in passion, they are uninspiring and work better than birth control in ensuring that youth do not become involved in Australian politics.

Instead of investing in a bleak future, Australia should be funding major research into alternative energy resources. Coal is finite. Further entrenching our dependence upon it through scrapping our land, farmers and wildlife by increasing our coal production capacity is selfish, immoral and illogical.

Lock the Gate is a tremendous Australian organization with boundless information about this very serious national issue. For more information about the ramifications of coal mining please click on the following link: http://www.lockthegate.org.au/

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