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Two Aussie Mines to Generate More Emissions Than 52 Nations

Two Aussie Mines to Generate More Emissions Than 52 Nations

You might think coal has gone the way of the dodo, but in Australia, it seems like it’s just getting started. Alarmingly, nine major mining projects proposed for the development in the Galilee Basin of Western Australia would make what’s currently happening down under look like child’s play. Many of these massive mines are bigger than any existing Australian mines and in total, the development would produce more coal than the nation is currently exporting. The emissions generated by just two of them would dwarf those of 52 countries.

Mining companies and investors argue that coal resources in Australia represent a tremendous point of untapped energy, and income. By developing these coal seams, the country could export coal to neighbors like China for burning in power plants to generate electricity, even though the environmental cost of doing so would be extremely high. Looking at “all the mining operations, releases of methane from the ground, use of explosives, transport, shipping and the eventual burning of the coal in power plants,” these two mines would produce 125 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.

Remember, that’s just two of the nine total, making it clear that the Galilee Basin development could be an ecological disaster not just for Australia, but for the world. While some emissions would remain domestic, others would be exported to nations that persist in using coal-fired power plants, and the resulting emissions would contribute to the growing accretion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Most scientific study of the role of GHGs in the environment indicates that they are playing a direct role in the global climate change trend, which is precisely why many nations are trying to reduce such emissions, not commit to massive coal developments.

Australia’s government, however, seems to feel differently. With Tony Abbot’s Conservatives at the helm, the nation has made a series of consistently environmentally-unfriendly decisions, and it’s even giving a global climate conference the cold shoulder. The nation is rich in natural resources and has a very active mining industry and community, which plays a dominating role in politics. Despite evidence suggesting that the Galilee Basin development may be a terminally bad idea, the government supports it, although activists have managed to hold up development in court as they attempt to derail the project.

The decision to prioritize profits over environmental welfare is an ancient one, but it’s one that could cost Australia dearly. Already, the nation is struggling with the effects of climate change, including droughts, devastating wildfires and other climate disruptions that may be linked with larger shifts in global climate patterns. The Great Barrier Reef, one of the country’s natural jewels, is experiencing rapid degradation because of changing ocean temperatures and damages to the ozone layer, and many Australians are beginning to speak out against the reckless use of natural resources.

In order to truly put a stop to this and other coal developments, it may be necessary to have an economic incentive in the form of a decrease in demand for coal. That means that nations currently heavily relying on coal-fired power plants need to develop alternatives, and quickly, to get cleaner energy sources online. Such development could be a spur for job creation as well as technological innovation, and it would put coal back where it belongs: buried, not releasing tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

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Photo credit: Oatsy40.

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128 comments

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1:47PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Ken G. Just because it's 2013 doesn't make the unavoidable fact that United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are all British colonies right up to today. They were stolen from indigenous people and then raped and despoiled to this day. They STILL belong to those indigenous peoples who compared to the diseased, self centered, murdering, pillaging white colonizers, appreciated, and tried to fit themselves into the natural world they respected.

12:21PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

thanks for this important info

3:38AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Thanks for sharing this

4:45AM PST on Nov 19, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

10:05PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

again..Ken G.- welcome to USA Republican politics!...and exactly what is wrong with everything in 2013 and this coming 2014.....every opinion counts!..and it is okay to disagree...and I DO!

10:01PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Ken G....welcome to USA Republican Politics!!!...and exactly what is wrong with everything!..,!!!!

9:05PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

That said, and as I have also written before, I am increasingly worried that Abbott will not honour his committment to curb the excesses of the mining industry.


9:03PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Will R; "Ken G. The United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are all British colonies...you would deny that?"

Yes, I deny that. They, and the other countries I mentioned, and many more, are all FORMER colonies. Check your calendar, Will, it's 2013.

Shelly P; "!............I ALSO KNOW THAT MURDOCH AND THE KOCH BROTHERS HAVE NOT ONLY THROWN YOU AND YOUR WHOLE COUNTRY "UNDER THE BUS", THEY HAVE AND ARE BUYING THE USA, MOST OF EUROPE (EAST AND WEST), AND HAVE THEIR HUGE UGLY TENTACLES IN THE MID EAST.."

Actually, Shelly, China is absorbing most of the world's debt, the Murdochs and the Koch Bros. are not buying into Aus. mining or agriculture. If by "MURDOCH" you mean the Murdoch Press, then they have just assisted us out from under an incompetent Labor led left wing coalition govt. that had totalitarian ambitions. And the mining "boom" (I suggest "bubble" might be a more appropriate word) was fostered by the highly corrupt NSW Labor govt. and the ethically bankrupt and incompetent Qld Labor govt.
As I said before, this started under Labor. We did not hear a peep out of the lefty commentariat about it, until the Federal govt was changed at elections held on 9th. Sept, just over 10 weeks ago. The parliament has been in recess from before the election until last week, so it is a bit soon to be blaming Abbott.

That said, and as I have also written before, I am increasingly worried that Abbott will not honour his committment to curb the excesses of the mining in

8:17PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Terrible. The world needs to switch to appropriate renewable energy.

5:21PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

So sad to see this

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