We have created a civilisation capable of destroying the environment on a global scale and that is exactly what is happening. The warning bells from history are ringing loudly but our leaders and too many of the rest of us are not listening
ADELAIDE – The proposal by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold to dump plans to dump hundreds of millions of tonnes of mining waste into Huon Gulf shows why the people of Planet Earth are collectively doomed to disaster.
There is no chance this side of hell that international capitalism will stop despoiling the planet as long as there is money to be made.
The Wafi-Golpu project is just one of many around the world that would not proceed if there was a true commitment to limiting global warning to a manageable level.
Last week’s COP26 summit had all the usual suspects making all the usual promises.
These are largely worthless because the actions required to make a real difference to the current trajectory towards catastrophic climate change will necessarily dampen the ability of international capital to make money.
Consider the scale of the problem just as it relates to international shipping.
At any given moment, there are thought to be 50,000 vessels plying our oceans.
The largest vessels burn around 9,000 litres of oil each hour, the smaller vessels perhaps 3,000 litres an hour.
Estimates of the total amount of oil burned each hour varies from low estimate of 300 – 450 million litres.
Paradoxically perhaps, it is only nuclear-powered vessels, invariably warships, that do not spew CO2 into the atmosphere at an astounding rate.
Consider also international air travel. There are around 9,000 aircraft in the sky in any given moment and the hourly burn rate for jet fuel is enormous.
An A380 flying from Singapore to London burns up to 100 tons of fuel while the more efficient Boeing 787 Dream Liner burns about 80 tons on the same route.
As for the pollution from coal and gas fired power stations, it dwarfs the outputs from ships and aircraft.
There is no way we can reverse climate change in any meaningful way with solar panels, windmills, electric cars, improved insulation and the odd nuclear power station.
Those who rule us know this is true, so they engage in what amounts to an elaborate Noh play, where gestures and deliberately formalised utterances are a substitute for meaningful action.
The truth is that only if we abandon the current economic system where rampant consumerism and unbridled greed are normalised will we have any hope of avoiding the predicted catastrophe.
The idea of simply dumping mining waste in the ocean fits right into this ethos where the pursuit of wealth comes before trumps any other considerations.
These considerations include the health, perhaps even the very survival, of people deemed to be standing in the path of 'progress'.
Civilisations of the past have fallen at least in part because they exploited available resources in an unsustainable way. Previously, this has occurred on only a local or regional scale.
However now we have created a civilisation capable of destroying the environment on a global scale and that is exactly what is happening.
The warning bells from history are ringing loudly but our leaders and too many of the rest of us are not listening.
There will be a price to be paid for this deliberate deafness and I’m very afraid it will be horrendously worse than anyone today can understand.
We cannot say we have not been warned.