The Coal Curse

Maybe I should stop reading this Quarterly Essays …? 

Since Rebecca Huntley’s essay, I have just been appalled at the political muck-ups and corruption that have been laid out. It is making me so angry and depressed that we have representatives like this in government.

It makes me worried for the future.

Judith Brett tries to inject a bit of hope, but is ultimately pessimistic, as am I:

“With the pandemic having paused so much of the world’s economy, it feels as though Australia is at a crossroads. We have the chance to shake off the curse of fossil fuels, but equally probably is that out leaders will stick with what they know and eschew innovation, like the men of the early 1960s, when Donald Horne complained that decades of tariff protection had produced a ‘look-no-brains attitude’. The signs are it will be more business as usual than embrace of the new.”

fossil fuel

With Australia’s economic history laid out by Judith Brett so clearly, it is like a slap in the face that our country is wealth because we’ve imported commodities, which are now in a declining sector. And we’ve gotten rid of manufacturing, and so we don’t have much else to offer to the world than education and tourism (but arguably education is slipping now that our relationship with China is failing). 

My eyes were opened that Harvard University’s Centre for International Development has at Atlas of Economic Complexity, and ranks us at a pitiful 93 out of 133. We’re even with countries we would deem ‘third world’. 

Sometimes simplicity has its merits. But not when our simplicity is fossil fuels, and its future is taking a rapid dive. If Australia cannot start facing its contributing to climate change, our country is at risk of being boycotted by global capital and marginalised. Most major banks won’t lend to build new coal plants, and investments companies want clean/green investments options to meet their customer demands. 

coal curseCapital is deserting fossil fuels, and Adani – the issue on which so much of our last election was based!! – cannot find anyone to fund its building. This is paired with the price of renewables falling faster than expected, and storage technology being developed more quickly – renewables are the future and we haven’t turned to them fast enough.

Then the essay points out that the short-sightedness of our politicians has been driven primarily by fossil-fuel lobbyists. They turned on Native Title, and drove culture wars, and now they’ve turned on Climate Change to such an extent that they’ve brainwashed many of our conservatives. And this essay shows how much of it is just a marketing exercise – and they’ve won!

Australia’s wealth is produced outside the cities – by primary production and mining – and the cities are primarily service sectors, but also offering the main employment. The rhetoric driven by the fossil-fuel lobbyists, and the National Party, has been that the cities are full of whingeing green bullies with interests the polar opposite of those in the regions. But it’s all just false.

How can lobbyists have such a major impact on how we all think, and where our country is headed?

If you want to wake up, read the Quarterly Essays. But don’t do it unless you’re prepare to get angry!

By |2020-07-28T17:18:14+10:00July 28th, 2020|Reviews|