From Carlo Sands’ column in this week’s Green Left Weekly:
This is surely a country that could use a bit of good news. It has been a tough few weeks with raging bushfires, severe flooding and, just when it seemed it couldn’t get worse, the heartbreaking news we will be subjected to the longest election campaign in Australian history.
So it was with real relief that I finally came across a positive story. ABC Online said on January 25 that, “Brisbane company Linc Energy says independent studies have confirmed a major shale oil source in South Australia’s far north, which officials have estimated could be worth $20 trillion.”
This news filled me with so much joy I felt I could explode ― preferably at the headquarters of a fossil fuel giant. Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond said the discovery is “bigger than the Cooper Basin and Bass Strait combined” and he could potentially be “talking Saudi Arabia numbers.”
Wow, that is really great. Just what the world needs now ― as climate scientists insist on the urgent need to draw down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in a bid to prevent runaway climate change with catastrophic consequences. A profit-hungry fossil fuel corporation stumbling across Saudi Arabia-sized reserves.
If you want to sum up what is desperately wrong with Australian politics right now, consider this fact: The news of the discovery of large amounts of shale oil that, if burnt, would make runaway climate change a certainty was met with not a single voice in the mainstream media suggesting that perhaps this stuff is best left in the ground.
And this despite weeks of temperature records being smashed around the country combined with devastating floods and fires ― again.
Instead, the debate was about whether the numbers are really as big as Linc Energy is claiming, with one expert saying no one should get too excited because the numbers should be taken with a “grain of salt.” It might be too expensive, too. That is good to know ― a reason we might not run full-speed ahead off the cliff is it could prove a little too pricey.
The inevitable justification for allowing the ongoing expansion of fossil fuel mining at a time when we need to rapidly re-gear our energy production towards renewables is that allowing a corporation to engage in activities that threaten the ability of the planet to sustain life “creates jobs.”
This argument could be used to justify anything. A big project to organize large-scale nuclear explosions in all major cities would no doubt create a lot of jobs too ― and the post-apocalyptic society would surely be filled with new jobs in the construction trade for whoever is left alive.
Carlo, thank you for this. It’s good to hear that capitalism’s perverted logic is alive and prospering in Australia. I’d hate to think that Canada’s tar sands criminals are the only ones determined to burn the world for a fast buck.