The true price of coal

The true price of coal

I finally got around to reading Bill McKibben’s article in the June edition of The Monthly this week. Titled ‘False Profits’, it looks at the impact of Australia’s coal mining and export industry on global climate change, and what we need to do if we want to minimise that impact (hint: stop mining and exporting so much coal).

As a relative newcomer to the cause, I liked this article for a few reasons – not least of them being that McKibben, who is president and co-founder of 350.org, is a pretty rad guy. He’s a great writer, and here he’s managed to present a very emotive issue in a reasonable, balanced way. For the uninitiated (especially those living in Australia), it’s a good entry point to the issue of climate change: it identifies the internationally accepted two-degree warming limit, and the roughly 500 gigatons of carbon we can release into the atmosphere worldwide before we breach it. It then points out the percentage of that carbon Australia’s coal-mining industry will produce if we don’t leave the stuff in the ground: roughly 30 per cent at last estimate, meaning changing the behaviour of individual Australians is far less important than reshaping our resource industries. Read more…