Terrorism and coal: two killers

Terrorist attacks have killed thousands of people each year world-wide; air pollution from the burning of coal has killed millions.

The Australian government is taking the terrorist threat very seriously. Australia is by far the world's biggest exporter of coal and therefore the Australian government has substantial responsibility for the great many illnesses and deaths that follow from the burning of that coal.

This page written 2017/06/06, last edited 2022/09/17
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

A big screen reminds people in Beijing of what a blue sky looks like
Beijing smog
Air pollution purchased from Australia
Image source: FengLi/Getty Images
This wind farm produces electricity without the air pollution
Waterloo Wind Farm, 
Waterloo Wind Farm, Mid North South Australia
Terrorist attacks have killed an annual average of around 20,000 people world-wide over the last ten years (I believe the total death toll from terrorism in Australia is four in the last two decades).

According to the World Health Organisation (the section on ambient pollution starts on page 4 of the pdf document) around seven million people die each year due to air pollution, much of it due to the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal.

Following recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and an apparently terrorism related murder in Melbourne the Australian government has rightly said that terrorism must be taken very seriously.

Australia exports more coal than any other country; 38% of the world's total coal exports. When this coal is burned the number of deaths caused would have to be at least in the hundreds of thousands. (See 'Is Australia's greatest export death?')

Considering that air pollution from the burning of coal kills something like a hundred times as many people world-wide as does terrorism, considering Australia's heavy involvement in the coal industry – and therefore its degree of responsibility for those deaths, and considering the concern expressed by the Australian government over the terrorism threat, it would be reasonable to suppose that the Australian government would be doing all in its power to reduce the death toll resulting from coal burning. If they had any ethical standards at all you would expect them to be working hard to replace coal with renewable energy as quickly as possible.

Are they?

No, they want to mine even more of this killer commodity; they don't give a damn how many people it kills (or the damage it is doing to our climate and oceans, the burning of fossil fuels is widely recognised as the main cause of climate change, ocean acidification, ocean warming and sea level rise.), there is money in it.

I wonder, if there was a hundredth as much money to be made from terrorism as there is from coal, would our government be supporting terrorism?

Related pages...

Killer coal: a discussion of the disastrous health effects from the coal industry;

Terrorism, how worried should we be about it? What should we do about it?

The greatest crime in the history of humanity;

Many reasons to believe that the end of the coal industry is imminent;

Exporting death: is Australia's most important export death?;

Wind turbines save lives by displacing coal-fired power generation;

Angus Taylor, Australia's shameless Energy Minister;

Australia's Morrison Government, at the service of the fossil fuel industry.