"Coal is good for humanity"

Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott infamously said, "Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world." (At the opening of the Caval Ridge Mine in Central Queensland, 2014/10/13; ABC on-line news.)

Mr Abbott would have to be, along with Scott Morrison, among the worst Australian prime ministers in living memory.

This page will show how great a lie that was.

Written 2014/11/04, last edited 2023/11/11
Contact: David K Clarke – ©


Hazelwood coal mine fire
Coal mine fire and message
Victoria's Latrobe Valley, February 2014
Science is telling us that the mining and burning of coal:
  1. is one of the main causes of climate change;
  2. is one of the main causes of ocean acidification;
  3. is one of the main causes of sea level rise;
  4. produces air pollution that kills millions of people each year.
The media, in their reporting of the economic news, are telling us that coal has no future.

Economists have told us the the PM's 'Direct Action' plan to lower emissions is unlikely to work and very likely to be a waste of tax-payer's money. (How can it be better to tax people and pay that money to polluters to get them to stop polluting rather than simply taxing the polluters? See Wilcox cartoon.)

The Abbott Liberal government is telling us that coal can be cleaned-up by things like 'carbon capture and storage' (CCS), yet nowhere in the world has anyone set up a coal-fired power station from scratch that successfully uses CCS. There is every reason to believe that CCS will never be economically competative to renewables such as wind and solar PV.

On 2014/11/11 Energy China Forum reported that "In 2012, 670 000 people died across the country because of issues which are related to the exploitation of coal. That is not only a tragedy, it is also expensive. Professor Teng told the South China Morning Post that damaging the people's health and the environment comes at a cost of about 260 yuan (over $40) for each ton produced and used."

Waterloo Wind Farm, South Australia
Wind farm
Wind farms such as this produce clean, emissions-free, energy
PM Abbott seems to hate them.
At the same time as he is flogging the dead horse named Coal, PM Abbott is trying to stop renewable energy development in Australia.

Why does he push coal and bag renewables? Renewables are obviously the way of the future (for example, in 2002 South Australia had no wind power and negligible solar; in 2014 about 33% of SA's electricity was coming from wind turbines and another 5% from solar). The renewable energy industry employs just as many people as does the coal industry and is at least as good for the Australian economy.

It seems that our PM supports the coal industry because the coal industry supports the Australian Liberal Party. Government for sale!

Surely PM Abbott is the most corrupt, dishonest, regressive, out-of-touch-with-reality Prime Minister Australia has ever had! And the remainder of the Parliamentary Liberal Party are the most unethical bunch of weak-willed lackeys we have ever had the misfortune to see running our country.

While the Labor politicians are a little better, they are still beholden to the fossil fuel industry and are not as committed to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions as the future of the planet needs.

Huge increase in air pollution from Australian coal mines

Environmental Justice Australia April 2015; National Pollutant Inventory data showed large increases in air pollution from coal mining in the last five years.

I suppose PM Abbott will tell us this is good for us too?

Coal is good for Delhi?

An article in the Guardian Weekly (Australian edition) of 2015/07/03 written by Jason Burke recorded some of the effects of air pollution in Delhi:
  • The worst hit are "children, particularly those between two and seven". There are fears that millions "will suffer serious health problems later in life";
  • "If you look at lung function, there is significant decline with constant exposure. This will probably be irreversable";
  • "One study found that half of Delhi's 4.4 million schoolchildren would never recover full lung function".
Much of the air pollution in Delhi, as elsewhere in India, which according to WHO has 13 of the dirtiest 20 cities in the world, is due to the burning of coal, and at least some of that coal comes from Australia.

Coal is good for China?

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
In August 2015 a study published in Plos One by Robert Rohde and Richard A. Muller, of the University of California, reported that air pollution (much of it from the burning of coal) contributed to about 1.6 million deaths each year in China. That is about 4000 a day or one person every 20 seconds. The research indicated that air pollution contributed to about 17% of all deaths in China.

Wilcox cartoon

After abolishing the carbon tax brought in the the Gillard Labor government PM Abbott proposes paying businesses to reduce their pollution.