The Coal Truth

Last week, I spoke at a forum on Adani and indigenous rights organized by the UQ Human Rights Consortium. It was an excellent line-up, with

Murrawah Johnson – Youth Spokesperson Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council, Activist of the Year (Ngara Institute) and on the 50 Grist list – acknowledging her place amongst the world’s best and brightest fighting for the planet.

Dr Michelle Maloney – Co-founder and National Convenor, Australian Earth Laws Alliance

David Ritter – Chief Executive Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and author of The Coal Truth: The Fight to Stop Adani, Defeat the Big Polluters and Reclaim Our Democracy which is well worth buying and reading.

Having contributed to The Coal Truth I was very interested to meet David Ritter. I was particularly impressed that he took the time to respond personally to this long-ago post, attacking Greenpeace for the sabotage of a CSIRO experiment on GM crops. David assured me that Greenpeace had repudiated this action and re-established a good relationship with CSIRO.  There’s plenty of room for legitimate dispute about the issue of GM crops (I’m dubious, thought not opposed outright) but none about the kind of tactics used in that case.

8 thoughts on “The Coal Truth

  1. Greenpeace has many merits, but internal democracy is not one of them. It is analogous to Communist parties and the International Olympic Committee: a cooptative oligarchy. There is no mass membership system, just insiders and supporters, and the network of foundations that make it up are accountable to no-one but each other. The Leninist system allows decisive decision-making, clear priorities (like them or not) and secrecy, which are all valuable in the campaigning business. But Greenpeace is in no position to give lectures on democracy.

    BTW, democracy may be overrated for non-governmental organisations. The governing body of world soccer, FIFA, is much more democratically structured than the IOC. FIFA is accountable to its national member associations, who in turn are accountable to their members. But it is far more corrupt: because FIFA owns the TV rights for the World Cup, and controls the flow of money to the national federations. Blatter bought their votes to keep him in power indefinitely. The Olympics in contrast are huge money pits. The IOC is not rich and relies on a confidence trick of prestige to sustain its huge self-importance.

  2. The efficacy and desirability of GM crops is as rock solid as climate science, in my opinion.

    The proviso is that that all GM products, including crops, must be strictly regulated. Without strict regulation, something seriously pear shaped could definitely happen.

    If Bangladeshi farmers want to live healthier and make more money by growing bt eggplants I won’t stand in their way: ****news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/07/bt-eggplant-improving-lives-bangladesh

    It would be depressing if the Adani mine went ahead. We definitely need more Sanjeev Gupta’s, an Indian billionaire with inspirational vision: ***www.afr.com/business/energy/electricity/sanjeev-gupta-steps-up-137b-renewable-energy-build-near-whyalla-steelworks-20180814-h13zcc

  3. No, there is NOT ‘room for legitimate dispute about the issue of GM crops’. The science is unequivocal.
    Stop denying science. It makes you no better than those who deny climate science.

  4. It’s crunch time on Climate Change or Anthropogenic Global Warming. There is no more time for prevarication and procrastination on this issue.

    Part of the IPCC Summary from The Guardian:-

    “The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only 12 years (for AGW) to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C and avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.

    The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.”

    Note the words “catastrophic environmental breakdown” and “urgent and unprecedented changes”. These are the words of sober scientists in a consensus report. We have to radically change the whole complex of political power, socioeconomic interaction, political economy and production/impact decisions in our global civilization. It’s that or face “catastrophic environmental breakdown” which would be followed by catastrophic civilizational breakdown.

  5. @Mike,

    I assume Prof Quiggin had in mind problems like lax regulations and overly complacent regulators. In America a GM bentgrass released by Scotts that was meant for golf courses is now a serious agricultural weed. To rub salt into the wounds, the USDA has told Scotts it no longer has to spend a red cent to mitigate the damage! No one denies this is a major blunder. https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.11/plants-genetically-modified-grass-creeps-across-eastern-oregon

  6. and.
    here in the west glysophate resistent “canola” otherwise known as rapeseed can and does cross with other rapa relatives that infest grain crops .
    any GM contamination detected in a farmers crop, lowers the price received.
    also, GM “canola” does not match the price returns of non GM canola.

  7. “The 1970s called and asked what we did with the miracle of genetic engineering.”
    “Tell them we used it to make herbicide resistant grass for golf courses.”

  8. Off topic but re: your TGA article addressing need to take the electricity grid back into public ownership.

    Privatisation of NSW generators and retailers by the state Liberal goverment needs closer scrutiny.

    AGL and Origin where the two largest beneficiaries of NSW sell-off. If you look behind the corporate veil, both are majority owned by a cartel of the exactly the same, mostly foreign, merchant banks. Their spread of ownership across both AGL and Origin is inexplicably divided up consistently with HSBC at the top for both.

    Former Premier Mike Baird worked for HSBC immediately before entering politics. He now works at NAB, whose major shareholder is also HSBC.

    One other NSW power station was sold to a consortium of coal barons, headed by a Mr Brian Flannery, infamous for his role in Eddie Obeid’s ICAC hearings. The purchase price for this power station was a measly $1M. It’s on the books of the new private owner for $377M.

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