Once the horse has bolted you can stand around at the gate, scratching your head, immobilised by the problem. Or you can pretend it’s still there; in your mind you still have a horse.
These are not very helpful responses, but it’s what we’re seeing from our state and federal governments when it comes to coal. Their obsession with the energy source of the past is holding us back in the shift to a cleaner, greener future.
And the situation is becoming a little bizarre. So AGL, an energy company, wants to shut down the Liddel coal-fired power station in the Hunter region. Back in the early 1970s, it was the most powerful generating station in Australia. But now the old workhorse is decrepit and expensive to maintain. It’s belching carbon dioxide. AGL has worked out there are probably better ways to make money, long term.
But now our Prime Minister is practically begging the company to keep the old thing going a bit longer. Instead of encouraging a cleaner industry that would take seriously our responsibility to the future, the Prime Minister has decided to hitch his wagon to the past.
Meanwhile, the extreme weather events associated with climate change are already upon us. These include an early fire season in this state and new temperature records for spring. Severe, souped-up storms and flooding are being experienced around the world as warmer oceans ramp up the effects of seasonal hurricanes.
We can stand around scratching our heads, or we can learn about the reality of the world we’re living in and try to take a responsible action. This is a process that should be led by our politicians, but they are beholden to the coal lobby. This lobby is benefitting from the anti-science flummery of climate denial that sows just enough doubt and confusion to shore up returns on historical investment.
The alternative is disruptive. The gleaming solar farm proposed for Brewongle is bothering those with farms nearby. This disruption, as the world shifts from fossil fuel to renewables, is being played out across the world. But we managed to live through the shift from the horse and cart to motorcar, from the quill and ink to the computer keyboard. Change is difficult and perplexing but, like a bolting horse, very difficult to stop once it gets going. So: see you later horse. Thanks for all the rides but I’m onto something new.
Tracy Sorensen is the President of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Visit www.bccan.org.au.