The social impact of coal

Dr Ziggy Switkowski: "In a survey that was taken a few years ago of what were the most important technologies of the 20th Century that shaped society as we know it,  the number one technology that engineers agreed on was electricity and electrification and broadly we accept that ahead of motor cars and televisions and computers in the 20th Century.  So if you accept electricity and energy was the most important force for progress in the 20th Century and then you understand that that's all been generated by coal, a little bit of hydraulic power and a little bit of gas and oil.  Then you've got to accept that coal has been responsible, and fossil fuels in general, for the prosperity that we've all enjoyed and the progress and the enormous benefits on human health and lifestyles etc.  That coal has been, and fossil fuels have been at the heart of that and to deny that is to deny history.  And then to start from that position and say that is now all bad, let's wrench our processes and our economies to move to some alternative, unproven and much more costly, is I think economic and social madness.  And yet some communities, some economies appear to want to do that.  I don't think that's possible in Australia.  I don't think it's sensible and I don't think it's optimal in Australia.  We are blessed with having a very sophisticated energy infrastructure, access to all of the primary fuels, coal, gas, oil, uranium and an economy that has been designed to exploit that to our advantage.  And yes we're all responsible citizens, we want to do the right thing with respect to the environment and to climate, and if we could agree on what those right things are then I think the country would quickly rally behind that direction.  At the moment that direction is too confused and too contradictory for us to have a generally agreed purpose."

Categories: Coal in Australia, Economy, Global Poverty, Resources & Economy
Author: Dr Ziggy Switkowski
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