The recent article on The Guardian titled “Coal Mining threatens Great Barrier Reef” has motivated this post, about the effects of burning fossil fuels and how using non-renewable energy has affected the environment, especially in recent times.
There is no doubt that Australia is an economy that is heavily dependent on mining with its rich natural resources. The mining industry has also provided countless jobs, supported many families, and contributes to a large part of the country’s GDP. Coal mining is a good efficient source of energy, an inexpensive source of energy and allows the country to be independent in its power generation.
However the use of coal mines to generate energy has always been a controversial issue, especially in recent times where improvements in technology has allowed multiple different renewable energy options to be made available.
To paint a picture, coal is most commonly obtained by digging mines into the ground, closer to the centre of the Earth. The coal then needs to be washed in a coal preparation plant, and grinded into fragments by the pulverizer. It is then burned to create heat energy and therefore generates electricity.
The article as mentioned above outlines the threat the Great Barrier Reef, an endangered World Heritage Site faces in light of the growing coal mining industry. This has not only been because of the extra carbon dioxide emissions created through burning coal that has affected the rise in global temperature, but now also the growing coal loading developments along the Queensland northern coast.
Today, the ease of access to renewable energy gives us the opportunity to generate our own energy, just on our rooftops by harvesting the natural energy of the sun. However, less than 1% of total electricity in Australia is generated through solar systems, especially with Australia having such a sunny and dry climate, achieving an excess of 4kWh per square meter per day. This amount exceeds average values of many other developed countries including Europe, Russia and most of North America.
Most importantly, an endangered World Heritage Site should not be facing threats from an industry that not only negatively impacts on the environment, but already has such a strong presence in Australia.