Grant Howard lives in Queensland and is a coal miner currently working in the Bowen Basin
At 17, fresh out of school, I landed my first job as a coal miner and have been doing that ever since. I grew up in a coal heartland of Wollongong, south of Sydney, the location of some of the oldest mines in the country. As a teenager, I took mining for granted, just like I took the amazing beaches, beautiful escarpment and bush for granted.
I have worked in all aspects of underground coal operations, including longwall extraction, developing access roads, methane drainage and supervising coal mining crews in these processes.
For the last two decades I have been lucky to live and work in Queensland. I have worked through boom and bust cycles where mining corporations hired workers, then laid them off and shut mines when it suited. I witnessed the growth of automation which has led to a contraction of jobs, and will continue to do so in the future. I have also seen the industry talk up job prospects to get their latest mine approved, and then seen the actual numbers drop once production began.
In recent years I bought a piece of land outside of Mackay where I stay when I’m not rostered on in the Bowen Basin. I’ve grown to love this block but I worry about its survival too, having witnessed the severe impacts of extended heatwaves and changing rainfall patterns on the bush and the animals that live there.
After watching what climate change is doing to my land, and knowing that burning fossil fuels is making these extreme conditions worse, it strikes me we have a clear choice. We can protect Queensland’s unique way of life and exceptional environment by transitioning to clean energy. Or dig more coal, for limited jobs and economic benefit, at a time when the trend away from coal is accelerating.Read more
Mackay Conservation Group recently sponsored a community bushfire forum in Kuttabul so that locals could find out more about the future likelihood of fires and how to prepare.
Andrew Houley from the Rural Fire Service said that firefighters use the night time, when temperature and wind speed falls, to get on top of bushfires.
The BoM data shows that our region currently has about 15 nights per year with a minimum temperature above 25°C. In the worst-case scenario we may suffer through nearly 50 hot nights in 2030 and up to about 160 by 2090. That will make it much harder for Rural Fire Brigade volunteers to do their job.
🚨 A fast-growing number of countries, nations, territories and cities are accepting the science and declaring climate emergencies. 🚨
This includes entire countries of the UK, Canada and Portugal and the nations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The City Councils of London, New York and Auckland have also joined the list.
In Australia, 25 areas have declared climate emergencies including the Australian Capital Territory and the city councils of Sydney, Hobart and Fremantle.
So what exactly is a climate emergency declaration? And will it mean climate action?
Central Queenslanders are feeling the impacts of climate change. The region suffered through the hottest summer on record that inflicted seemingly endless weeks of extreme heat, wild fires in Eungella National Park and unprecedented flooding that is estimated to have killed half a million cattle or more in the Townsville region.
Unfortunately the Australian government’s response to this is to open up the Galilee Basin to build Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and up to 8 more mega coal mines in the region.
The carbon emissions from these mines were they to go ahead would increase dangerous climate change here in Australia but all around the world with devastating consequences.Read more
If there’s a single lesson for politicians from last week’s Victorian election it is that voters want political parties to develop rational policies and stand by them. Despite a major scare campaign around law and order, the ALP leader, Daniel Andrews, stuck to his reasoned platform and was rewarded with a hugely increased majority. He displayed leadership and authority over his party, maintaining a steady course all the way to polling day. With a federal election looming there must be more than a few MPs and candidates contemplating their future in the light of the Victorian result.Read more
Mackay Conservation Group community organiser, Maggie Mckeown, recently made a presentation to Mackay Regional Council about the impacts of climate change on the region. Here's what she said.
Mackay city is a low lying coastal city in an part of the world that is frequently threatened by tropical cyclones. Last year the city dodged a bullet when Cyclone Debbie changed course and did not arrive in Mackay. We know that there was an unprecedented level of preparation for the cyclone but all that would have been completely insufficient had Debbie made landfall in Mackay simultaneous with a 5.8 metre tide. Most of the urban area would have been inundated and potentially significant numbers of casualties. We have seen two very large cyclones in Northern Queensland over the past decade, Yasi and Debbie. Predictions are that cyclones will become larger and more destructive as ocean temperatures rise due to global warming. The cost of dealing with major climate related events is significant both locally and globally. Cyclone Debbie cost insurers $1.56 billion by November. That will undoubtedly lead to increased insurance premiums and increased difficulty in obtaining insurance for those in cyclone prone zones. The cost to the Queensland economy has been estimated at over $2 billion with mining, agriculture and tourism industries were severely disrupted by the cyclone.
The Mackay region is not alone in facing climate induced catastrophes. Right now we are witnessing Cape Town in South Africa, a city with a population of 3.7 million about to run out of water, the first city that magnitude to do so. The water supply failure has been blamed on poor city management but without three years of unprecedented drought the city would not be facing a crisis. Closer to home, Pacific Islanders in places such as Kiribati have seen sea level rise make parts of their island nation uninhabitable. Sixteen percent of the land area of India is dependent on glacial fed Himalayan streams. Those glaciers that maintain stream flows during summer and winter are melting. Initially that means more rapid flows and floods but in the long term it means drought and chronic food and water shortages. All these events and many more are inevitable consequences of a hotter climate which in turn is brought about by human burning of fossil fuels.Read more
Areas in North Queensland, like Townsville, are experiencing their driest wet season on record, and the Bureau of Meterology is declaring a major El Nino, further South we’re seeing unprecedented storms and heavy rainfalls. This is extreme weather.
Australia is already at the forefront of climate change impacts but we’re not seeing leadership from our local politicians. Even though we have a climate sceptical local member in George Christensen MP, Abbot needs to know there are people in Mackay - and elsewhere! - that want to see strong targets at the climate talks in Paris.
Please sign the petition, which is part of a national petition that will be presented on 25th May to national leaders (wording courtesy of WWF)
Climate change is a matter of concern for all of us, and on November 13 Mackay Conservation Group joined with GetUp! and the members of the local community in a national day of action of climate.
Over 40 people gathered at Jim Mulherin Park for a colourful and though provoking event.