The madness of society is not restricted solely to the goings on in the UK; where we have fracking and lobbyists, EDL and UKIP, so does Australia with Coal Seam Gas (CSG), Reclaim Australia and Tony Abbott.
But more about the fascists another time. Today I want to talk about mother Australia – my third trip here and a place I feel at home in. It’s the place that rekindled my human spirit and desire to forge a better life for those that come after us.
Australia, home to 25 million or so people mainly dotted around the sublime coastline, has some of the most diverse eco-systems and landscapes of anywhere on this world. It is home to the worlds largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, it truly is a beautiful place but also the bearer of scars of a rough history of indifference and violence towards aboriginal people and the land.
Australia has seen a boom of engineering and colonisation over 200 years that have left it with some delicate issues with its eco-system, exacerbated in the last 6 years by the mining boom which staved off some of the economic pressures faced by the rest of the world since the recession of 2008. The trade off has been a strain on natural resources.
The CSG issue is what the UK call ‘fracking’ – the process of using some water to hydraulically fracture the earths crust to get some fossil fuel. In Australia, people have been launching a campaign called ‘Lock the Gate‘ to ward off would be drillers as land owners shut the doors on these vultures, the government however, are currently in the process of changing legislation to remove the requirement for these drilling companies to ask a land owners permission to conduct exploratory drilling. As a result they get to keep what they find and the land owner gets nothing but dead land.
Now, when I say they use ‘some’ water when fracturing, I mean 9 MILLION litres of water or more, depending on the rock formation. 9 million litres, when only 3% of the worlds water is fresh water or drinking water. 9 million litres when the South East of England is water stressed and water companies are considering pumping in water from the north to cope with the strain.
What of Australia, one of the driest continents on the planet? Victoria recently completed a multi billion dollar desalination plant off the back of a 15 year drought to combat the situation in advance, only for it to rain a little and put off that particular problem for now, but they still recommend showers be kept to less than 4 minutes and public conveniences are supplied from collected rain water. Why, then, would they use a resource as important as water to fracture the earths crust in pursuit of an antiquated fuel source??
Aside from the fact that using water to fracture the earth for fossil fuel is out right madness and a sign of desperation from the energy companies to hold on to power, there are the well documented issues around what happens to the land once the earth has been fractured. There is also the issue of increased seismic activity as a result of these exploratory drills and pumping sites.
A country with as much solar activity as Australia, it’s huge desert plains and tidal sources should be investing heavily in renewable and sustainable energy. When you consider the little things done to preserve the beauty of the country, it is amazing to think that the government are pushing CSG as a real alternative.