FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Coal vs. the Great Barrier Reef

by THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN

Every year 1,000,000 tons of coal dust blows or washes onto Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This has gone on for the past decade and is set to almost quadruple in the coming years as Australia accelerates its great coal rip off.

Australia’s coal industry admits that it loads 50 million tons of coal every year onto its trains at the mine faces and unloads 49 million tons onto the coal ships at its main port in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

The wind and rains take the million tons of coal dust lost in transit out into the waters of the worlds largest surviving coral reef complex, a World Heritage Site, already under threat from rapidly warming ocean waters.

Of course you wouldn’t know this if you watch CNN’s environmental series featuring  Phillipe Cousteau. No, he blamed the typhoons hitting the Great Barrier Reef and failed to mention how in a few years its expected to see up to 5 million tons a year of coal dust polluting the great reef.

Coal dust is particularly toxic to living things containing nasty elements like mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium just to name a few deadly agents and the residents and fishermen living around Australia’s main coal export port can no longer eat their local sea life, at least not if they care about their health.

As the coal dust continues to blow offshore or be washed into the currents flowing along the great reef we should expect to see ever greater environmental devastation. Every new typhoon stirs up the coal dust on the bottom and this poisoning will just keep on keeping on destroying the great reefs complex ecosystem for centuries to come.

I grew up seeing the coral reefs in my home in Hawaii being destroyed in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s and cut my activist teeth in resisting these crimes. In 1971 I can remember helping put on the Coral Reefs in Crisis Conference in Honolulu as a member of the seminal environmental organization Save Our Surf.

Today I spend much of my time working on how to not just use but to PROTECT one of the last coral reef complex in the world NOT under threat, the Dahlak Archipelago, some 200+ uninhabited islands here in the Red Sea.

The one big difference between the government of Australia and where I have lived these past 7 years here in Eritrea is that our government isn’t about to allow the mining industry to destroy our lands and livelihoods. And the same can be said about the notoriously destructive fishing industry with its trawlers and their nets dragging the ocean bottoms leaving little alive in their wakes. Our reefs are still pristine and full of fish. Groupers, snappers, grunts, parrot fish, bream, mullet, milk fish, tangs, angel fish, gobbies and dottybacks, you name it we seem to have them, lots and lots of them, by the millions in our more than 1,000 kilometers of coastline and over 350 uninhabited islands.

The question is how will these remaining treasures be protected? With the support of the country’s leadership and a lot of hard work by some very committed activists the future here looks pretty good. I am only sorry to say I can’t say the same for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and its losing fight against the great coal rip off.

Thomas C. Mountain is a life long activist, educator and cultural historian who has been living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain_at_yahoo_dot_com  

Thomas C. Mountain attended Punahou School for six years some half a dozen years before “Barry O’Bombers” time there. He has been living and writing from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at g_ mail_ dot _com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail