Flat White

Burning forests to ‘go green!’

Flat White

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Flat White

23 August 2022

11:40 AM

When Michael Moore’s documentary Planet of the Humans exposed the renewables industry as a hypocritical, money-making joke – an embarrassed murder of climate scientists and environmental activists called for it to be pulled from the public forum as they considered it to be ‘dangerous, misleading, and destructive’.

What they probably meant was, ‘Oh crap…

Former left-wing activist Moore had strapped the sacred climate cow to a BBQ, set the whole thing alight in the middle of a vegan pride march, and offered up steaks with soy-flour rolls, smashed avocado, and caramelised cricket wings.

The ideologically confusing meal proved too difficult to swallow. There was panic and fury.

Some library platforms took Planet of the Humans down for ‘misinformation’ while Michael [that’s my hockey stick graph] Mann signed a letter claiming the documentary was full of ‘various distortions, half-truths, and lies’ and that Moore had ‘done a grave disservice to us and the planet by promoting Climate Change inactivist tropes and talking points’.

Planet of the Humans was able to do so much damage to the renewables movement because Moore stood in front of so-called ‘green’ biomass energy plants and showed the industry chopping down forests, mulching them, and burning the resulting piles of wood chips – all under a ‘renewable’ energy rating. He documented mountain forests felled to make way for turbines. Agricultural land suffocated by solar panels. And open-cut mines expanding with the same filthy practices as before. You don’t need a trail of letters after your name to see the farce.

When asked how environmental groups got pulled into supporting biomass, one man replied: ‘Obviously, the main factor is delusion.’

Like watching Maccas make chicken nuggets, the birth of renewables turns the stomachs of even its most devout supporters.

Mark McGowan’s Western Australian government has come out as openly pro-tree hugging and a responsible protector of the environment. Surely, it would not support anything as crazy as burning forests?

The Premier announced in 2021 that by 2024, logging will be banned, offering a $50 million transition package to the industry and $350 million to develop softwood replacements. McGowan’s plan, popular with local voters – I mean – environmentalists, promises to protect ‘400,000 hectares of karri, jarrah, and wandoo’ and 2 million hectares of native forest.

That’s a good thing. Very few people, including conservatives, want to see Australia’s beautiful forests cut down. There are some niggles around the edges, such as the valid criticism that some careful clearing is required for fire breaks, which the Premier should abide by.

Not all environmentalists were fooled by the Premier’s flashy conservation announcement. WA Forest Alliance campaign director Jess Beckerling pointed out at the time that the Premier’s decision left the door open to miners.

‘The Premier’s announcement doesn’t address all of the threats facing the forests. It doesn’t end clearing of jarrah forests for bauxite mining.’

A year on, bauxite mining continues its scorched-earth clearing of the forest, where 100-year-old trees are pulled down, the undergrowth completely removed, and the topsoil stripped so that bulldozers can get at the mineral laying beneath the forest floor.

What remains of the jarrah forests are piled up and burned nearby.

Photographs from a report in The Australianreveal the barren landscape left behind. Is Mark McGowan blind in one eye? Is he wearing horse blinkers to shield him from the hypocrisy underway in his state?

The bauxite mines are reported to be booming because of the Premier’s ‘green push’ as the soil beneath the jarrah forests is rich in copper, platinum, cobalt, nickel, and palladium – resources desperately needed to build wind turbines and solar panels.

While eco-warriors stroke their nearest solar panel and congratulate themselves on saving the planet, they fail to see the burning corpses of the WA forest smouldering beside it.

Uranium for nuclear power is mined in the middle of nowhere where it sits, buried in deserts. Renewables minerals are clustered beneath forests or scattered on the sea floor. If you didn’t like open-cut mines, you’ll like them even less in the middle of a forest.

As ecologist Kingsley Dixon said in The Australian:

‘It’s one of the toughest ecological projects on the planet. There have been few cases of successful large-scale restoration anywhere. This is the largest strip-mining activity in a global biodiversity hot spot. Yet we are in a sophisticated Western country.’

How do operations like this keep their social licenses?

State Premiers will stop at nothing to close fossil fuel mines to ‘protect the environment’, but they keep awfully quiet about some of the worst eco-vandalism in precious biodiversity regions because – why again? Is it because raising an objection would require Premiers like McGowan to admit there is a dark side to renewables? Even if he did come clean, strip-mining for renewables would no doubt be justified as a necessary evil.

Sometimes, you have to burn the forests to save them … unless you switch to mining uranium in the middle of the desert instead.

Dixon, who spoke on the issue back in the 80s and 90s when it was believed the forests could be recovered after strip-mining, had this to say:

‘I’m quoted back in the 1990s saying, “Regrettable as bauxite mining is, we’ve got the best company doing it.” […] We went to their mine sites and the footprint seemed small. There was a wonderful research team that we were fully engaged with. We thought at the time that the jarrah forest was inexhaustible, and that nature was boundlessly resilient. All was patently untrue and we had no idea that the company was aiming to double their annual clearing.’

Perhaps this is why Western Australia’s rare earths are sometimes called a ‘curse’? Or maybe the real curse is a Premier who’d rather let the forests burn than embrace a nuclear future…

Don’t worry, the mining site has ‘announced its support for a new project trialling renewable energy in the alumina refining process at a facility in Western Australia’. It’s a new process called Mechanical Vapour Recompression ‘using renewable energy to recycle waste steam that would otherwise be exhausted into the atmosphere’ in the process that smelts bauxite into aluminium.

The question is, does it matter if the process begins by razing forests?

Don’t get me wrong, it may well be the case that you have to burn a few forests to end up with aluminium, but Premiers like McGowan need to stop parading around like climate saviours – because they’re not. Far from it.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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