Letter published Bairnsdale Advertiser (1.12)
I write in response to the full page advertisements by Kalbar Resources in the East Gippsland News (22.11) and Bairnsdale Advertiser (24.11)
The advertisement claims that the Fingerboards mineral sands project will “create jobs and protect the environment.” This is so much ‘greenwash’.
Missing from the ads and not required in any Environment Effects Statement is the amount of greenhouse gas – mainly carbon dioxide – that the project will produce. Estimates of this are over 200,000 tons per annum.
For those of your readers not familiar with the basic physics (like some recent correspondents) the greenhouse effect is what keeps our planet warm. Since the industrial revolution the burning of fossil fuels has increased the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by more than 40% and the planet has warmed by an average of one degree.
Whilst this may not seem much it is already heavily influencing extreme weather events, especially heatwaves, and is causing an unknown number of fatalities amongst the young and elderly in Gippsland. The heatwave preceding Black Saturday in 2009 caused an extra 370 fatalities in south east Australia on top of the 172 tragically killed by the bushfires.
With the warming also comes ocean expansion and sea level rise. Even the modest rises predicted by 2100 will see Lakes Entrance regularly going under and the Gippsland Lakes doomed. Well before this date climate refugees in their millions will be fleeing from low lying lands in Bangladesh, China and many other places. The last time greenhouse gas concentrations were at current levels (about 4 million years ago) the sea level was 26 m higher than it is now.
This means that all major projects in Gippsland should aim to be carbon neutral. Perhaps as a community service Kalbar can produce a ‘carbon budget’ showing how this neutrality will be achieved. To paraphrase well-known barrister Julian Burnside if you can’t fix climate nothing else matters.