Pearson on anti-coal zealots

Christopher Pearson writes in The Australian on the Greenpeace campaign to destroy the coal industry.

It had all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory from the 1960s, except that it was true. The operatives matter-of-factly plotting to wreak havoc on the coal industry weren’t reds, anarchists or nihilists. They were eco-warriors who’d taken James Hansen, the high priest of the global warming cult, quite literally when he described coal trains as rivers of death. They were going to undermine the national economy for the sake of a greater good.

[…]They list the six elements of the anti-coal movement’s strategy. “1. Disrupt and delay key infrastructure. 2. Constrain the space for mining. 3. Increase investor risk. 4. Increase costs. 5. Withdraw the social licence of the coal industry. 6. Build a powerful movement.”

The first four are standard features of commercial sabotage, but the last two deserve further comment. Talk of withdrawing coal’s “social licence” is a rhetorical flourish much favoured by Tim Flannery. It’s a reminder of Hayek’s axiom that social is a weasel word that sucks the meaning out of just about any noun with which it’s bracketed; the most obvious example being social justice. The people who are proposing to withdraw coal’s social licence are not in the least representative of Australian society. They’re a tiny bunch of zealots with messianic delusions.

The last objective, to build a powerful movement, gives the game away because it admits that the anti-coal activists aren’t really a broadly based, grassroots organisation at all. It also suggests a group interested in accumulating power for its own sake, rather than as a means to a particular end, as though there were parts of a gnosis yet to be revealed.


About Climate Nonconformist

Hi, I'm the climatenonconformist (not my real name), and I am a global warming skeptic, among the few in generation Y. With Australia facing the prospect of a carbon tax, we need to be asking the simple question; where is the evidence that our emissions are causing any dangerous warming?
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One Response to Pearson on anti-coal zealots

  1. Sean says:

    There is a new nemesis for coal, unconventional gas. Ironically, it seems to be found in regions rich in coal, just a few thousand feet further down. If it’s extraction and use is cheaper, it is cleaner to burn and power plants can be sited in town where waste heat can be put to use. I also don’t think the change over is socially disruptive as the companies that own coal mineral rights will own the gas rights and the same work force can be retrained for gas extraction and distribution. But when the gas runs out, folks will go back to the coal.

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