Up With Trees - Down With Capitalism
Written By: Gabe Love
ACP Candidate Member
Climate change is the greatest existential crisis we face today. Greenhouse gas emissions are causing increases in global average air and ocean temperatures. Rising global sea levels and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation and regional weather patterns are influencing seasonal rainfall conditions. As capitalists line their pockets, all life on earth is being driven to extinction. 71% of global emissions are attributed to 100 corporations and with the situation drastically growing, it is clear that the solution does not lie in bourgeois electoral politics. This problem is epitomized by the Adani mine that is being built in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. A multinational corporation is attempting to build the largest coal mine in Australian history, that will; destroy the ancestral lands, waters and cultures of Indigenous people, allow 500 more coal ships to travel through the Great Barrier Reef every year, risk damaging aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin and add 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution to our atmosphere.
“Threatening the habitat of local sea life such as dolphins and turtles, there would be hundreds more coal ships ploughing through the Reef’s waters every year”
Stopping the Adani mine is incredibly important for the future of the Great Barrier Reef and for those living around the mine. Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise, which in turn is leading to more catastrophic weather events and coral bleaching. The mine will also require over a million cubic metres of seafloor to be dredged for a new coal terminal, threatening the habitat of local sea life such as dolphins and turtles. There would be hundreds more coal ships ploughing through the Reef’s waters every year, increasing the risk of accidents.
Not only does the mine impose on the safety of the natural environment in surrounding areas, it is also proposed to be built on the ancestral lands of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. In their own words. if the mine goes ahead, it would tear the heart out of the land. The scale of this mine means it would have devastating impacts on ancestral lands and waters, totemic plants and animals and environmental and cultural heritage. The Wangan and Jagalingou people applied in 2004 for recognition of their native title for an area northwest of Emerald in Central Queensland. This includes the location for which the mine is proposed. The National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) has registered the Wangan and Jagalingou People’s native title claim but the application is still pending. Registration of their native title claim gives the Wangan and Jagalingou people a right to negotiate in relation to government decisions that may affect their native title interests, such as the grant of a mining lease, under the future acts regime of the NTA. On the 8th of April, 2015 a grant for a mining lease was approved by the NNTT for Adani. An elder of the Wangan and Jagalingou People, Adrian Burragubba, appealed this determination to the Federal Court but the application was dismissed. Further litigation into the mining lease was dismissed another two times over the following years.
Adani has a sordid history of environmental vandalism. In 2011, a ship carrying 60000 tonnes of Adani coal sank off the coast of Mumbai which in turn led to devastation of local marine life and tourism. In Mundra, India, Adani illegally cleared 75 hectares of land, resulting in the flooding of a local village and killing of all the local fish, leaving locals who had traditionally relied on fishing and farming to survive with a completely barren landscape. In 2010, Adani’s Australian CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj oversaw the overall operations at a copper mine in Zambia where the company poisoned the Kafue river which has resulted in the sickness and deaths of many local Zambians. Adani also has a history of crime and corruption.
“Adani’s increasing use of automation, such as driverless trucks, the majority of jobs created will be in cities in areas such as engineering and technology rather than jobs in the mine face itself”
A common argument against the stopping of the Adani mine is the fear that without the mine, local workers will be left unemployed with no way of putting food on the table. While this fear is completely understandable, we cannot rely on an immoral multinational corporation to have the best interests of the local workers in mind. This is clearly reflected in their history. During the construction of a housing project in Gujarat in India, labourers were forced to live in makeshift houses with sanitary conditions so dismal that workers suffered several outbreaks of cholera from contaminated drinking water. Almost a quarter of workers were paid less than the minimum wage of $4 a day, and Adani forced many workers to wait for months for their pay, while they lived on a $9 a week 'food allowance'. Since 2012, across 2 Adani power stations, 10 people have died due to unregulated safety standards. Professor John Rolfe from CQU has warned that due to Adani’s increasing use of automation, such as driverless trucks, the majority of jobs created will be in cities in areas such as engineering and technology rather than jobs in the mine face itself. This is exactly the case in Western Australia, where Perth has become the hub for the majority of the mining services in WA.
“A planned, regulated and democratic economy would be required, i.e. Socialism”
This may appear to be an issue of a single employer, but this is not the case. The Adani issue is but a symptom of the disease that is capitalism. Capitalism is fuelled by production based on infinite accumulation, despite the consequences to people or the natural world. To end climate change and the exploitation of the working class, we must end capitalism. The IPCC’s October 2018 report declared that preventing further climate change will require “far-reaching transitions in energy, land … and industrial systems” for which there is “no documented historic precedent.” To achieve this, a planned, regulated and democratic economy would be required, i.e. socialism. Not only is the prevention of climate change irreconcilable with capitalism, climate change itself serves the best interests of the bourgeoisie, with neoliberal policies using the crises to which they themselves contribute as opportunities for continued economic expansion. Thus, it is impossible for social democratic policies such as carbon taxes to effectively stop climate change. This was clearly the case in British Columbia in Canada, where the introduction of a carbon tax actually saw a rise in carbon emissions. The only way forward is through the rapid revolutionary transformation of our capitalist economy into a socialist one. In the meantime, we can still fight Adani on an individual level to prevent the complete destruction of our land and the homes of indigenous peoples.
To do so, visit “stopadani” at “https://www.stopadani.com/” for more information.