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Adani gets it's filthy hands on QLD's Galilee Basin; Insurers feast on climate refugee misery.

9 min read
Platypus {Ornithorhynchus anatinus} swimming underwater Tasmania, Australia. Commposite.

The moment of crisis has come. Sir David Attenborough

Adani is a global company based in Ahmedabad, India. Adani and its CEO, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, have their fingerprints over some of the worst environmental extraction sites on the planet. The company builds power plants and operates them with coal and gas. They dabble in green energy technologies but, their claim to infamy is their bottom line of exploitation of fossil fuels that has massive impacts on the world’s climate. The burning of coal and oil are the fuels generating dangerous levels of CO2 so high that it has raised temperatures to levels that humans have experienced before.

Adani exploits the finite resources of Indonesia, India, and Australia. Controversial, to say the least, is a proposed mine in the Australian state of Queensland known as the Galilee Basin.

The unspoiled basin has Australian politicians and fossil fuel corporations salivating over the riches ripe for exploitation. They have promoted cattle grazing in National Parks, repealed the Wild Rivers Act,  played God with the extinction of the Southern Black-throated Finch. The mine will cause abrupt fragmentation of local wildlife habitat, renowned forests, and marshland destroyed in the currently unspoiled basin. The Great Artesian Basin, the world’s largest artesian basin on earth, will be impacted by mining operations as they require enormous amounts of water.

The Carmichael Mine will require the building of roads and rail lines into the heart of indigenous land and draining the artesian basin. One of the last roadblocks holding back Adani fell when the Queensland government eliminated the claims of the Wangan and Jagalingou people to their land.

The Sydney Morning Herald shares an opinion piece titled, This drying continent can’t afford Adani’s pipeline to 12.5 billion litres of precious water.

Tony Windsor writes:

Dry times come and go but one thing is for sure: there is a bigger player in Australia’s weather systems than the El Niño siblings – climate change. Our top scientists are predicting that eastern Australia is only going to get less and more intermittent rainfall as our planet heats up.

Ignoring the recent warning signs – unprecedented drought and bushfire – and carrying on as normal is to risk vast areas of Australia.

At the last federal election the Coalition weaponised the Adani coal-mine issue to portray Labor as having a tin-ear for the concerns of regional Australia. But for all the bravado, the simple truth is that Adani will not be the saviour of regional Queensland. Far from it.

On its face, Adani’s river pipeline demands scrutiny. Adani’s mine could lead to other large and thirsty coal mines in the Galilee Basin. For such a vast quantity of water extraction to get waved through by the minister, particularly during a time of drought, would undermine the very purpose of the water trigger and betray the communities she is duty-bound to protect.

It could also set a very bad precedent of allowing mining companies to carve up their projects into smaller pieces to escape scrutiny. Splitting off components of a mining proposal and assessing them in isolation makes a nonsense of the process. You don’t see much looking at just one piece of the jigsaw – you need to look at the whole puzzle.

Australians watched with horror earlier this year as hundreds of thousands of native fish, including Murray cod and golden perch, died at Menindee Lakes in the Darling River. While drought had a hand in this catastrophe, so too did the failure of regulators to appropriately balance the water needs of agriculture, people and the environment.

Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone writes on the threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

The approval of the Adani project is an aggressive attack on the 1,600-mile-long reef in two deadly ways. First, by condoning the mining and burning of coal, which is heating up and acidifiying the oceans and killing coral reefs, Australian politicians are essentially saying they are willing to sacrifice one of the great wonders of the world for a few jobs for their pals and some extra cash in their pockets. In fact, a key part of the Adani project is a new coal terminal on the Queensland coast, which is right at the edge of the Barrier Reef. That means more industrialization in the area, more water pollution, more coal barges floating over the reef, more risk of disasters that would dump dirty black rocks on one of nature’s crown jewels.

The mine is insane on another level, too. The coal will be exported to India, a nation that is hugely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is struggling to make the transition to clean energy. Last week, at the same moment that Queensland politicians were approving the Adani project, northern India was sweltering under a 120-degree F heat wave so brutal that people were advised not to venture outdoors after 11 a.m. and a 33-year-old man was beaten to death in a dispute over water.

The Adani mine would be unviable without huge government subsidies.

Australian governments will give $4.4bn in effective subsidies to Adani’s Carmichael coal project, which would otherwise be “unbankable and unviable”, a new analysis has found.

The report, by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, concluded that the project would benefit from several Australian taxpayer–funded arrangements – including subsidies, favourable deals and tax concessions – over its 30-year project life.

It said the project would be further supported by public handouts, tax breaks and special treatment provided to Adani Power, the proposed end-user of the thermal coal in India.

“If these subsidies were not being provided, Adani’s Carmichael thermal coal mine would be unbankable and unviable,” the report said.

Platypus {Ornithorhynchus anatinus} swimming underwater Tasmania, Australia. Commposite.
Platypuses build their burrows in the soft riverbank. These burrows act a home as well as a place for the females to lay eggs. Platypuses are nocturnal creatures and usually only leave their burrows in the early morning and at night. Once a female platypus lays eggs the female incubates her eggs using her tail and stomach and rarely leaves the burrow. Biological Adaptions

Some of the bushfires were extinguished recently by heavy rain, but not on all of them. Damage from the fires included Australia’s unique habitats. The fires severely burned the world heritage sites in the Blue Mountains as well as the permanent remnants of Godwanna forest.

The danger of the heavy rain does portend catastrophic threats to burned areas and the impact they have on the freshwater sources in Australia.

From the Guardian:

Generally, bushfire ash comprises organic carbon and inorganic elements such as nitrogen, phosphorous and metals such as copper, mercury and zinc.

Sediment rushing into waterways can also contain large amounts of soil, since fire has consumed the vegetation that once bound the soil together and prevented erosion.

And carcinogenic chemicals – found in soil and ash in higher amounts following bushfires – can contaminate streams and reservoirs over the first year after the fire.

Immediately following the bushfires, we expect to see an increase in streamflow when it rains, because burnt soil repels, not absorbs, water.

When vast amounts of carbon are present in a waterway, such as when carbon-loaded sediments and debris wash in, bacteria rapidly consumes the water’s oxygen. The remaining oxygen levels can fall below what most invertebrates and fish can tolerate. These high sediment loads can also suffocate aquatic animals with a fine layer of silt which coats their gills and other breathing structures.

These high sediment loads can also suffocate aquatic animals with a fine layer of silt which coats their gills and other breathing structures.

Habitats are also at risk. When sediment is suspended in the river and light can’t penetrate, suitable fish habitat is diminished. The murkier water also means there’s less opportunity for aquatic plants and algae to photosynthesise (turn sunshine to energy).

What’s more, many of Australia’s waterbugs, the keystone of river food webs, need pools with litter and debris for cover. They rely on slime on the surface of rocks and snags that contain algae, fungi and bacteria for food.

But heavy rain following fire can lead to pools and the spaces between cobbles to fill with silt, causing the waterbugs to starve and lose their homes.

This is bad news for fish, too. Any bug-eating fish that manage to avoid dying from a lack of oxygen can be faced with an immediate food shortage.

The Age shares an opinion piece titled, Some of the most predatory companies thrive in times of disaster.

The catastrophic bushfires have brought out the best in so many people – from firefighters risking their lives to save properties and people rescuing injured wildlife, to the massive fundraising and the organising of convoys to take much-needed supplies to hard-hit areas. But the bushfires have also brought out the worst. Some of the nation’s most predatory companies, and people, thrive in times of disasters; and they are active once again, targeting people who are now at their most vulnerable, having lost everything they own.

Insurance claims management services and payday loan companies (also known as providers of short amount credit) are circling. Anecdotal reports are coming in from financial counsellors about insurance claims management companies encouraging bushfire victims with insurance policies, to sign up to their services. For a fee, these companies undertake the administrative work on an insurance claim. It’s a seductive pitch to traumatised people.

These companies typically work for a percentage of any cash settlement offered by the insurers, but herein lies the rub. They have a huge conflict of interest because a cash settlement is often not in the best interests of the people affected. For a start, the amount is not guaranteed to cover the full cost of rebuilding houses and repairing property. Such services may also inflate or drag out insurance claims to boost their own fees, causing further trauma. And if there are problems with the repairs or rebuilding, the insurance company is no longer there to help.

If people end up short-changed and can’t rebuild with the money they receive they are not in a position to turn to the ombudsman (the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) to resolve the dispute, a right the rest of us have. This leaves them with taking legal action, which is hardly an option for traumatised people who may not have the cash anyway.

Meanwhile, climate activist Greta Thunberg and other activists are putting intense pressure on Siemens, which is funding the Adani project.

Graham Readfearn writes in the Guardian:

Global engineering company Siemens will not pull out of a contract at the new Adani coalmine in Australia, rejecting calls from climate campaigners including Greta Thunberg.

President and CEO of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, announced Monday that after reviewing the rail signalling contract the company had “a legally binding and enforceable fiduciary responsibility.”

He said: “While I do have a lot of empathy for environmental matters, I do need to balance different interests of different stakeholders, as long as they have lawful legitimation for what they do.”

He said the company, based in Germany, “should have been wiser about this project beforehand” and claimed had it been his own company, he may have “acted differently”.

He added that the company “fundamentally shares the goal of making fossil fuels redundant to our economies over time”.

Campaigners said the decision was “shameful” and would damage its reputation and undermine its own climate policies. Siemens says it is one of the first companies to have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.

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