Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So Getup are doing this time capsule thing to mark the passing of the carbon tax legislation to be opened in 2050.
I wrote a piece for it, this is what i wrote

I was born in the Latrobe Valley, home of the developed worlds worst coal-fire power plant. While many kids didn't know where the electricity they used every day came from here it was impossible to escape the view of the smoke stacks on the horizon, co2, coal dust and other pollutants into the air 24/7 365 days a year. My Grandfather helped build the first power plants and later died of asbestosis he was exposed to while working there. My father like many men went straight from school to work in the industry. He was one of the lucky ones who survived the privatization and constant layoffs until his retirement.

Growing up I knew that the coal industry wasn't the future, even as a kid I heard the stories of the countless numbers who had gone into unemployment from the decisions to sell the industry to the highest bidder. Watching Beyond 2000 I dreamed of a world where everyone had solar panels and nobody had to come home covered in coal dust. Instead the industry was privatized and stagnated. None of the new modern plants that we'd been taught about in primary school where ever built and instead they sit like hulking masses, ghosts from yesteryear that we can't quite remove the stain of today.

Five years ago I too got my first job working in at Yallourn during one of the hottest summers on record, I worked beside a man who had been on the lines with my Dad and Grandfather many years ago. I heard how the turbines where turned off on the hottest days to push energy prices up and though research learned that the system simply was not designed to cope. Two years later I listened to the CEO of one of the biggest power stations state that Global Warming was real during a presentation on how Australia would be effected worse then many countries in the world. Massive bushfires was one such risk. Later I watched from outside with a sick feeling as the state government, visiting from the city ignored the view of smoke stacks around them and proudly signed over 9 billion dollars to carbon capture technology. I couldn't help but wonder how many solar panels could have been built for the same price.

One year later.. we sat helpless watching the world turned orange, by luck I had moved just a month ago to a town away from the fires. I worried about my Dad who wouldn't answer the phone and listened feeling sick hearing the names of the towns i knew and stories of people around us who had lost homes, been injured and had their lives torn apart. On the news they spoke of it as a surprise, but how could it be? Even as a child I'd known about the scientists putting forward the idea of climate change. Back then there was no such debate, no arguments or idiots like "Lord" Monckton parading around the country selling the modern day snake oil of the anti-climate change arguments. Alan Jones has never been shadowed by the impact of his decisions. There's no coal fire power plant dirtying up his view of the ideal Australia. Here no matter where you stand they sit on the horizon, white clouds of steam or the dirty brown of Hazelwood, a reminder of the failures of our country in putting profit ahead of all else.

I hope by now we've seen some progress. One day I wish to watch the smoke stacks turn off and see the plant where I, my father and grandfather once work decommissioned and replaced by something new. I want to see new shapes on the horizon of geothermal plants and windfarms. It's more then just about carbon and climate change. It's about changing our ways from this addiction to the past. We're in 2011 today, we have touchscreens and smartphones, we have computers that talk and cars that can run on batteries. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in the future, but then I see the smoke coming from behind our house from the power station, I think of Yallourn the town that was destroyed to mine the coal underneath and wonder if we too might meet the same fate. I voted for a carbon tax, because I don't wish my home town to be nothing but a hole in the ground one day.