The Coal Truth
You can feel the heat coming off the pages. Opening in the steamy locales of a suburban Sydney summer, The Coal Truth’s first chapter is familiar and idyllic. Yet, like heat shimmers at the periphery of your vision, and uncomfortable realisation pervades, that the fast lives of humans have now begun to sense the tiny changes in the slow life of the planet. In this little Sydney microcosm is the story of our age – the erosion of trust; post-truth politics; the assault on civil society; the disconnect between public opinion and parliamentary action; a global threat we can’t hear, see, or touch – all neatly embodied in the battle for the Galilee Basin, against mining giant Adani. The story of Adani in Australia has not yet concluded, yet David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace, and his fellow authors are right in providing a dissection of the story so far, and the litany of small failures that lead Australia to arrive here. One of the problems with the Adani mine is the magnitude. So large is the project, so national and international has the opposition been, and for so long has it loomed on our horizon, that the intricacies of the issue are bleeding into one another. The edges of the debate are being lost and it is becoming harder to conceive the fight as a whole. And when that fine-grain detail is worn away Adani gets one step closer to winning. We lose our perspective on the What, the How and most importantly, the Who will be affected. Down that road lies apathy. That is why this book is an important act of collective memory; it invites a collection of contributors to break down what has become almost an incomprehensive issue. The book’s first few pages are rightly given over to Adrian Burragubba of the Wangan and Jagalingou First Nations. As a prologue, it is both a welcome to country, and yet also the antithesis of one. It demands that their right of stewardship be more than simply ceremonial and spiritual, and that their ownership of place is greater than that of corporate greed. Across economics, morality, public health, misinformation and more, Ritter’s other co-authors carefully pick apart the Adani complex, tracing the threads to the broader social issues of the government assault on civil society, charities and the right of dissent. Ultimately, The Coal Truth is a diagnosis not only for the planet but also for the emaciation of a government at odds with its people. It is a rebuke of false economics, broken systems and usurped priorities. It is evocative and even uplifting, and returns the issue to one that everyone can comprehend. A valuable resource for our times.
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