Bring out your time machines – We’re talking about coal mining.

Cumbria County Council’s ‘Climate Catastrophe’.

In an age when we’re so aware of the threat that climate change poses to our very existence, we continue to make self-defeating decisions regarding our future. Take, for example, Cumbria’s county council unanimously approving the construction of a new deep coal mine. Blinking twice, I realised this wasn’t a dream; this wasn’t a headline from notable satirists such as the Onion. Indeed, I hadn’t hopped through a time vortex to the mid-2050s on my way home. This proposal is an all too real headline, in an era when we are supposed to be reducing our emissions.

The county council, headed by the chair of the meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Geoffrey Cook, concluded that a short term boost to jobs in the area held greater importance than the adverse effects that this may have on the climate. That’s right, a short-term gain that, ultimately, the long-term loss our planet faces.

But sure. No big deal. It’s not as if the literal fate of our planet hangs in the balance. Why not open more coal mines. Hack down every tree in Cumbria to sell for timber while you’re at it! As long as it doesn’t affect those in power, why bother trying to kerb the processes which are harming the environment?

Why have they approved the plan and what should they have done?

On a serious note, this is an extremely disappointing development. As a Cumbrian myself, I’m disenchanted but not surprised to see the council approve this.

While there is no doubt that Copeland and the surrounding area are in dire need of extra jobs, there are surely more environmentally friendly methods than coal mining? While it is, arguably, positive that the coal generated in the mines won’t be going to burn in factories – rather fund the UK’s dying embers of the steel industry – there is no denying that the council could have considered a more progressive, greener alternative. Indeed, it was calculated by Living Witness that the mine would generate 1.24Mt Co2e, an unholy amount of pollution.

A wind farm, for example, could generate green energy for the surrounding area whilst also generating employment for the local economy. Seeing as how badly Cumbria has been recently plagued by natural disasters (namely floods) you’d think the council would have seen sense and voted against a mine that will undoubtedly exacerbate the issue. But asking a politician to actually put the interests of the people and the environment on which they depend seems a tall order.

What can be done to prevent other such proposals going ahead?

The infuriating blindness of politicians has fuelled the Youth Strikes for Climate and explains why they are gaining momentum. Our world leaders are acting like children, while our world’s children are acting like leaders.

The next “strike” falls in the Easter holidays, so more a protest than a strike, but an important message none the less. Indeed, the actions of Extinction Rebellion reaffirm the urgency required by our leaders to address the climate crisis.

Climate change won’t just, as defence minister Gavin Williamson once remarked about Russia “shut up and go away”, it is a very real threat, and we most definitely have the great minds and the technology to fight back, but, most of all, we just need the right people in power to help us achieve this.

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