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Mike's Minute: Coal is a return to the real world

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 9:54am

Mike's Minute: Coal is a return to the real world

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 9:54am

More from our common sense file. 

Resources Minister Shane Jones has had a good week and I'm increasingly falling in love with him. 

He turned on the country's only electric digger. This is a big mother and may well be the future of heavy industrial work. 

He is also going to make it easier to dig for coal. As he points out coal, in terms of extraction, is not dissimilar to extracting lots of minerals and although there are a small, but loud, group of people that want to extract nothing, what happens when you don’t have energy is you either have to bring it in or you sit in the dark a lot. 

In a week where we learned we will need ten times the power we currently use just to search the net, given AI sucks up a shed load more power than your current Google search, it might be time to get a bit real about what makes the wheels turn. 

While we wait for solar and wind and whatever else to get approved and brought online, the simple truth remains we make most of our energy out of water (which is good), a bit out of hot stuff in the ground (which is pretty good). But we still need coal. 

Because we can't really look for more coal the same way we haven't been able to look for more oil, we got a bit stuck. So, we had the absurdity of importing coal from Indonesia. 

Not only was it coal, but it was coal not nearly as good as ours, thus defeating the entire purpose of saving the planet. 

Speaking of which, surely the numbers also out this week once and for all buried this falsehood that the world is turning on the climate. 

We have never used more coal and demand has gone up again in the past year. But we are planning and opening more mines than ever before, led of course by China. 

China, along with a long list of players from Greece to Vietnam to Pakistan to Korea, Bangladesh and Japan are all opening mines. 

No, that's not ideal. But as Jones points out, utopia in the form of renewables at a level of 100% is years away. 

In the meantime, it's back to the real world. 

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