The Coal Truth. David Ritter
Jennifer GrayMay 27, 2018
David Ritter is softly spoken.
When he talks he uses mesmerizing, poetic verse. So I picked up his new book The Coal Truth with much anticipation. I was not disappointed. David has laid out one of the most terrifying stories of our time, in his gentle and yet forceful style.
Like many of you I pay little attention to the Adani Mine plans in the Galilee Basin. I know it is wrong but I have not spent much time trying to understand the seemingly limitless legal and political machinations. As David’s narrative unfolded I found myself increasingly enraged.
• How is it possible that this crime of global proportions, possibly a crime against humanity, is happening here in Australia?
• How is it possible that we are even considering a new coal mine when we already know that coal is over, the rapid rise of clean power threatens to strand existing coal based assets?
• How are we not connecting coal and its impact on the climate, with the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef?
• Why would the government fund a private operation that is so risky and unprofitable that 12 major banks will not fund it?
• Why would India want coal twice as dirty and polluting as the coal allowed in Australia?
• And do they seriously,have unlimited water rights, in a desert?
With questions raging in my head I finished this book thinking it should be compulsory reading for every politician in the country.
The topic could be toxic, but it is saved by David’s beautiful style. Every part is beautifully written with great humility and personal touches. To illustrate this I have chosen a few paragraphs from his trip to the site of the proposed mine, an onerous journey.
“In multiple ways, this is contested land, the earth wearing the physical signs, scars and ornaments of our human struggle for power. Above all, it is the sheer sense of space, the openness of the horizon and the hugeness of the sky between which we travel, the celestial and terrestrial domains oblivious to our tiny passage.”
The actual site is an anti-climax. Only fencing and weathered signs mark the battle site for the Adani Mine. There is a challenge in grasping the enormity of this misadventure, when it is so intangible.
“In combination, the hidden functioning of power, the abstract nature of global warming as a process and the remoteness of the Adani site make for a complex opacity; veil upon veils, beneath which is the face of absolute wrong.”
But woven through his beautiful words and phrases is a clear warning.
“It is actually quite peaceful here. But appearances are deceptive: hidden though it is, we are standing at one of the most important places on earth at the moment; literally ground zero for one of the planets greatest carbon bombs, primed and ready to go off if the Adani mine is permitted to go ahead. I guess it is one way of putting Queensland on the map.”
I will no longer have Adani on the periphery of my attention, I have heard the call to participate, after all it is our future at stake. If the measure of great writing is the power to change attitudes and behaviors, David has succeeded. I am changed.
I am sure when you read this marvelous book, as you must, something will grab your attention and change your perceptions. Perhaps it will be the haunting description of collecting his daughter from child care during the Sydney heat wave last year. Perhaps the anger of fire fighters increasingly exposed to the dangers of wild fires.
For me it was the idea of limitless water rights. In a future where water will be like gold, how can we responsibly give limitless water rights to a coal mine?
I have a simple ask, please buy this book, but buy 5 copies. Send one to your local member of parliament, one to your local high school and one to your bank manager. The other two are for people you know will love to really, truly understand this issue. I have placed my order and love the idea of literary advocacy.
And please vote for this book to win every literary prize possible, it is deserved.
Leaving the last words to David “…you are wanted and needed to play your part in the greatest story of our national history.
The future is for all of us to make together.”
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