So you probably haven’t heard about this, but it turns out that the climate is warming because of human activity. There are a number of factors, but the biggest one is carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas. Given that this temperature increase is already causing problems worldwide, and it’s expected to cause exponentially more problems as the warming continues, humanity needs to stop burning coal, oil, and gas, and use other sources of energy like solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, and so on. I felt the need to spell that out, because judging by the behavior of most of the world’s governments, it’s not clear that the people in charge are aware.
The U.S. is where I tend to focus, of course, but China is increasing its use of coal, and Germany, despite committing to end coal use within the next eight years, is now fighting to demolish a village to expand a coal mine:
Activists have for the past two years attempted to protect the village from being bulldozed to make way for the opencast lignite mine, in a standoff that highlights the tensions around Germany’s climate policy.
Environmentalists say bulldozing Luetzerath would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, but the government and RWE say coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.
It always comes down to some form of “security”, doesn’t it? I understand the concerns folks in Europe have about nuclear power, especially if we’re focused on older reactor models, but I don’t know that coal is any better. Certainly, the potential risks from disaster and war are less, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good option, especially given that fully “exploiting” the expansion would take until 2045, 15 years after Germany will supposedly have phased out coal power. I should be clear – it has apparently been a couple years since the town has had residents who are not there specifically to obstruct coal mine expansion. That said, while evicting people from their homes for this would certainly add incentive to stop it, the fact remains that we cannot afford to keep extracting and burning coal like this, given that climate change is already killing and displacing people.
It’s good that wealthy nations are making any progress at all, I suppose, but it’s nowhere near enough.
And so people are using the one thing that people reliably have – they’re putting their bodies between the ruling class and the object of their destructive greed. It seems unlikely, to me, that these protesters will get their way, but as with so many other things, I hope to be wrong about that. It’s encouraging to see thousands of people showing up to stand against the German police for all our sakes.
“I’m really afraid today,” Petra Mueller, a 53-year-old local who had been at the site for several days, said from a top-floor window of one of the few remaining houses. Mueller said she still held out hope of preserving what is left of Luetzerath “until nothing is left standing; hope dies last”.
Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the nearby Garzweiler coal mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The government and utility company RWE argue that coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.
However, a study by the German Institute for Economic Research calls into question the government’s stance. Its authors found other existing coal fields could be used instead, though the cost to RWE would be greater.
Another alternative would be for Germany to increase the production of renewable power, cut demand through energy efficiency measures, or import more coal or gas from abroad, the study found.
This is the point that climate activists have been making for decades. It has long been obvious that when it comes to “energy security”, and issues of war and politics in general, climate change is a “threat multiplier”. It creates resource scarcity, causes mass movement of people, and damages or disrupts infrastructure, all of which can lead to political instability. The advantage of carbon-neutral power has always been that its use doesn’t contribute to the climate problem. The advantage of things like solar and wind power is that they’re generally more resilient to climate chaos than power generation that depends on burning fuel to boil water to run a steam turbine. Dependence on oil and gas has long driven war all around the globe, and it’s a bit much for the German government to plead “security” now after decades of delayed action. To be sure, they’ve done more than the U.S., but that’s a low bar to step over, and not a standard I’m willing to accept.
If there was a genuine concern about security, rather than profits, they would have put far more work into renewable energy and next-gen nuclear power, rather than spending all these resources trying to expand a coal mine that, supposedly, won’t even be halfway to fully exploited when Germany supposedly will stop using coal. Or, just a thought, they’re not serious about meeting the 2030 mark.
Maybe they are, but I think it’s entirely reasonable for the protesters to doubt them.
I give full support to these protesters, and I’ve been delighted to see some of the footage that has come from this effort to oust them. See, while I’ll spare you any (further) porcine comparisons, it has been a treat to watch the armed and uniformed enforcers of fossil fuel interests rolling around in the muck while being mocked by a prancing mud wizard:
At risk of sounding too serious, I think there is validity to things that make cops look ridiculous, especially while they’re trying to use force to further business interests. I also want to underscore that while this video is very funny, the activists have also been setting themselves up in treehouses and wooden tripods, along with welded i-beam barricades and other bits of construction designed to make it as costly and difficult as possible for the corporations and cops to get what they want. The Garzweiler mine has equipment on hand that can make quick work of all of that stuff, but unless they want to commit mass murder, they can’t use any of it before removing the protesters.
And to remove protesters, they’re relying on the police.
I think that the act of using force to enable more coal mining, in the early stages of a global climate crisis (remember, it will get much, much worse without a change of course), is both evil, and inherently absurd. I’m sure the cops think they’re doing the right thing by just following orders, but I feel like we’ve had a lesson or two in why that’s not a great way to tell right from wrong. With a little luck, hopefully the powers that be will decide to accept a different world, rather than trying to escalate the violence to get their way, but in the meantime, we have mud wizards and Yakety Sax (It seems I can no longer embed Tweets properly, but I posted it below in case it starts working again. Thanks, Musk).
— Süßkartoffel161 (@Krokette19) January 15, 2023
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