Time to Celebrate Coal not Candles: Viv Forbes

Coal not candles should be the symbol of Earth Hour.

It was coal that produced clean electric power which cleared the smog produced by dirty combustion and open fires in big cities like London and Pittsburgh. Much of the third world still suffers choking fumes and smog because they do not have clean electric power and burn wood, cardboard, unwashed coal and cow dung for home heat.

It was coal that saved the forests being felled to fuel the first steam engines and produce charcoal for the first iron smelters.

It was coal that powered the light bulbs and saved the whales being slaughtered for whale oil lamps.

It was coal that produced the steel that replaced shingles on the roof, timber props in the mines, wooden fence posts on the farms and the bark on the old bark hut.

In Australia today, coal provides at least 75% of our lighting, cooking, heating, refrigeration, rail transport and steel. Without it, we would be back in the dark days of candles, wood stoves, chip heaters, open fires, smoky cities, hills bare of trees and streets knee deep in horse manure.

Coal is fossil sunshine as clean as the green plants it came from, and often less damaging to the environment than its green energy alternatives.

Earth Hour candles are green tokenism for rich status-seekers and nostalgic dreamers.

We should spend Earth Hour saluting the real people who produce the coal on which most people on earth depend.

For those who would like to read more:

Clearing the smog of Beijing with “Coal by Wire”:

Return to the caves:

Hail to Electricity:

The Road to more Blackout nights:

Earth Hour – a Dissent

Viv Forbes
Rosewood, Q. Australia

39 Responses to Time to Celebrate Coal not Candles: Viv Forbes

  1. spangled drongo March 31, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Yes, tallow can’t hold a candle to coal. Even though it preceeded coal and was in turn preceeded by wood it kept a minor place alongside both. Being on a few acres I have the luxury of having dry, renewable firewood raining from the sky and with neighbours not too close I can emit a fair bit of aerosol carbon without people objecting.

    But coal got the planet rocking and today energy costs 40,000 times less than it did two centuries ago.

    As a result we are arguably less overpopulated than we have ever been.


  2. John Sayers March 31, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Well said Viv.

  3. Robert March 31, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Coal is chocolate sunshine.

  4. koalabear March 31, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I need to get some work done during Earth Hour later today. I need to keep my lights on so I can see what I am doing. I do hope that someone out there can offset my excess consumption by turning off their lights for two hours. I know its a lot to ask, but it will help save the planet.

  5. Tony Price March 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Perhaps something I wrote and posted in a few minutes last October might be apposite here:

    The View from a Far Country

    Here’s a view of Australia from “across the water” – lots of water, and not rising much, by my analysis. What I see is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the world, and politics today. I see the government of a country which was built on coal, whose prosperity resulted from coal, which currently depends on coal, turning its back on it. This degree of economic and political suicide is arguably unmatched anywhere else.

    I see a government which has abandoned policies which work for policies which demonstrably don’t work, and can’t work. I see a government pandering to a tiny minority in order to retain power. Expensive desalination plants have been, and are being built instead of much cheaper dams which serve not one but two purposes, water storage and flood control. Dams apparently “destroy the environment”, whereas clearly it’s uncontrolled flooding which does that very efficiently, as well as destroying property, livelihoods and lives.

    I see local authorities banning coastal development, or allowing it only if houses are built on piles, because of a projected rise in sea-level which, even if it occurs, will post-date the likely (or useful) lifespan of the buildings.

    I see a government which appears to be considering “controlling” the media, presumably because they don’t like contrary opinions being expressed, shades of 1984 indeed. That same government is under pressure from Luddites who want to see a large coal-fired power station closed down, with no alternative sources of energy in place. That same government is introducing a “carbon tax” in order to reduce Australian CO2 emissions by a small fraction of a whole which itself is a tiny 1.5% of worldwide emissions. The economic damage will be tangible, the effect on world climate (even if “worst case scenarios” become reality) will be immeasurably minuscule.

    I see state-funded organisations distributing exaggeration and propaganda, some would say lies (I would), about future climate and sea-level rise, in an obvious attempt to scare the population into submission. This in a country whose people’s instinctive common-sense and aversion to bullshit is (or at least was) legendary worldwide.

    God help Australia.

  6. Robert March 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Australia’s problems are clearly Abbott’s fault. The sooner we give his job to that smart Gillard chick, the better.

  7. spangled drongo March 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Posted this at the wrong thread.

    We don’t know how lucky we are [dum de dum]:

    “This generation has experienced more peace, freedom, leisure time, education, medicine, and travel than any in history. Yet it laps up gloom at every opportunity. Consumers do not celebrate their wonderful field of choice and, according to psychologists, say they are “overwhelmed.” When I go to my local superstore, I do not see people driven to misery by the impossibility of choice. I see people choosing.”

  8. Hasbeen March 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Don’t be silly Robert, that will never work. Too good an idea perhaps.

    We tried to do a similar thing with Anna, [Bleigh that is], but she took the big cheque, & ran away.
    It appears it’s “THE” job they want, not a job.

  9. John Sayers March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    OT –

    A 106-YEAR-OLD legal opinion written by a former chief justice of the High Court has been unearthed by lawyers for the South Australian government to scuttle the national plan for the Murray-Darling river system.


  10. will gray March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    This is verging on off topic!
    My Bullshit button is silent on this one:
    This link is an early email conversation showing good scepticism about the MYTH of oil being formerly living mater.


  11. Johnathan Wilkes March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    will gray
    While I have my doubts about your engineer friend’s “free” energy system, you are on the ball with this one.

    Many geologists and other researchers into this subject have the same opinion about the origin of mineral oil deposits.
    Only this idea is not currently accepted or fashionable.

  12. Chris March 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Off topic

    Jennifer the environmental Minister for SA had an article in our only paper today which was very critical of you, as a reader of your blog for at least 3 years I found his article strange. Have you read it? if not I will scan it as I can not find it on the Advertisers website

  13. John Sayers March 31, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Lance Endersbee had a view on this.


  14. jennifer March 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    O/T Thanks Chris, Was sent the clipping this morning, not sure what to make of it either.

  15. Robert March 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi all. I’m not big on housework at any time and 8:30pm may be a bad time to run the washing machine. But tonight it would be wonderful to celebrate the implement which has liberated the most human beings, and women in their billions. We could celebrate the washing machine in natural conjunction with the marvels of coal power, dams and sewage. Good idea?

    Anyway, however you choose to negate the foul ingratitude of Dung-and-Smoke Hour, have a drink that’s been fizzed with CO2, natural or injected.


  16. mick March 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I will be lighting up my home to honor coal miners and oil workers everywhere who keep the lights on for us all, including those bed wetting scientists that have every conceivable gadget and luxury lifestyle only because of these courageous men and women. James Hansen et al are the lowest form of cowards compared to these people.

    Energy hour celebrates gives us time to reflect on human endurance over Earth hour’s pitiful parasitic losers.

  17. jennifer March 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Have lights on, and just catching up on emails…

    Dear Jennifer Marohasy,

    Tonight at 8:30pm lights will be turning off across Australia. Why? Because Bob Brown and radical environmental extremists want to prepare us for the New Dark Age.

    They say a picture tells a thosuand words. Here is a satellite photo of North Korea at night, compared to prosperous South Korea. The darkness in the North is what we have waiting for us if Bob Brown has his way:

    So, as the radical environmentalists are sitting in darkness, I would instead ask you to turn your lights on, and take a stand by joining us and millions of others for Human Achievement Hour! “Human Achievement Hour (HAH) is a celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. To celebrate Human Achievement Hour, participants need only to spend the hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on March 31 enjoying the benefits of capitalism and human innovation: Gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, or listen to music. HAH is an annual event meant to recognise and celebrate the fact that this is the greatest time to be alive, and that the reason we have come is that people have been free to use their minds and the resources in their environment to experiment, create, and innovate. Participants in HAH recognize the necessity to protect the individual persons from government coercion, so that we may continue innovating and improving our lives and the world around us.”

    As Jo Nova put it:
    We are the lucky generation with light at the flick of a switch. In the hundred thousand years since homo sapiens came to be, people have fled bondage, wars, small-pox, dysentery, died from minor scratches, starved to death, been ravaged by lions, stricken by cholera, and survived the odd ninety thousand year stretches of hypothermic, abysmal ice age. We lived in the darkness for 99,900 years, cowering in corners, listening to drips, waiting for the sun. It’s your chance to show your commitment to fighting the forces of darkness. Be brave, stand up to the people who want to tell you what kind of globe you are allowed to buy. Feed the world by helping to boost global CO2 to lift crop yields and fertilise farms all over the planet. Children are hungry in Haiti and, since CO2 is a well mixed gas, sooner or later, you will be helping them.
    The lightbulb might now be illegal in Australia thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, but we can all still celebrate the energy that makes human achievement possible! So at 8:30 tonight, turn all your lights on, and join us in celebrating the great things we have done, and think on the great future we have ahead of us!
    Human Achievement Hour: March 31 8:30 pm

    Timothy Andrews
    Managing Editor
    Menzies House
    Check. Lights on.

  18. Ian Thomson April 1, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Hi Will Gray ,
    The Prouty link is light bulb moment stuff.

    Hi John Sayers,
    Couldn’t get at the content in the’ Legal Precedent’ link. Would love to know what the ‘angle’ is.

  19. John Sayers April 1, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    The Australian

    Old brief may sink Murray plan

    From: The Australian

    March 31, 2012 12:00AM

    A 106-YEAR-OLD legal opinion written by a former chief justice of the High Court has been unearthed by
    lawyers for the South Australian government to scuttle the national plan for the Murray-Darling river system.
    The document, Waters of Murray River and its Tributaries and Interstate Rights to Divert Them, was found by the
    government’s external legal team in the state’s archives during preparations for High Court action being threatened over
    the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s draft plan.
    The important 23-page legal opinion, a copy of which has been obtained by The Weekend Australian, was submitted
    by the country’s first Australian-born governor-general, Isaac Isaacs, on March 22, 1906.
    Sir Isaac, a Melbourne-based barrister, was a member of the Federal Convention of 1897-98, attorney-general in
    Australia’s first parliament and was involved in drafting the Constitution.
    When the High Court was expanded from three judges to five in 1906, Sir Isaac was appointed to one of the vacancies,
    later becoming chief justice.
    The opinion supports a finding, according to associated legal documents archived at the time, that “South Australia and
    its residents have rights in respect and to the use of the waters of the Murray and its tributaries capable of being
    judicially asserted and enforced”.
    Constitutional law experts, including the Dean of Law at the University of Adelaide, John Williams, said the opinion
    would carry a great deal of weight with the High Court if it came to rule on the relationship between the commonwealth
    and the states regarding the Murray.
    South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill — at loggerheads with federal Water Minister Tony Burke and the
    upstream states of Victoria, NSW and Queensland over the draft plan for the river system — said yesterday the
    document has “informed the development of our legal position” on the Murray.
    “South Australia is engaging in the basin plan process in good faith but we have not ruled out pursuing our rights
    through the courts if the process doesn’t restore the health of the river,” Mr Weatherill said.
    The MDBA, chaired by former NSW Labor minister Craig Knowles, is preparing for a final community consultation on
    its draft plan in Adelaide on Tuesday before submissions close on April 16.
    The South Australian government is in the final stages of formulating its response to the revised draft plan, released in
    November, that proposed to return 2750GL of water to the river system for environmental needs.
    Mr Weatherill said the best available science showed 3500 to 4000GL was required to restore the river to health, and
    threatened to scuttle the plan with a court challenge if he did not get his way.
    “We’ve made it clear to parliament that one of our claims is that all basin states are entitled to be regarded as equals
    when it comes to the river,” Mr Weatherill said.
    Professor Williams, who specialises in constitutional law and the High Court, told The Weekend Australian after
    studying Sir Isaac’s work that the document was highly relevant to a High Court challenge that may be mounted by the
    state government.
    “The points stand today — the obvious one is that he equates the analogy of a riparian right as a user downstream to a
    user upstream, and that is an analogy that any High Court case in that sort of direction would take,” Professor Williams

    “He looks at the American jurisprudence — Colorado and some of the classic federal cases between two states in a
    federal system fighting over a river, and they are still going to be current ones.
    “He comes up with propositions about equality and reasonable use and sharing. Importantly, he is quite clear that the
    High Court has jurisdiction.”
    Professor Williams said the document provided sound legal ground for South Australia to mount a case. “The
    argument has not been crossed over by some dramatic change in the law.
    “That is an important point. There have been some big changes over the past century in how Australia’s Constitution
    has been viewed. But there’s no reason to say the arguments in this document are not contemporary.
    “Whenever you have an opinion from a chief justice of the High Court, when he was at the bar, you take that seriously.
    The High Court still cites judgments of Isaacs today.”
    A river taskforce that includes South Australian Attorney-General John Rau, set up by cabinet in November, is
    continuing to help consider South Australia’s legal response to the national draft plan.
    Mr Weatherill said states had “obligations and potential liabilities when it comes to water and trans-boundary rivers”.
    “The relationship between the commonwealth and the states regarding the River Murray was the single biggest issue in
    contest when the Australian Constitution was being drafted and debated over 110 years ago, and is one of the few
    substantial matters on which the High Court has not yet pronounced an opinion,” he said.

  20. David Harrison April 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    So we should burn candles during ‘Earth Hour’ instead of electricity – correct me if I am wrong but are not candles these days made from paraffin wax? Which we get as a by-product from… oh dear, fossil fuels.

  21. spangled drongo April 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    The IPCC SREx says one thing, CAGW lobby groups claim it says the reverse.

    Including our Will Steffen:


  22. spangled drongo April 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Some quotes from IPCC SREx:

    * “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change”

    * “The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados”

    * “The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses”

  23. spangled drongo April 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Looks like it’s a requiem, not a celebration, for coal in the US:


  24. spangled drongo April 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Jen, from the ABC’s story today they should be supporting your argument for the MDB in spades.


  25. Jonathan Frodsham April 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I live in Vietnam and the government has recently announced that between now and 2020 ninety new ultra modern coal powered will be built.I applaud the move. Cheap energy will do wonders for the poor people of Vietnam. Trust me, in Vietnam there will be no protests from green environmentalists in regards to this long term project. We should do the same in Australia.

    “Vietnam plans 90 new coal-based power plants by 2025, investing US$83bn to add 106GW of coal-based capacity to the sector”


    Keep up the fantastic work you are doing Jennifer, I applaud you.


  26. Neville April 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Vietnam is one of the countries in our region we are spending our taxes on to help them to adapt to AGW.

    What a deceitful con and fraud, we’ll waste billions for nothing, for decades ( at home and overseas) and these countries just ignore their vast increases in co2 and we suffer useless solar and wind power.

    Good luck to them if they use their brains and prosper but what a pity we’re led by clueless, delusional donkeys.

  27. kd April 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    You were a day early for April Fools day. (Yeah I think earth hour is pathetic PR nonsense, but your article really does scrape the bottom of the rhetorical barrel).

  28. Robert April 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Earth Hour is worse than pathetic PR nonsense. It represents an incapacity for gratitude on a massive level. It thrives on mindless conceit and slavish conformity. It disgraces us.

    Thank you, Viv Forbes.

  29. Johnathan Wilkes April 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Re. abiotic oil.
    I’m trying to find out one important bit, to make some sense in my calculations.
    Could not find a definite figure, no surprise really, as to how many times a substantial amount of biomass had been buried over the existence of the Earth to “supposedly” produce the oil reservoirs?

    The biomass in the sea? I regard it as insignificant, most of it gets eaten when dead. It would take an enormous cataclysmic to put all sea creatures into a mass grave.

    Any takers?
    All I need is one number!

  30. gavin April 2, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    You guys wan’t to eat all the chocolate cake now?

    Now; what’s wrong with your logic? Coal and oil is only potted sunshine, sorry.

    JW can argue with the black coal segment in last night’s episode of “Australia – the time traveler’s guide”


  31. gavin April 2, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Since geology and mining is not some new science there are plenty of quality sources –


    the extent of a Sydney basin coal deposit can be seen here


    For the nature of our Helensburgh coal we can go here. Numbers needed JW, relate to age and time for this resource formation


  32. Johnathan Wilkes April 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    As it happens I watched the show and found it interesting.
    Your links help me not.

    I’m well aware of the current explanation of how oil deposits formed.
    I simply have read a few other ideas about it and they appear to be more sound and realistic then the “dead micro organisms” sinking to the bottoms of shallow seas and so forth.

    Hardly anything in life, apart from dead humans is wasted, if there are micro organism, there are slightly larger predators and so on.

    Can you imagine the amount of those tiny little things would take to make up just the the oil deposits we know of?
    Let alone the ones we don’t?
    Even if you are talking in eons?
    And the conversion to mass to oil can’t possibly be a 100% either.

    There is more to it than meets the eye.

  33. gavin April 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Johnathan, you disappoint me at every turn.

    Although not a coal miner or oil driller, we should both know fossil fuels occur in shallow basins as the direct result of this organic settling in older seas and lakes giving us sedimentary soft rocks over time that are loaded with hydro carbons.

    Mineral deposits on the other hand depend on the cracking up of such sedimentary layers thus allowing more typical vertical intrusions associated with a gaseous magma infusion from below.

    Try again hey

  34. Johnathan Wilkes April 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm #


    No offense my friend but I think if I disappoint you, then I must be on the right track.


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