The debate over coal and climate change rages on.
The debate over coal and climate change rages on.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Fossil fuel emissions are poisonous


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ROBERT Buick’s letter, 23 June, is a diatribe on climate change and believers.

I will comment on two statements in the letter.

He says that coal is not a poison and that coal based electrical generation is cheaper than wind and solar over the life of the generators.

If you define a poison as a substance that harms your body when ingested consider the following quote from a report written by Tony Capon, professor of planetary health at the University of Sydney.

Burning fossil fuels produces CO2, which is bad for the climate, but it also tends to produce air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and very fine particles that can play havoc with our respiratory and cardiovascular systems, even in countries with good pollution laws. Fossil fuel emissions are obviously poisonous.

On the cost of generation, the coalition government’s road map report clearly states that wind and solar are cheaper than coal generation.

The government’s chief scientist Dr. Finkel’s report, and many others, show wind and solar to be cheaper.

The information on the various systems is over their whole lifetime.

These reports also show that other renewable technologies are somewhat dearer than coal. These reports say that all renewable technologies are getting cheaper with time as they are developed and refined.

Coal generation, however, is slowly increasing in cost as new generators use more advanced boiler technology.

These cost comparisons do not include two significant costs - the environmental damage to the landscape and health costs.

The damage to the earth of coal mines is obvious but not so obvious is the damage or destruction of ground water due to mining coal and fracking to extract gas.

Because the damage is different in each case it is hard to put a dollar value on the whole industry.

Health costs of emissions, however, are easier to quantify as they mix and the results are seen by the medical profession. Consider the following two quotes.

Submission to Senate Standing Committees Community Affairs Inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia March 2013:

“Figures from NSW in 2009 indicate the annual health costs of air pollution from transport, power generation and industry in that state alone are A$4.7 billion. The costs for the whole of Australia are likely to be much higher.”

Two quotes from a UNSW report November 2017:

“What are the costs of air pollution to the economy? The health costs from air pollution in Australia are significant. The annual financial cost is estimated to be in the order of $11.1 billion to $24.3 billion.”

“The combined externalities of air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power generation are estimated to be $42/ MWh for black coal, $52/MWh for brown coal, and $19/MWh for gas.”

When these costs are included in the technology price compariaons above the cost of coal generated electricity greatly exceeds that of all of the renewables costs.

Tom Bradbury, Normal Gardens


Virgin Airlines toon.
Virgin Airlines toon.


AS: I quite agree with you David McLinock about filling out government forms. I so think it is racist against everyone one whom are not aboriginal. The question of am I an Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander decent or not. I would love to answer yes to see how differently I would be treated. The more that happens with all this BLM to my thinking it is causing more divide in the community than reconsilliation. To me the constitution is already there for all Australians, all.

ED: Mater Hospital a not for profit org. Well where does all the over-priced money go to? Not to the nursing staff.

ANON: Monkey see, monkey do. Qld are so easy led by other states. Supermarket shelves raided. Did anybody go with out food last time? Wake up Qld, we’re not monkeys are we.

SHOOT: Premier I hope you been asking the PM for ADF support to police our boarders or all that good work will go down the SH????

ANON: 10 million for new log and guess who works on it? Joke. What did they do? Wine and dine for years and come up with this piece of cr-- while our pensioners and low income are suffering? Great work. Plenty of Aus land marks animals for a log and they come up with this. Love your work, not.

I C LAMMERMOOR: Wake up, Frazer Pearce. I have been told that Ms Landry has been approached and ignored any invitation. She only now comes out to try to make Tony Hopkins relevant.

I C 2 TARANGANBA: I notice that the ratbag element did not disappear with the printed edition of the Bully.

ANON: How stupid is the new relaxation rules. You can go to a nightclub but not dance, but can have contact sports. How stupid is the Queensland government.

MEL, YPN. Got two political party flyers in letterbox yesterday. One is from One Nation listing everything they wish to do if elected. The other is from the LNP which was nothing but a negative portrayal of the ALP. Does anyone know what the LNP are pledging to do for the people in the seat of Keppel? There is nothing about the seat of Keppel on their website. Looking to the future in a positive perspective please.

SCOTT. Would be great if Deb Frecklington would allow both Rocky and Cap Coaat residents to formally vote on the location of any future sport entertainment stadium if she becomes the next Premier. Cap Coast residents have had no say.

MOOSE, DEPOT HILL: Having gone online for the digital TMB, I am going to reserve my opinion of the new format until next week just to see if some problems can be rectified.

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