Since Australia swapped riding the sheep’s back for coal trucks, enormous PR budgets and legislation became necessary to protect resource extraction revenue and quell dissent. Indeed it takes mass collective hypnosis to convince ourselves that the planet should continue to be polluted with fossil fuels when renewable technology is available.
An interesting hiccup in that unevolved narrative was activist Jonathan Moylan’s prank on the NSW coal industry last week; governments and corporations appear confounded and have yet to figure out what to do about his actions.
He faked a press release from ANZ to highlight the bank’s complicity and investment in destroying the Leard State Forest, west of Armidale, for mining profits. The result was it temporarily wiped $314 million off Whitehaven Coal shares, which is an ANZ investment.
While the government was quick to seize his computer and mobile phone, why haven’t charges been laid? It’s because legal precedent is yet to be established on such activity, Crikey’s Sally Whyte reports.
‘According to Associate Professor Keturah Whitford at the Australian National University’s College of Business and Economics, Moylan could be charged under Section 1041E [of the Corporations Act 2001], but could also face civil action from stakeholders under Section 1041H of the [Corporations] Act. There isn’t an Australian precedent to foreshadow the likelihood of conviction or possible sentences. Whitford says it’s “hard to predict sentencing, but the extent of damage including losses to investors would be taken into account and the fact that he wasn’t personally profiting”.’
Moylan’s inventive media activism is somewhat similar to that of the Yes Men, who use parody and satire to highlight psychopathic corporate behaviour. In the long term, the fossil fuel industry will lose the battle against renewables simply because renewable energy provides a means of production. It’s a simple economic premise not even relevant to environmental destruction.
And in case this all sounds too whacky, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said in 2008: ‘CEOs of fossil-energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.’
Well said, can’t wait, bring it on.