The year is 2050. There are 9 billion people on Earth, many of them with not enough to eat.
The Murray Darling Basin, once the food bowl of Australia, is only producing half the food that it once did because of climate change impacts.
Here in Gippsland, the coal seam and unconventional gas industry has just closed the last gas treatment plant in Victoria as the wells have run out.
The land is now criss-crossed with thousands of kilometres of redundant pipes, weed-covered access roads and production pads are rusting in the paddocks.
The gas production, which had peaked in 2030, has finally petered out and the industry has moved on.
What once would have been a golden opportunity for the Gippsland farming community with its still reliable rainfall and ability to irrigate has been seriously compromised because of the degraded state of the land. Emptied aquifers provide no water for irrigation, and water courses have changed due to subsidence when the gas was extracted from the ground.
The remaining aquifers are polluted with carcinogenic fracking fluids and hydrocarbons, and there’s salinity caused by the “produced water”.
The fragmenting of farms by the drillers has taken much of this fertile land out of production for the foreseeable future and possibly for centuries. The few farmers left are struggling.
The companies who caused the damage have wound up and there is no one to sue to pay for the clean-up.
Yet there is cheap power from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and ocean wave energy to power the towns and cities. It is only our land that is destroyed and unproductive.
The above scenario for Gippsland may not be realised, but it could easily become a reality if miscalculations are made now.
Aquifers have been polluted in most CSG areas, salinity issues have occurred in Queensland and other places.
People have become sick in the CSG areas and the land has suffered subsidence and lost its biodiversity and productivity.
Looking forward 36 years will see the coal and gas resources from the ground exhausted and converted to invisible carbon dioxide or methane in the atmosphere, contributing to rampant runaway climate change.
We now know that most of the remaining fossil fuels have to be left in the ground if we are to avoid a climate, which is unliveable later in the 21st century.
Why are our governments supporting this large uncontrolled CSG experiment is a mystery.
The people who are alive in 2050 won’t feel too much love for the likes of Annalls, Reith, Downer, Gina or the dozy politicians who allowed this to happen on their watch.
Lock the gate and write to your local members now to prevent this fertile and rich region from ever becoming a polluted and degraded landscape. Join a local Lock the Gate group to fight more effectively for your district.
Mining and drilling are destructive and should be limited to poor, agriculturally unproductive areas. Certainly not any part of Gippsland.
Dan Caffrey, Traralgon.
Why Gippsland must be saved