Pike River

Well, here goes.

A tragedy?  Yes. And, as so often, ordinary folk shoulder the tragedy, while the boardroomers carry on.

This is indicative of more than that, though. And no inquiry will have the terms of reference needed. Even if one did, nothing would be learned from it. I learned that lesson from Aramoana, 20 years ago. “you have no standing’, said the Police Complaints Authority. (that’s the County Councillor for the area for the prior three years, one who was a friend of the Holdens, and had just driven away from the village hours earlier…..)

Nor can it be proved, that which I think this tragedy indicates. There have always be coal-mine explosions, and there have always been oil-rig accidents. What there WILL be, from here on, is more of them per kilojoule of energy delivered. We have simply cherry-picked the best, shallowest, most pressurized, easiest-accessed sources first (human nature – read: greed – being what it is).

Which leaves the progressively deeper, harder to access, less pressurized, etc, to go after. Not only that, but a society which was built to run on a full supply of the easy stuff as if it were business as usual, will be under stress as it attempts to keep going in a reducing regime. More corners will be cut, risks taken, dollars offered.

On average.

The BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pike River, are to me, the same thing.

I know what the mining lobby will attempt to spin – that open-cast is safer, and that it should be the norm everywhere. That won’t run in Schedule 4, but it may be a persuading argument with other areas.

There are the other ironies, too. The methane, for instance, and its eventual destination. The award given to the locomotive drivers, who found a more efficient (carbon-saving) way of dragging the coal over the Alps, so it could be delivered by ship, to be burnt overseas……..

So yes, this is a tragedy. To the lost people, and those around them. But it’s also indicative of the greater tragedy playing out as we speak. That one won’t get an inquiry.

You can bet on it.


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