Engineering and politics are intricately linked. The prioritization of certain engineering disciplines and technologies may depend on where leading political parties lie on the political spectrum.
In the United States, the Democrats were not supportive of the construction of a new phase of the Keystone Pipeline (an oil pipeline system between Canada and the United States), whereas the Republicans were practically racing to get it built. When Donald Trump won the Presidential Election, the hurdles that were keeping the Keystone construction back, were effectively cleared.
Climate change, and the engineering technologies that cause the phenomena, have been heavily politicized - which left-leaning parties have been using to try and sway voters with.
A similar situation recently played out in Australia. Two years ago, Australia’s then Treasurer Scott Morrison taunted the Opposition by carrying a lump of coal into the House of Representatives. It was to mock what they were saying were Labor’s hasty plans to move away from fossil fuels, which they said would result in thousands of job losses.
Scott Morrison is today the Prime Minister of Australia. He emerged victorious in the 18 May 2019 election, in what he described as a ‘miracle’ victory. The industries that are invested in coal, have welcomed the appointment.
Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) CEO, Tania Constable, told media:
“The Coalition government’s strategic economic reform agenda to keep taxes low, in conjunction with responsible 2019/20 Budget measures, provides opportunities for large and small business to be successful. It also means that the mining industry will continue to develop the nation’s minerals for the benefit of everyone. This is a win for regional jobs, particularly in the big resources states of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. There is now a clear mandate for resources projects that have lawful approvals to proceed, such as the Adani coal mine in central Queensland and the Yeelirrie uranium mine in Western Australia.”
Adani Group has seen a lengthy delay on their mega coal mine in the north of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. They are seeking to generate 60 million tonnes of coal per year, with a total capacity of 2.3 billion tonnes over 60 years. It is expected to be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
On a federal level in the election, the people of Queensland seemingly voted in favor of the Coalition government, which to engineering bodies and the Adani Group specifically pointed to the fact that they think the coal mine should go forward. Appealing to jobs seemingly worked handsomely. Lucas Dow, Adani Australia Chief Executive Officer said in a Twitter video after the election results:
“When there is an opportunity like the Carmichael Project ready to deliver thousands of jobs today in a manner that is both commercially and environmentally responsible, people cannot fathom why the Queensland Labor government refuses to get behind the Carmichael Project.”
The Adani Group had its eye on getting the ball rolling on the mine in 2010. It took a couple years to grow legs, and by 2017 the regional headquarters of the mine were opened and the promise of construction was on the way. It was only in November 2018, that any indication the mine might be finished started to show. Soon after, it became an environmental bone of contention on the lead up to the election.
From the affect the coal mine will have on the climate, to the endangerment of the black-throated finch bird population, were among the issues being hurled at the Adani Group’s impending mine. There have also been protests under a movement known as #StopAdani.
Despite the national election results, voters were resolute in their intention to vote against the alleged climate denying politicians - most notably in Warringah. Exit polling in Warringah, where Tony Abbot from the Liberal Party was unseated by Independent Zali Stegall, indicated that climate change was voters’ top issue.
Thus, it seems like it will not be plain sailing for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as opposition parties and groups seek to continue to oppose the leading government on the topic of climate change. However, regional miners and engineers in the line of benefitting from a coal-friendly Prime Minister are welcoming the election results.
Cave, Damien. “It Was Supposed to Be Australia's Climate Change Election. What Happened?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 May 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/world/australia/election-climate-change.html.
Karp, Paul. “After the Climate Election: Shellshocked Green Groups Remain Resolute.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 May 2019, www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/20/after-the-climate-election-shellshocked-green-groups-remain-resolute.