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Coal Exists, Therefore it Must be dug up

The Non-Imagining of Socio-Technical Change in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia



As the world’s second largest exporter of coal, Australia has been notoriously reticent to facilitate the technological transitions required to alleviate climate change. The influence of the mining lobby has been well documented, as have the machinations of successive governments, who have had little success in overcoming this influence, or determination to do so. Yet communities in coal mining regions of the Hunter Valley are increasingly, and actively, questioning the morality of the industry. From conflicts over land use, to the impacts that burning coal has on climate change, the coal industry is aware of the tenuous nature of its social license to operate. In response it has invested in campaigns which emphasises the role of the industry in building the local ecology: not only of the local regional economy, but also in building historical and cultural value, in an attempt to ‘lock-in’ mining’s particular values and ethics. As the pressure on coal from international forces increases, this restrictive view is challenged, with the nation committed to the technologies and pollutions of the past and left behind as others move towards cleaner sources of energy. Power and ethics shape not only visions of the future, but the capacity to engage with the likely social and physical outcomes of those actions.


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Special Issue: Technological and Environmental Ecologies




How to Cite

Bowden, V. (2024) “Coal Exists, Therefore it Must be dug up: The Non-Imagining of Socio-Technical Change in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia”, Science & Technology Studies. doi: 10.23987/sts.120930.