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Express & Star comment: We must adapt to a new dawn

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

The mining industry has played a huge part in shaping our region.

Ernest Lowe, John Marlow, Ray Watson and Stewart Braddock at Granville Colliery in 1977

Coal extraction provided work for great numbers of men while entire communities were built around pits.

As recently as the 1980s, coal was still being advertised as a fuel of the future, while the region had profited during an era in which employment in the mining industry was plentiful.

Those who toiled underground and nearer to the surface might not recognise the region in which we live today.

The legacy of coal mining is less and less visible on the landscape as communities have moved on and found new ways to develop.

Of course, there are some scars and a number of heritage sites, but still the rate of change has been dizzying.

A decade ago, the prospect of the country’s electricity being produced without coal would have been almost unthinkable.

But that is the reality in a new era in which fossil fuels are rapidly running out and where global warming has risen to the top of the news agenda.

The images of London’s streets being clogged by protesters have driven home the message that the younger generation not only recognises the problems caused by burning fossil fuels, but is also intent on bringing about a meaningful change in our society.

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We are at the beginning of a new era that may prove to be just as important as the Industrial Revolution was when it began in this very part of the world. It is one built upon greener energy and new technology and it is one that may save our planet from irreversible damage.

While there are still a small number of nay-sayers, there is overwhelming evidence of the threats we face as a result of climate change. And a key contributor to that is the emission of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

While we are right to reflect on and recognise the impact the coal industry had on our region, we must also look beyond it to a new dawn. Climate change is a huge challenge for our nation and here in the landlocked Midlands we will not be immune to it.

We can adapt, however, and our region should look to take advantage of opportunities that will arise, just as it did when coal was akin to black gold.

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