Whale Oil Be!

SolarFolks, apparently, Oz is suffering through an energy crisis, so I’ve been gazing around our sundrenched land and wracking my brain trying to think of another source of cheap, reliable and renewable energy.

Probably from harvesting whales again if some political troglodytes get their way.

For millennia, our ancestors cut down trees, or burnt charcoal, for cooking and heating, and made candles by melting down cows, sheep and horses. Then, someone discovered that whales were chock full of oil which didn’t pong when it was burned in lamps, aka: Clean Whale.

In no time at all, they were hunted to the point of extinction but, happily for the whales and future generations of gawping whale watchers, cheap gas and kerosene arrived on the market and thousands of whalers suddenly found themselves on the endangered list.

Fortunately, new jobs were created as oil, coal and gas fuelled huge electricity generators which powered industries, factories and homes on a scale undreamed of. Modern society leaped forward into a brightly lit, refrigerated, comfortably heated and airconditioned future, while cheap fuel allowed us to drive, sail or fly further than any other generation beforehand.

Which is why, a few years ago, Long Suffering Wife and I blew our kid’s inheritance on a whirlwind tour of the UK and Europe. Surprisingly, everywhere we went, the countryside was dotted with huge windmills, and acres of solar panels. “Just like home for you Aussies?” asked an American on our bus as we passed another massive solar farm in Germany.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that in the most sun-baked country on the planet we were still burning coal to produce all our electricity, our home was as free of solar panels as a frog is of feathers, plus our treasurer at the time thought windmills were a blot on the landscape.

But, like the whalers of old, change will one day be forced upon us, and hopefully Australia’s future energy needs won’t come at the expense of some doe-eyed animal, the environment or certain populations going without.

And I ‘whaley’ hope it arrives soon!

About Greg Bray

The scribbler behind the 'On a Lighter Note' column.
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