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Death by sludge, coal and climate change for Great Barrier Reef?

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Well there is one light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be long gone before we have finally wrecked the planet.

 

 

There's a phrase environmental scientists and campaigners like to use to talk about the slow and relentless degradation and destruction of habitats and natural wonders.

 

"Death by a thousand cuts", they call it, as small chunks of habitat are lost and environmental laws are eased or repealed. A bit of bush here for a tourism development, a stand of mangroves there for a beachside resort. An entire nature reserve for a coal mine. Sometimes, the threats come like pincer movements with all angles covered. 

 

For the Great Barrier Reef, though, the world's most famous and largest coral reef system, a final decision passed down today gives us another gash, through which could rush millions of tonnes of coal.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/jan/31/great-barrier-reef-australia-dredging-abbot-point-coal-export

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Not quite sure what is going on in Australia at the moment... the political reality suggests that Australians are voting in governments at state and federal level recently with solid majorities, with the knowledge that those governments have on their agenda extreme pro- industrial development ideas, with weaker environmental safeguards to get them through. I think the general mood is one of ambivalence...

 

After 23 years of endless economic growth ( which continues ), national and state economies are slowing down as they cyclically do, and panic appears to have broken out as national unemployment nears 6% from highs which stood for years of 4-5%. We observe Europe, and listen to the Conservative parties here spook us into the threat that we're next, so we lurch back to a very old-guard way of thinking in droves as if we have a base economic illiteracy.  .

 

A prolonged period of national austerity has created this unforseen situation in my view that anything that is more tempered, is not tolerable. Anyone getting in the way of this, has a tendency to be slapped down as economic wreckers who are un-Australian ( environmentalists, concerned citizens, the political centre and left...they're all targets ). It is being upped by the popular media in a way that I have never seen before , and we now have a disturbing situation of mining magnates starting up political parties and contesting elections on an ultra pro-development nationalist agenda sweetened by populist rhetoric ( PUP party ).

 

The environmental cause has not been helped by the length of tenure of state Labor governments in Australia.  Queensland Labor was left with 7 seats from 89 seats after the 2012 election, after 14 years of government. The Barrier Reef decision was inevitable after a majority like that, and with the Abbott Conservative government voted in at federal level last year, deal was assured, ticked off for approval.

 

Federal Labor under Rudd and Gillard of course destroyed the Labor brand for many years with their infighting, with some loose economic decisions along the way that were perceived as being wasteful. They also began to have a problem in self-defining in what they actually stood for. Nothing explains the defeat more though than the electorates thirst for high growth and their ( ours I suppose...)  fear of losing affluence. If we had an economic crash like parts of the EU did, I seriously fear where the electorate would be casting their votes to, and whether that ambivalence I talk of would turn to a broad cheer of support for environmentally threatening/dubious projects. 

 

I think my views are shifting a little bit more pessimistically on the ( Australian ) electorates tolerance of what it deems as being acceptable, and what we're willing to accept. Whether it is silence acceptance or cheer squad vocal.

 

I think the Howard federal government (96-07) started the rot by abandoning the language of social and environmental values and replacing the discourse with its own brand promotion - wealth creation is number one, and a silly flag waving jingoism. I was living in UK for much of this time but detested what was being communicated and applied and feel society lost something during those years. It never really recovered it's principles after that. Comparison to everthing I have read about Thatcher comes to mind.

 

On March 15 Tasmania goes to the polls. After 16 years of Labor here ( the last 4 in coalition with the Greens ) the economic indicies aren't as high as they used to be, and the Queensland fate of environmental windbacks - fought long and hard for - may be just around the corner. After decades of environmental conflict over logging, the Tasmanian government has overseen a peace deal between industry/environmentalists/unions that has seen important forests protected, as well as offering protection to forest workers and the industry to transition to more productive activity. Tasmania's Conservatives ( if elected ) plan to rip up the peace treaty, and to inform UNESCO that it seeks to delist the newly created world heritage protected forests ( like the Styx valley ), and return the area to an open development zone. http://m.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/forest-wars-threaten-to-reignite-in-tasmanias-styx-valley-20140131-31s75.html

They will have a real civil fight on their hands on this one (!)... but we will see if the election result first gives political 'sanction' to this proposed recklessness.

 

Agree with The Guardian article wholeheartedly about the "death with a thousand cuts".

 

In Australia, we need to start to wake up.

 

 

Edit:  Posted Image Post a bit longer than I expected.

 

       

Edited by Styx
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Yes shockingly the Abbott government abolished having a minister for science when it was elected ( it's been a cabinet portfolio since WW2 ). The real reason for this decision is now very clear ( as opposed to the excuse that it was a wasted position, and that ministers automatically consider the science when formulating and deciding policy ).

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