Newly elected president of World Council of Non-Human Species addresses Humanity about the biodiversity crisis. Geoffrey the Giraffe also calls attention to plummeting number of giraffes. (Slava Abramovitch Unsplash)
Newly elected president of World Council of Non-Human Species addresses Humanity about the biodiversity crisis. Geoffrey the Giraffe also calls attention to plummeting number of giraffes. (Slava Abramovitch Unsplash)
If you have ever been to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DWELP) and asked questions, you would be well-aware that the native-animal department has almost no staff, that DWELP does not use the law to protect native animals, but prevents others from using it, due to legal lack of standing. At the same time, the Agriculture arm of DWELP enthusiastically issues permits to kill kangaroos and other native animals with almost no restriction or inspection, and quasi-imaginary
For four days now my old body is fighting the COVID19. In this I had joined some 360 million fellow human beings. I was reluctant to write on this for many reasons including that the experiences of many others is far more poignant. Two faculty members at the university and two close relatives andseveral friends lost their lives already tp this virus. Dozens of friends and relatives also survived it and described the experience to me in detail.
Waleed Aly ("A Rhetorical State of Emergency," Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2019,) has dressed up banality as insight and has been very long-winded about it. His focus is climate change and he laments the fact that we have so "engineered a lack of [political] consensus" that Australia is never likely to successfully address it.
But there is a sense that Waleed believes his unique understanding sets him apart from the problems he describes ... I would like to help him find his feet of clay.
That we worry about climate change is because of the harm it is doing and will do to the natural environment; Waleed's focus, therefore, ought to be environmental decline from any cause, and not just climate change.
The two key drivers of environmental decline are the growth in human population and ever rising levels of consumption. Remarkably, the two key components of Australia's particular economic model are: more people -- population growth via high immigration -- consuming more and more ... forever.
If Australia wishes to address environmental decline -- as Waleed believes we ought -- we must address our levels of consumption and the growth in our population. The latter will require a substantial reduction in immigration -- the principal driver of our population growth.
There is a popular consensus for this measure. What stands in the way? Well, among other things, pundits like Waleed and his occasional employer, the ABC, who refuse to go anywhere near the immigration issue.
For all his posturing and puffing over our dysfunctional politics, Waleed is part of the problem he describes.
"Only the Liberal Party will protect the amenity and character of our neighbourhoods and rural hinterland," says Russell Joseph, Liberal Candidate for Nepean. We don't often publish statements from the major parties, but this is the first one we know of that looks at protecting the Mornington Peninsula. The Peninsula is an incredibly biodiverse part of South-Eastern Australia, hardly explored to date in terms of paleontology, rapidly losing its native fauna and flora. The undeniable fact that governments since Jeff Kennett have promoted destructive population growth here makes any policy to protect it extremely important. We will publish statements from any other political party that has a plan to protect the Mornington Peninsula from overpopulation.
"In 2014 the Liberal government introduced the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement to help protect our unique coastal, rural and conservation areas of the Mornington Peninsula townships and hinterland. However under Labor our General Residential Zone has been ruined and will now become a location for 3-storey apartment-style developments regardless of the established character of our neighbourhoods," he states.
Joseph describes the Andrews Labor government as having, without any consultation with local residents, communities or council, "replaced existing 9 metre height limits with an 11 metre limit and ‘as of right’ approval for three storey development."
He adds his opinion that,
"Labor’s changes affect over 24,000 house lots across the Mornington Peninsula and this comes with further increases in traffic congestion and unsustainable pressure on an already stressed public transport system."
Joseph claims that a Liberal government will fix these planning changes and fund improved bus connections to the Mornington Peninsula, including service route changes and frequency improvements to both the 788 (Portsea) and 783 (Flinders) services. He says that a Liberal government will protect the Mornington Peninsula and reject the Labor-Greens ‘solution’ to Melbourne’s chronic urban congestion by pushing the population down to us.
"Make no mistake, Labor and the Greens see their own ‘Brunswick-by-the-Bay’ down here, but only a Liberal government will protect what we love about our Peninsula."
Joseph's statements about the Labor Party Government's planning and population decisions for the Peninsular are unfortunately correct. Our files on ALP population and planning go back years - /taxonomy/term/1054 and /taxonomy/term/7452. Of course the Liberals, the last time they were in government, continued, like Labor, to advertise for more and more immigrants at the Vic Gov site of "Live in Victoria," now changed to Live in Melbourne. All state governments in Australia run similar sites, promising to sponsor immigrants and dishonestly promoting their cities as very 'livable', just as mass immigration is making them more and more 'unlivable'. Matthew Guy, as the then Minister for Planning, made disastrous changes to Melbourne Planning too. It is a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but maybe some of them are beginning to read the writing on the wall. Let us hope.
In his favour, Mr Joseph also asked me some time ago to provide a white paper from my submission about management of biodiversity in the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedges. This paper noted the problem of overpopulation and overdevelopment. Unfortunately illness prevented me from doing so, although the paper itself is available.
Most people lack the basic education in arithmetic, geography and logistics to judge whether they are overpopulated, to compare population densities between regions, to factor in import and export, and, most importantly, to understand how waste-disposal requires natural 'services' or to understand that they are themselves, microbiologically, a part of nature, but that each one of us now is extended into a kind of per capita earth moving and processing factory for creating dead stuff. This article evolved from a response to a quora question and appears in its original form here: [https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-cause-of-illiteracy-on-overpopulation/answer/Astrid-Nova]
My research tells me that illiteracy on overpopulation is mainly due to the fact that the financial beneficiaries of overpopulation also control the mainstream/corporate press, which constantly tells people that population growth causes economic growth and that the problem is not ‘overpopulation’ but ‘lack of infrastructure’. This cause of illiteracy is most prevalent in the Anglosphere where the system does not penalise land-speculation and does not see population growth as a cost to the state, but as a way of profiting in the private sector - notably in the property development and upstream and downstream industries, including land-sales, mining for materials, construction materials sales, development and construction finance, real-estate, housing construction and sales, furnishing etc.
Non-Anglosphere systems (typically Roman Law ones with Napoleonic Civil Codes in continental Europe) tend to penalise this kind of ‘growth’ (really wealth transfer) because it represents a cost to the state, because there the state subsidises finance for and carries out most land development and construction, keeping prices relatively low in a smaller private sector. Therefore, in those Roman Law systems, you don’t have much of a ‘growth lobby’ because there is a lack of focused beneficiaries. In the 2008 financial crash, for instance, France suddenly got a big debt because its banks invested in the US subprime system, which did not exist in France itself due to the nature of France’s property development and housing system.
In the Anglosphere settler states with strong property development growth lobbies and mass immigration, the government members, public servants and the opposition members and political parties, tend themselves to have accumulated huge land-banks and property finance interests. Usually these are concealed in shell companies that donate to an intermediary company that donates to the political party. These beneficiaries of the growth lobby make laws to promote their investment interests. Corporations also invest in the property development and population growth lobby. The corporate press has property dot coms, so they promote these private interests and constantly tell the public that population growth is a great thing for the economy. Public broadcasting also promotes this. Although observant people can tell that the cost of living is going up all the time and that mortgages are out of reach for many wage earners and nature is being paved over, it is hard for those of us who pay for this population growth, rather than profiting from it, to organise. That is because the propaganda is so effective that people simply look away from the obvious, having been told that that is not the problem.
Most people have come to accept the idea that population grows out of control everywhere because this has been taught to them at school, in the media, by churches, and by demographers, who are not really population theory experts, but just accept the numbers and calculate on trends. The growth lobby beneficiaries are so wealthy and organised that they are able to place people on charity and welfare boards and on public broadcasting boards and behave as if they are doing a charitable act by offering advice to invest in property and not to criticise high immigration.
My references are Sheila Newman: The Growth Lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, Swinburne University, Australia or academia.edu. Also Demography Territory Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations Countershock Press, and, Demography Territory Law 2: Land-Tenure and the Rise of Capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press.
Another reason that people cannot make sense of what is happening is that they cannot understand population sizes or population doublings arithmetically. See Albert Bartlett videos or find online a doubling rate calculator. This is a deficiency of the education and information system.
Population density and environment
People also tend to fall for questionable comparisons between population densities in places with radically different environments, such as comparing the low population density per sq km of Australia with the high density per sq km of Holland. This kind of comparison ignores differences in land fertility, climate and terrain, such as the fact that Australia is quite densely settled in the fertile parts but that 35% is hot, sandy, salty desert and another 30% is arid range land.
Food production logistics
People also are not taught to look at the logistics of food production: They would otherwise factor in the role of importation of food and materials from colonies or poor countries, which can make a big population viable in a small tertiary economy with little land. This problem is well-modeled in the Ecological Footprint diagram which you could find by search-engining the term.
The logistics of waste remain inaccessible to governments, business and citizens, to our peril: A large proportion of the world has to be left for food and materials production; you cannot cover this with cities. There are two very important arguments for preserving a very large part of the world for biodiverse nature, both quality and quantity.
The first reason is that nature is our heritage and wonderful and valuable in its own right.
The second reason is thermodynamic. Life is the only thing that reorganises diffuse energy into systems. It does this when it consumes food and then reorganises it to fuel and replace living cells and to create new organisms, via reproduction. Although waste is created in this process, according to the laws of thermodynamics, it is biological waste.
Unlike other life-forms, human life, unfortunately, creates more dead and disorganised (non-living) stuff per person than its own total biomass. So, we need a large, functioning natural world to process our disorganised material and toxic waste.
We should not forget that we are a part of nature; we are composed of systematised cells and viruses that function as our cells and organs. No wonder that when we think about losing nature, we feel terrible. Except where we have become obsessed with the idea of power and wealth, which are forms of addiction. And all creatures can become addicted to substances and rewards that feed the sensation that they are increasing their power or territory to a magical degree that will make them capable of overcoming reality. Currently our global economic systems reward this kind of delusion.
There has been recent media coverage of efforts by the Australian government, in concert with the Australian Kangaroo products industry, to overturn an impending ban on the importation of Kangaroo products to California. The trade in Kangaroo products has been largely in the form of leather products. Aside from ethical issues surrounding the underhandedness of the Australian government’s interference in the Californian legislature on this issue, these events raise broader ethical issues about ongoing attempts to commercialize the harvesting of Australian wildlife, including for international trade.
First, some background about the Kangaroo products trade to California. The Californian legislature imposed a ban on the importation of Kangaroo products in 1971, a highly principled environmental decision, which in part reflected opposition in California to the commercial killing of wildlife. However, this ban was effectively overturned by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. As a result, the trade in Kangaroo products has flourished for the past eight years or so. The moratorium on the ban will end in December 2015, and is now due for review in the Californian Senate. The Senate could decide to either discontinue the moratorium, in which case the Kangaroo products trade would cease in accordance with the original ban, or, it may decide to maintain the moratorium, and the trade in Kangaroo products for a limited period or even indefinitely.
The issue has attracted a great deal of critical media attention in California, not merely because of the ethical issues associated with the commercial destruction of wildlife, but because of the way the Australian government has directly funded underhanded political tactics to influence of the decision making of the Californian legislature.
The Australian Department of Agriculture provided the Kangaroo Industries Association A$143,000 to pay U.S. lobbyists to influence Californian law makers. Furthermore, Australian government interference has been criticized because of the dishonest tactics that have been used in its attempt to influence the Californian legislature to maintain the Kangaroo products trade. It has relied upon a ‘gut and amend’ tactic, by which a bill on a completely unrelated issue, which has already reached the floor of the Californian Senate, is rewritten to put a totally different issue to the legislature. In this way, a bill initially related to gambling has been transformed into a bill on the Kangaroo trade issue, in an attempt to have the moratorium continued by stealth. As a result, a complaint has been lodged to the Fair Political Commission alleging that the Australian government may have acted illegally in not declaring its financial payments or to register itself as a lobbyist employer. The U.S. Humane Society observes that this tactic “…smacks of special interest dealing and secrecy”.
The Australian government’s underhandedness and mismanagement of the issue is clearly tarnishing Australia’s reputation in the U.S. Attempting to stick his finger in the dyke, Australian Ambassador to the U.S., former Federal Labor heavyweight, Kim Beazley, staggered into the fray, asserting to the Californian press that Australia’s tactics had been respectable and that criticism of it was ‘emotional’. Predictably supercilious, Beazely asserted that the products traded were not from threatened kangaroo species, that there were twice as many kangaroos in Australia as people and that cessation of the trade would do significant economic damage to both California and Australia – as if these claims exhausted the ethical and ecological issues involved pertaining to wholesale wildlife destruction and commercialization.
In a political climate where there is increasing reluctance to accept that habitat and wildlife species should be quarantined from commercial predation, and where the very concepts of nature and nature conservation are under siege from academic air heads, it is disturbing to witness the lengths to which the Australian government will go to ensure the continuation of wildlife-based trade. The events surrounding the trade in Kangaroo products to California should not be seen in isolation.
Domestically, recreational hunting organizations are ramping up political pressure for increased access to wildlife species, to have wildlife species redefined as 'game'. In fact the recreational and commercial dimensions of wildlife destruction are closely related. Recently in Victoria, state upper house members, elected on a hunting and fishing ticket (with an obscenely small number of votes) called for the introduction of a kangaroo shooting season, similar to the Victorian duck shooting season. While claiming that their voluntary involvement in Kangaroo culling would make a contribution to environmental management (referring to claims of kangaroo overpopulation), it is also asserted that the Kangaroos slaughtered should ‘not go to waste’ and be disposed of commercially. It remains to be seen if the Victorian Labor government will be opportunistic enough (given the need to attract cross-bench support in the upper house) to buy into this insidious double speak. In reality, recreational shooters want access to Kangaroos for the same reasons they have already gained state permission to destroy ducks – nothing to do with environmental management or 'sustainability' (in fact the opposite).
As part of its 2014 policy platform, the Victorian Labor government announced its intention to rewrite and merge the Victorian Wildlife and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Acts. As it stands, the Victorian Wildlife Act holds that all Victorian wildlife is protected by definition. The Act does, however, provide for the destruction of wildlife where property and persons are threatened or damaged. Although it may be argued that these wildlife destruction provisions are currently applied too liberally, the axiomatic principle that wildlife, by definition, is to be protected is highly defensible and responsible. It remains to be seen whether this laudable principle survives Labor’s rewriting of the Wildlife Act; Victorian Labor’s current bio-diversity policy contains no such principle.
Is Environmentalism in Denial? [For details of this debate, see http://www.slf.org.au/festival14/environmentalism-denial ] Inside, Mark O'Connor's speech.
I have great respect for Naomi Klein’s sharp mind, and I won’t deny her starting-point: too many of us sustainable-livers want to tinker prettily at the edges of our lives, while not looking deeper. Human kind cannot bear very much reality, and even a walk around this festival will show many stalls selling pretty tinkerings for those who want to cultivate their small garden while Australia and perhaps the planet burns. One giraffe has to be put down because there’s no space in the zoo. Outrage! 7 billion large omnivores sweep the forests bare and turn wild animals into bushmeat. Ho-hum! You wouldn’t want to stand in the way of progress, would you?
Yes, environmentalists are in denial, on various issues But is climate-change the thing that most environmental groups are most in denial about? Really, Naomi?
What about the ongoing destruction of the environment? In Australia, most of the natural world is already under sentence of execution. In the vivid phrase of the poet Robert Gray, most of Australia has become “things that lie in a fire, in the moment when they still have their form”. (from “Under the Summer Leaves”) ... Like a branch thrust into the fire, and already taking fire, the koalas, the white-winged choughs, the blue wrens still have their form, but are already doomed. Not by climate change, but by ever more people, demanding ever more wealth and stuff per person, and backed by ever more powerful and destructive machines. Environmental destruction = human numbers x average demands per human x destructiveness of the machinery used. Climate change is a result of that product, not its cause. So let’s look deeper, Naomi.
Today I even saw stalls devoted to saving water. Now why would an environmentalist want to conserve the public water supplies? You’re only reducing the political price for Matthew Guy as he seeks to turn Melbourne into a high rise hell, and Victoria into a crowded vampire state unable to pay for its own imports. No, open your taps as wide as your budget can bear.
(See William Lines and Mark O'Connor,Overloading Australia, chapter 22, on wasting water. )
And no, that’s not a party political point. In the USA they say the two great enemies of the environment are the Republicans – and the Democrats. Here it’s the Laborites and the Liberals, growth-mad both. When Bracks and Brumby got the reins, Victoria was the Garden State. It took those growth-mad bozos less than a decade to turn it into the state where it was anti-social to water your garden. Anti-social because it interfered with their plans to cram millions more into high rise suburbs, with barely enough water for a shower and a pot plant.
A few years ago, when I was a small boy growing up in Melbourne, my parents took me to a fete. There, though money was short, they somehow bought me a raffle ticket—and it won. First prize was my choice of a new state of the art frying-pan or of a three-quarter size leather football. Not a hard choice. Being a small boy, and a Collingwood supporter, I unhesitatingly chose – the football. When I rejoined my mother, who had been trying to catch my eye, she was close to fury. “You stupid child! Didn’t you know we need a frypan. That frypan was worth five times as much as the football.” I pointed out of course that there was no way I could have known that, and besides the junior football would be invaluable to me in my future career as a League footballer. She said sadly, “Mark, if you’d chosen the frypan, I’d have gladly bought you three footballs.” So that was a lesson learnt. As you go through life, choose the frypans, not the footballs.
I’m still trying to learn it. Today I find myself with a white beard, sitting on bodies like the Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation and still asking: frypan or football.
Here’s how the issue comes up. As you know, we are slowly losing every environmental battle. My poet friend Judith Wright died deeply depressed at how other species are vanishing; and she was right. So how to find hope? How to win the lottery, and then choose well?
Well, . . . If we environmentalists could all agree to wish for just one thing, and work on that one thing alone, flat out, till we won the lottery and prevailed against the massed minions of Murdochery and greed, and got our choice, what should that one thing be. Which is the true frypan, that might solve all our problems. . . .
Jill Quirk of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), Victorian and Tasmanian Branch, writes about the many problems of Plan Melbourne. Indeed there are so many problems that it is crazy to go ahead. But most of us realize that the Planners and Ministers behind Plan Melbourne intend to just go on driving bulldozers until something bigger stops them or they run out of oil. There is no plan B and so no room to listen to comment. This is a real problem for the rest of us because we live here.
Plan Melbourne is a strategic plan to accommodate very high population growth to the middle of the century, a mere 34 years away. A major flaw in this narrowly based document is that it is working on a projected population for Melbourne of 6.5 million, yet at current growth-rates, the population would actually be 8 million in 34 years time. By the end of this century these current trends would give a population for Melbourne in the order 20million plus – the size of Beijing now.
What is really needed is a vision for beyond 2050 and the sense to change direction before it is too late.
It should be the responsibility of the government through Plan Melbourne to paint the picture with graphic accuracy of what sort of future we face – and the lack of choices entailed - if population growth does in fact continue at the rate it has been in recent years.
The expected populations of the following Melbourne regions: central sub-region, western region and northern regions, are expected to rise by up to 100% by 2050; the Eastern region by 30% and the southern region by up to 50%.
These are drastic changes in population density and numbers. Melbourne will be very crowded. There will be very little choice in how most people live or survive. In fact these levels of population increase will make many parts of Melbourne quite unrecognizable. Virtually no link will remain to the past. It is known that rapid change in surroundings depresses and disorients people. This level of growth is so huge that it can’t fail to do this.
One elephant in the room that cannot be ignored is that growth does not stop in 2050. Unless measures are taken to reduce overseas immigration, the wheels are now set in motion for the ever-increasing population growth trajectory to intersect with ever decreasing fossil fuel resources, rising sea-levels and weather extremes. This is like bungee-jumping today’s and future generations on the end of the same frayed old rope over an increasingly shallow pond. No good government should risk our lives like this.
The plan articulates a "pipeline of infrastructure projects". Funding measures or “value capture” are – predictably - paid for by the residents. It is misleading to list current residents as beneficiaries of infrastructure projects which are really for ongoing population growth, 60% of which already comes from overseas immigration.
I must point out that residents are not really beneficiaries of infrastructure which is built to service larger populations. Normally in the more stable populations experienced by residents of so many European cities, infrastructure planning is about maintenance of existing infrastructure – at a rate of about 2.0% per annum of infrastructure needs replacement. People to accept this as reasonable because we all understand “fair wear and tear.”
Our current rate of population growth however doubles this requirement.
It is mentioned in the document that with new infrastructure residents get the benefit of “Property value uplift.” This is of absolutely no consequence unless the person is selling a house to live somewhere else lacking infrastructure and which has not had a “value uplift” from new infrastructure. “To make this clearer; If I only have one house and sell it for a high price, I still have to buy another house to live in and both prices will probably be inflated, with further costs in conveyancing.”
Furthermore such ‘value uplifts’ inflate costs of living and doing business for buyers and renters. Australia’s extreme rent, land and housing prices erode profit margins, raise cost of living, and cause upwards pressure on wages. Whilst workers may want higher wages, this is a drag on productivity if those wages simply go in paying rent and mortgages. The only people who benefit from high housing prices are those with more than one house, including professional developers. These people are not in the majority and, in another system, their activities would be construed – accurately - as a cost to the community.
The document talks about providing “certainty” to businesses and residents about where development should be. In the context of never ending population growth, infrastructure expansion and layering, the concept of certainty is Orwellian for citizens. The only certainty for residents in a situation of explosive continuous population growth is uncertainty. This is a very poor substitute for local roots and empowerment in a stable and tranquil environment.
Certainty has more positive connotations for those who are professionally invested in the “pipeline of infrastructure projects”. Plan Melbourne will, it seems improve certainty for the companies who specialize in the industries that make, deploy and market infrastructure.
It seems like a never ending process of population growth and added infrastructure. It wouldn’t be so bad even with the costs to the population if “infrastructure” did not involve heavy losses of nature, livability, space, and peace whenever they go ahead.
Continuous development and growth is inherently extremely stressful, unpleasant, destabilizing and destructive of established communities.
Peninsula LinkTake for instance the Peninsular Link which decimated the pre-settlement property of Westerfield. This is a huge loss to the people of Victoria into future generations. It can never be restored.
East-West LinkThe other infrastructure project which is encountering substantial opposition from the community, especially those living in the area, is the East-West Link. This piece of road necessitates demolishing people’s houses, destroying the wetlands of Royal Park and bisecting the park especially during construction. All this pain, despite the fact that any planned relief of congestion will soon be overtaken by more population growth.
The East-West Link will remove a large proportion of a public asset from the public forever. Furthermore, this asset was a crucial part of the original forward thinking design of the Melbourne settlement, which sought to ensure open natural spaces for the general public. It was also a major corroboree site. Its historical significance seems to have been completely overlooked. Adding insult to injury, we who are to be deprived of it will be made to pay for our loss.
In the document the “challenge” of providing water (for an endlessly growing population) was mentioned. This is not a challenge but a depressing consequence. The Sugarloaf pipeline was a piece of infrastructure which also encountered huge opposition in the area from which water was to be taken. What would one expect? Such projects displace and dispossess stable communities which, in the line of right to self-government, ought to have more say, and the possibility of veto, in the matter of population engineering that results in this social and environmental disorganization and damage.
The construction of the Wonthaggi desal plant, removed part of Victoria’s natural heritage, causing huge destruction, protests, tears, and anguish.What more blights on our landscape are in the infrastructure pipeline?
Returning to the notion of “vision.” Australia’s economy in the living memory of all of us has been fueled by cheap oil. This has reached or is reaching the peak in its production, globally. The document cites oil reserves in Gippsland, but Australia is a net importer of oil. Whatever is found in Gippsland should be treated as rare and precious and something we should bequeath to future generations.
The Victorian short term government should lengthen its horizon. Thirty seven years is not a long time really. It should try to see at least to the end of the current century.
With falling availability of cheap oil, road networks will be outdated and redundant. The inevitable loss of arable land around Melbourne with continuing population growth and consequent infrastructure development, will put an unprepared and unsuspecting relatively newly arrived urbanized population in serious peril with respect to food.
Plan Melbourne treats high population growth as though it were inevitable. It is not. 60% of our population growth is from overseas migration. The Victorian government, rather than reassuring the Federal government that it can accommodate whatever level of growth is dictated by immigration levels, should tell it how it is, that people are suffering and will suffer more.
This is also where local government should play a role. Local government is closer to the locality and the local community (by definition) and is in a better position to respond directly and democratically to local feedback and capacity. It is unfortunate that the state has largely overshadowed the power and role of local government because people are maintained now at a distance and not listened to or taken seriously, with market principles (Coasian economic principles and Pareto superiority ideology) overtaking self-government, social responsibility and environmental connectedness.
It is quite telling that the document talks of protected areas within municipalities and those destined for more development and densification. It seems from reading the document that these latter are actually not protected. Don’t the people living in these areas deserve protection from loss of their amenity, from overcrowding, noise etc.? If fifty per cent of Melbourne will be “Neighbourhood residential” that means that fifty per cent will be unprotected!
The overall sense from Plan Melbourne is that it expects the future to be similar to the past, except bigger. It seems to be working on the assumption of a supply of new arrivals and a supply of infrastructure projects without reference to resource depletion and environmental entropy. This is the Archilles heel of modern economics; the externalizing of environmental and social costs – that is, pretending that they are not there. The document for submissions minimizes input on all political, social and environmental matters and on the most significant of all – the upwards social engineering of population growth.
Whether or not the government wants to hear about them, there are environmental and social costs and it is the duty of government to listen to the people on these matters.
The 2013 State of the Environment report states that greenhouse indicators are up, the condition of fresh water aquatic systems is deteriorating as is the fate of threatened species and native vegetations. Of 30 indicators covered by the report, 16 were poor, five were unknown and two were unassessed. The previous SOE report put down to population pressure most of its devastating findings. We are ruining our natural environment with population growth, but we could stabilise our population this century if we tried. If Plan Melbourne goes ahead, we will not stabilise our population this century, but instead will be like a contemporary third world overpopulated country. Plan Melbourne facilitates this dystopia.
Based on a submission by Jill Quirk, President Sustainable Population Australia, Victorian and Tasmanian Branch
By Brian McGavin, UK-based writer and analyst. 2013
Burning the candle at both ends
Today there is a ‘Silent Crisis’ in our midst. The crisis, still largely unrecognised, is potentially greater than all the other problems that transfix our policy makers.
For many decades now there has been a wilful blindness in recognising that relentless human population growth is one of the pre-eminent problems we face. A problem that is driving the astonishing growth of fossil fuel use and its depletion, climate warming, bio-diversity loss, the growing shortage of fresh water to meet human needs - and as a consequence of these changes - the prospect that agriculture will be unable to produce enough food to feed us.
Our children our facing a hugely challenging future. We are already feeling the changes – declining real wages, soaring commodity and energy prices, growing infra-structure pressures and overcrowding, driven by unsustainable population growth. Add to this a now faltering global economy based on the impossibility of endless growth and debt, with politicians throwing billions in taxpayers' money around to feed ‘business as usual’. This will need to be radically rethought to keep our complex society functioning.
In most countries today existing populations are not living environmentally sustainably, yet even if the UN’s assumption of birth-rate decline in developing countries happens, global population will rise to over 9.6 billion by 2050. Less reported is that if current birth rates persist, the United Nations Population Division warned in October 2011, that the world's population could more than double to over 15 billion in the lifetime of many people alive today.
In Africa, the UN admits that it won’t meet key Millennium Development Goals. Many countries in Africa already have massive unemployment and not enough food. How will they provide all the schools, jobs, hospitals and food to sustain populations that are set to more than double and in some cases triple in size in less than 40 years?
Governments will be struggling with millions of unemployed and hungry people attracted to violence and extremism. Look at the problems already in our news in countries like Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Yemen, Egypt and Afghanistan – all countries on food aid, with exploding populations and increasingly scarce resources, who export surplus people to North America, Europe and Australia – yet population growth is barely mentioned!
In a few years, we face major oil energy decline as global demand outstrips supply.
A huge problem is most alternative energy sources are poor net energy performers.
Professor John Beddington, former UK Chief Scientist, warned in March 2009 that: “Our food reserves are at a 50-year low, but by 2030 we need to be producing 50% more food, we will need 50% more energy, and 30% more fresh water. They are dramatic problems, and they are all intimately connected.”
You can try reducing consumption all you want, but when you keep adding 100 million and another 100 million, you simply drive every human to a lower and lower standard of living. You cannot escape that reality.
Most environmental organisations tell us that ‘if only we each reduced our environmental demand, population growth would not be a problem’. But our economic system based on growth is driving us in the opposite direction. Even if all the efficiency and renewable alternatives could be implemented the savings would be quickly wasted if populations continue to grow.
Demographic impacts were discussed sensibly back in the 1970s but since then a combination of political blindness and political correctness, an alliance of ill-informed religious dogmatists and an economic doctrine of 'out with limits', has undermined common sense and political backbone.
Climate change is heard, but many people, not least politicians, are in profound ignorance of the huge challenges we now face, nearly all linked to the relentless rise in human numbers and diminishing resources. Aiding and abetting this is a celebrity and sport obsessed media that cheers endless growth to prosperity and drowns out wider coverage on key issues impacting on our future.
Why would we think it better to create energy shortages, resource shortages, lowered quality of life, a housing crisis, lowered standard of living, more air pollution, grid-locked traffic, bio-diversity loss, and many more calamities caused by ever increasing population pressures?
If governments won’t talk population, then they are not serious about cutting emissions, managing the water supply, managing food supplies, and a secure quality of life for our people.
It is not a question of ‘either or’ and who needs to act. We are in this together. Rich nations are consuming too much and populations continue to rise. Legitimate aspirations to raise living standards in high population countries like China and India are consuming ever-more resources. In many developing countries with acute water and food shortages, populations are projected to double or triple in size within 40 years – driving social unrest and migration on a massive scale.
There are several key challenges we have to talk about and face. In particular, ensuring development aid from donor countries delivers fully accessible and properly funded reproductive health care for all, along with equal access to education for girls and women. In many countries there are still barriers to this. We also have to start incentivising welfare systems to encourage fewer births rather than more and aim for balanced migration.
Some people believe they have a right to have as many children as they want, whether they can look after them or not and fail to understand or just ignore the consequences of growing populations. Many commentators wilfully promote an ever-larger population in the name of freedom of choice and growth. There will be precious little choice left if we go on multiplying with no thought for the future.
Others claim their religion for actions that impact on others: Have large families "in the name of God" ; Over-consuming resources? "God will provide” - so we don't need to think about the consequences; and when the day of reckoning and collapse arrives - "It is God's will" – an opt-out from moral responsibility.
We have higher intellect to understand the consequences of our actions. Do we plan for a secure and better life or do we carry on blindly toward a minefield of lethal limits?
Rights come with responsibilities. Society has a right to expect its citizens to act in ways that do not endanger others. We still have a choice. The world badly needs a grown-up, rational discussion on population - without blame, abuse and hysteria.
Our children will not thank us for being driven to an abyss.
Meanwhile they’re on a rampage, doing millions of dollars in damage clogging intakes of nuclear, coal, and desalination plants, killing millions of farmed fish, and destroying fishing nets with their sticky icky bodies.
The more we overfish, pollute, acidify and warm the ocean, create vast dead zones, and trawl ocean bottoms, the better the jellyfish do.
The oceans make the earth habitable for us. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, stabilize temperatures, drive climate and weather, and absorb a third of the CO2 we’re emitting. Over 3 billion people depend on the oceans for their livelihoods; 2.6 billion depend on seafood as their main source of protein.
Most alarming of all, 40% of phytoplankton has died off globally since the 1950s – they’re not only at the base of the food chain, but they generate most of the oxygen we breathe, as well as absorb half of the carbon dioxide, and their increasing death rate will make the ocean get warmer even faster.
They’ve everywhere, spread around the world in ship ballast or sea currents.
Ubiquitous – from top to bottom of the ocean, from pole to pole, year-round.
Grow faster than other species to quickly take advantage of any food, and they’ll eat almost anything — copepods, fish eggs, larvae, flagellates. They eat past when they can keep consuming, spit food out, waste a great deal other creatures could have eaten. Even when they’re full, their tentacles keep capturing prey.
If there’s no food, jellyfish can consume their own body mass and get smaller and smaller until they find food again, and rapidly return to normal. Even when they grow smaller they can still reproduce.
Consume many times their body weight in high-value food but are of low-value themselves because they provide little energy, ounce for ounce, compared to the food they ate. So they have few predators.
When 2 weeks old they can lay 10,000 eggs a day that hatch 12-20 hours later
They reproduce many ways: massive orgies, fission, fusion, cloning, hermaphroditism, external fertilization, self-fertilization, copulation.
If they lose a body part, they can regenerate it within 2 days.
They are the “Last Man Standing” in eutrophication zones because they need less oxygen
Many species can tolerate any salinity level, from fresh water to salt water
They’ve survived ice ages, hothouse climates, all five mass extinctions, predators, competitors, and us.
Jellyfish in the oceans have been known to live over 10 years
Many of them avoid predators by long vertical migrations from the deep sea to the surface at night and back down again by daylight
Just as plants have seeds which can endure many years waiting for optimum conditions to grow, jellyfish have a seed-like state called a polyp that waits for good conditions, and can clone themselves to create armies of ‘seeds’ waiting to burst into jellyfish blooms seemingly overnight. Polyps don’t “grow up” to become jellyfish. They spawn what we think of as jellyfish – the medusa — which then mate sexually to produce polyps, which stick to rocks, shells, man-made structures, plastic, etc. Both the polyps and the medusa could be considered “immortal” – when a polyp dies it’s clones live on, and there is one species of jellyfish, where after it dies, its pieces turn back into polyps (“Logically, it would seem that other species probably do it too, but we have yet to identify others,” according to Gershwin in a reply to this book review).
That seems so wrong– a primitive brainless blob? But jellyfish eat much larger clams, crabs, starfish, snails, and fast, smarter fish and squid.
They’re also at the top because not much wants to eat them.
Worse yet, they outcompete other sea life by devouring the eggs and larvae of species that would have grown up to eat jellyfish larvae. It’s a double whammy since these larvae never grow up, leaving a lot more food for jellyfish to consume. A jellyfish bloom can clear the water of all eggs, larvae, copepods, and small plankton in less than a day. This makes it almost impossible for some overfished species to make a comeback.
Many of the small fish that compete with jellyfish for the same food, such as anchovies and sardines, are being overfished and turned into farmed fish food, pet food, and fertilizer. We harvest a whopping 44% of these small fish at the base of the food chain, which are also what cod, snapper, tuna, and halibut feed on, which prevents the recovery of fish we’d much rather eat.
We’ve already fished out 90% of all large fish in the ocean. And it’s only a matter of time before we find the other 10% with sonar, radar, LORAN, GPS, and spotter aircraft.
The United Nations has predicted all commercial fish species will be extinct by 2048. In 2002 we were fishing 72% of fish stocks faster than they could reproduce. 90 fish stocks around the world have had no recovery in population even 15 years after they collapsed.
Few small fish left, few big fish left – that opens up a lot of space for jellyfish to move in and take over. We’re creating a feedback loop that favors jellyfish.
Worse yet, overfishing can create trophic cascades when we remove keystone predators. We’ve nearly driven 11 species of large sharks along the Atlantic coast into extinction. They kept the ray population in check, but now that they’re gone, the ray population has exploded, and they’re devouring almost a million tons of scallops, clams, and oysters a year. Fishermen only harvested 330 tons. The Chesapeake used to famous for shellfish, now it’s best known for its jellyfish (p261-263).
You’ve probably heard of bycatch – all the unwanted and unintended dolphins, turtles, fish and so on that are discarded, most so mangle they don’t survive when thrown back. I was unaware that tropical shrimp are the worst of the worst because they’re obtained by bottom trawling and have a bycatch of 125 to 830% more than the shrimp captured. In the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery 12,000,000 juvenile snappers and 6,000,000 pounds of sharks are discarded every year. Since most bycatch is unreported, these figures are probably too low. Further destroying the fish are the thousands of miles of “ghost nets” – the nets lost from boats that drift aimlessly still catching fish.
Jellyfish even eat other jellyfish, so when we’ve caught most of the fish, or otherwise destroyed them by dredging, ocean warming and acidification, pollution, dead zones, etc., jellyfish will still survive.
Sewage provides nourishment for jellyfish since they can get 10 to 40% of what they need by absorbing nutrients through their skin. And there’s plenty of sewage for them. In just 7 days a 3,000 passenger cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of sewage, a million gallons of gray water, 37,000 gallons of oil bilge water, 8 tons of solid waste. In the USA, animal feedlots produce 500 million tons of manure a year, 3 times as much as humans.
Bottom-trawls weigh thousands of tons and rake the seafloor for sole, halibut, cod, haddock, plaice, rockfish, rays, skates, prawns and son on, destroying corals and sponges as trawls rake across miles of seafloor, crushing what isn’t scooped up. The raking creates a fog of tiny particles. Fish can’t find their food in this dense fog of raked up particles or murky sewage, but guess who can….jellyfish, who just dangle their tentacles and it capture any food that drifts or swims into them.
Trawling dredges up toxic DDT, PCBs, hydrocarbons, mercury, radioactive particles, heavy metals, and plastics that add to eutrophication, destroy clams, scallops, bryozoans, tunicates, and other creatures. These substances, which had been buried in the sediment and removed from the food chain are released back again, and incorporated into the muscle, bone, blood, and fat of sea organisms.
Jellyfish don’t have these tissues, so they’re not much affected. Nor do they live long enough to store a high concentration of harmful toxins, or develop mutations or cancer.
Dredging creates many more areas for jellyfish polyps to attach to as pieces of plastic and other flotsam are dredged up, increasing the size of jellyfish blooms.
As climate change raises temperatures, the metabolic rate of all creatures rise, and they have to catch more food to stay alive.
The ocean has risen 1.8 F the past century, most of that the past 30 years, and may increase another 3.6 F over the next 100 years. In the ocean heat is even harder on organisms because warmer water has less oxygen. This means increased respiration which uses more energy and finding more food to eat. A creature that can’t respire fast enough will suffocate.
Warmer oceans are a dream come true for jellyfish – they can grow fast very quickly while other species are struggling. Phytoplankton blooms make even more food available. Jellyfish rates of reproduction increases and they can reproduce longer too.
Climate change also means far more unpredictable weather, another advantage for jellyfish, since they respond quickly to change and bloom explosively to cope. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave. And jellyfish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures.
Jellyfish can even increase CO2 levels because
Their goo and poo are preferred by bacteria that emit high amounts of CO2.
Jellyfish displace fish, whose fecal pellets would have sunk to the bottom and sequestered CO2
The more we damage and stress the ocean, the more likely the sedentary polyps will feel compelled to produce the next generation, the getaway medusa jellyfish who can escape the eutrophication, warming temperatures, changes in salinity, pollution, acidification, oil spills, or whatever else we’ve thrown at them. The medusa disperse to safer areas, and new areas, live to see another bloom, and eat and outcompete fish.
Jellies can survive low oxygen conditions because they store oxygen in their tissues and breathe through their skin. They can swim in the top layer of water above and form a wall of slime that keeps fish out.
They can cause eutrophication by eating so many copepods that phytoplankton blooms erupt, die, and tilt the balance towards flagellate-based organisms, which jellyfish eat but fish don’t. And also their goo and poo favors microbes that respire a lot which generate CO2 and increase ocean acidification. Jellyfish can survive low oxygen levels better than most creatures.
As we create conditions that favor larger jellyfish blooms, their concentrations grow more dense, so when they release sperm and eggs the odds of contact and fertilization are greater.
And the greater the density of jellyfish, the more likely prey will be unable to escape. Nor will the small predators of jellyfish larvae be able to do so – the dense numbers of parent medusae will eat the small predators before their own larva can be consumed.
Larger jellyfish blooms makes even larger jellyfish blooms more likely, ratcheting up their ascent to dominance in the oceans.
Jellyfish harm salmon farms through their mucous, bacteria, and stinging. The salmon waste and uneaten food also probably change the ocean to favor jellyfish and algal blooms.
- There are 1,500 known species of jellyfish, but probably quite a few more we haven’t identified yet
- They have no heart, brains, ears, heads, feet, gills, or bones
-They range from the size of a pea to 8 feet in diameter with tentacles that can be 200 feet long
- Kinds of jellies: moon, comb, pink meanies, rainbow, box, fire, sea wasps, sea nettles, sea gooseberries,Venus’s girdles, lion’s manes, purple people eaters, blubbers, snotties, agua vivas, blue bottles, the long stingy stringy thingy, etc.
-They’ve been here at least 565 million years practically unchanged, long before predators with shells or teeth evolved
-The Box Jellyfish is the world’s most venomous animal that can kill within 2 minutes. There are other lethal jellyfish as well.
This is one of the best books you can read about the myriad ways we’re destroying the ocean, which Gershwin has to explain so that she can then explain how that relates to how those factors affect jellyfish. Gershwin’s writing is witty and funny, making this grim topic easier to take. The natural history of jellyfish is amazing and bizarre. And despite this long book review, I’ve left out quite a bit, the story is far too complex to summarize — I hope you’ll read this book to learn more.
Even if we stopped overfishing, polluting, and so on, once we tip the ecosystem into one controlled by jellyfish, they will become the “new normal” and that will quite likely be impossible to change.
What a dismal future — an ocean of slimy, repulsive, stinging, sticky, lethal, spooky, scary, alien jellyfish. Bye-bye fish, oysters, shrimp, scallops, lobsters, Beluga caviar, abalone, sharks, whales, seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, sea otters, polar bears. Hello jelly-O.
The time when jellyfish rule is not far away, it could be in your lifetime, or your children’s lifetime. The climate and chemistry of the ocean is becoming like the Ediacaran ocean 565 million years ago, when jellyfish ruled the oceans for over 100 million years as the top predators.
In the last chapter, Gershwin writes that in the end, jellyfish are “also outcompeting the human race, because we depend on the oceans’ fish for our own food.”
Gershwin wrote this book assuming she’d have advice at the end of actions you could take to bring back the fisheries and keep jellyfish from dominating the oceans, but she ends the book saying it’s too late to do anything. Hold the presses — perhaps not, Lisa replied to this book review and said “I welcome thoughts that you or your readers may have toward saving the oceans and fixing the damage… the subject of my next book!”.
I like Gershwin’s honesty, and the willingness of the University of Chicago Press to publish her book, since most publishers won’t print a book that doesn’t have a happy ending (and also why our political and economic leaders deny or don’t talk about peak oil, climate change, and other insoluble problems.)
People have asked me when the fish would come back, since after all, they’re here now, they must have defeated the jellyfish in the past. That’s why you need to read this 344 page book. the ocean ecosystem is complex and Gershwin spends most of the book explaining how it works in order to then say how this relates to jellyfish. I’ve only reported on jellyfish part of what she wrote.
One important concept I didn’t cover was on low versus high-energy food chains, since that’s a big part of why the ocean is tipping in favor of the jellyfish, who do better in a low-energy system like the Ediacaran oceans hundreds of millions of years ago (read pages 288-344).
We’re returning the oceans to an Ediacaran state — warm oceans favor jellyfish, low energy food chains favor jellyfish, low oxygen favors jellyfish, ocean acidification favors jellyfish, billions of jellyfish consuming most fish eggs, larva, and juveniles favors jellyfish, ability to catch food in murky water favors jellyfish, their ability to bloom and grow faster than any other creature, humans removing most of the jellyfish predators and competitors from overfishing, the amazing adaptability of jellyfish, their being at the top of the food chain, and the synergy of all of these and the dozens of other factors above.
When this becomes a stable state, how do you get back?
“The Earth without us” gave me great hope. Because we’re at peak fossil fuels the climate change scenarios won’t be as bad as the worst forecasts (perhaps), without oil there will be only a billion people or less, who can’t do nearly as much harm without oil-powered vehicles and combustion engines.
A day will come when the earth cools, oceanic oxygen and pH levels go up, and fish and sea mammals will return. If they’ve survived, that is. The problem with an extinction like this 6th one we’re causing is that the hangover can last for millions of years before evolution refills the lost niches of extinct creatures, sigh.
AS I WRITE, the bulldozers and chainsaws are brutalising another superb stand of ancient forest not far from where I am just out of Orbost, south-eastern Victoria. (This article is an extract from one on the ABC. See inside for link.)
Chainsaws and bulldozers are operating in Orbost, eastern Victoria, and trees have stood for 600 years, sheltering and feeding generations of greater gliders and powerful owls and other species, and being logged.
The lush understorey of ferns and blanket leaf have kept delicate lichens and mosses damp and cool in the hottest summers over the millennia. Liquid eyed marsupials will be huddling terrified in their hollows as these giants crash and splinter in a sickening thud that shakes the earth and shocks the heart. After this brutality, the remaining vegetation is deliberately incinerated with a ring of intensely hot fire. Nothing escapes. It's all part of the 'sustainable forest management' lie that our governments feed us, hoping to hide the reality with a curtain of pleasing language.
Australia's forests have many native wildlife and plant species are teetering on the edge of extinction, but the assistance offered is little more than recognition and shallow sympathy, laced with lip service and PR spin. East Gippsland is a prime example of this situation. It has been described by Professor David Bellamy as "the most diverse area of temperate forest I know of on Earth".
For more detail see the original article A government devoid of morals: Jill Redwood
Why, in a developed country should small regional volunteer groups, Environment East Gippsland, which run on a meagre budget, be forced to take on the behemoth monster that is the government? The government and its logging agency VicForests agreed to abide by their own laws after being forced to the steps of the Supreme Court.
As a result of EEG's legal challenge, the beautiful glossy black cockatoo finally had a draft action statement drawn up last month after waiting 18 years on the threatened species list. But Minister Walsh's staff have found a loophole — they now learn that although the plan itself is a legal obligation, it doesn't need to have concrete protection measures.
There's no obligation, or guarantee, for the survival of our native animals. Governments "may" make recovery and protection plans, but it's not mandatory. It's all a facade, and political spin.
Email for Minister for Agriculture and Food Security:
Queensland clearing laws could kill over 400 million native animalsl The Commonwealth must act to stop the destruction.
More about the upcoming 2013 environmental exhibition containing this painting, at end of this article under "Notes".
Humane Society International (HSI) Campaign Director Michael Kennedy said today:
“With the passage of legislation through the Queensland Parliament this week allowing farmers to clear potentially large areas of threatened wildlife habitats and graze cattle in National Parks, and news confirming that an incoming Coalition Government would devolve the Commonwealth’s national environment powers to the states and territories, a national environmental disaster is looming.”
Mr Kennedy continued,
“Under the amendments to Queensland’s Vegetation Management Act, approximately 2,000,000 hectares (5,000,000 acres) of wildlife habitats are at-risk of clearing*. Extrapolating from a scientific report** on the numbers of animals killed during land clearing operations in Queensland during the late 90s, it can be estimated that if all land clearing options were taken up by Queensland farmers, in the region of 455 million native animals could be killed as a result. And even if only a quarter of this land total was cleared, we are still talking about killing over 100 million animals.”
The Commonwealth’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) also protects 14 threatened ecological communities.*** in Queensland, highly endangered habitats that require the Federal Environment Minister’s permission before any development can occur that may significantly affect them. It is estimated* that 169,000 hectares of mature bushland and 366,000 hectares of important regrowth habitats of these threatened ecological communities are now at risk from clearing, presenting Minister Burke with clear reasons for intervening in Queensland.
Cattle grazing is also highly destructive on the natural environment, spreading weeds, significantly damaging waterways and having the potential to destroy critical habitats and native ground-dwelling species. Giving a few private individuals access to a highly valuable public asset, due to their continuing incompetence, is a public policy travesty. Calls by the RSPCA in Queensland to allow cattle to graze in National Parks are chronically misguided, and do not address the root cause of the plight of the animals – greed and prolonged environmental and livestock mismanagement.
Mr Kennedy concluded,
“We are urging the Prime Minister and Environment Minster Burke to change the Federal environment laws so that any incoming Coalition Government cannot devolve national environment powers; introduce new national environment “triggers” for land clearing and the National Reserve System; and to “call-in” Queensland land clearing and cattle grazing proposals and actions for assessment under the EPBC Act.”
***HSI prepared scientific listing proposals for 8 of these threatened communities
Re image, "Apocalypse". From the original site at http://www.cantonart.org/20"This touring art exhibition confronts environmental issues facing human, plant and wildlife species in our time, from land development to natural resource depletion, and seeks to heighten public awareness through the power of art. The show is curated by Dr. David J. Wagner, author of the reference book, American Wildlife Art, and curator/tour director of an impressive list of exhibitions including The Art of Robert Bateman, The Sea of Cortez, and Endangered Species: Flora and Fauna in Peril which toured to the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. The exhibition features iconic works such Still Not Listening, a poem and sculpture of the same title by Leo Osborne, an elegy to victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. (Image: Apocalypse, Walter Ferguson)"
International Biodiversity Day May 22
Humans are appropriating too much water for their own needs and not leaving enough for the survival of other species, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says that water is essential for all life, not just for humans.
“The more water that is taken from rivers and aquifers to supply humans for domestic use, industry and agriculture, the less there is for the myriad of other organisms,” says Ms Goldie.
“Habitat loss or fragmentation, introduced exotic species and diseases, overfishing, and deterioration of aquatic environments due to eutrophication are all threats to inland aquatic biodiversity,” says Ms Goldie.
“Both the world and Australia are suffering a biodiversity crisis. In New South Wales, for instance, the Macquarie Perch, once widespread throughout Australian rivers, has disappeared from the Lachlan River except in one tributary. In a few short years the introduced species, Red Fin, has annihilated not only the perch but possibly also the Yellow Spotted Bell Frog.
“Climate change – an outcome of human activities - is an additional threat to Australia’s biodiversity. Large parts of the country will be desertified while other parts subject to extreme flooding. The effect on biodiversity is likely to be dire,” says Ms Goldie.
There are 7.1 billion humans on the Earth and it is likely there will be at least another two billion mid-century, mostly in developing countries, many of which are already experiencing water stress (when annual water supplies fall below 1,700 cubic metres per person) or scarcity (when annual water supplies fall below 1,000 cubic metres per person). All Arab countries are deemed water scarce; likewise 300 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“As still expanding populations take whatever water is available to grow food, other species will suffer. In parts of China, for instance, excessive pumping of groundwater for agriculture has caused trees to die, taking associated fauna with them.”
Ms Goldie says that for the sake of biodiversity, population growth must end.
Here comes an ATV -- second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How much sensitive habitat have they've murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher...I'd make somebody pay (with apologizes to Bruce Cockburn)
Discovery Coast Recreation District
Ministry of Forests
Campbell River, BC
Dear Mr. MacTavish,
As you are a busy man, you may or may not recall a long conversation I had with you regarding the increasing menace of off-pavement “wreck”-creational vehicles on Quadra Island and elsewhere in this province.
While I am sympathetic to your predicament---- victimized as you are by savage staff level cut-backs by this disasterous Provincial government, an inability to comprehensively monitor or police the woods, inadequate legislation to deal with reckless use of off road vehicles, and the growth of a powerful off-road vehicle lobby----I nevertheless find your Ministry’s proposed solutions woefully unsatisfactory. Requiring these vehicles to display licence plates is of little benefit if the people who drive them are passing you at high speed, and who are typically hostile to anyone who would attempt to stop them for a closer look. And continuing to give over vast tracks of land to these “responsible” groups to further compromise an already beleaguered ecosystem is simply outrageous. (Outrageous, but politically smart. It is sad to reflect that while in 1968, Canadians were awed by a Prime Minister who showed off his passion for hiking, camping, canoeing and fishing, in 2013 we have a Prime Minister who in a photo op in the Yukon last August, willingly offered himself as a gleeful ATV rider to prove that he was a fun-loving guy just like the rest of us. Some fun. Some role model. But a symbol of our times. Instead of Aldo Leopold we get a pathetic Evil Kneivel-wanna be who should be advised to pick a hobby that burns calories.) http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/08/23/stephen-harpers-atv-arctic-photo-op-backfires/
Rather than repeat the arguments I made to you last summer, I thought it best to refer you to the nine page analysis made by my friend and ally, veteran ecologist, wildlife scientist and retired professor from the University of Calgary, Dr. Brian L. Horejsi. (attached “BC Parks in Jeopardy: Doors opening to vehicles on Trails” February 2013). While Dr. Horejsi's focus in this paper is on mountain bikers, his arguments apply with equal force to "motorized" offroad vehicles, which he has targeted in some of his other writings.
Among the many incisive comments that Dr. Horejsi makes, this is one is of particular relevance to forestry and park “management” in BC:
“The pathological premise that continued human and industrial consumption of the biocapacity of public lands (by for example, mountain bikes and bikers) can be “managed” at the impact end (on the trail) as opposed to the decision making “end” (before it starts) threatens dramatic interference with the ecological function of Provincial Parks as we know them today.”
Mr. MacTavish, I know that you are not responsible for Provincial government policy or Ministry directives. You are a harried public sector servant (as I once was) trying to use what powers and influence you have to mitigate what we both think is a serious challenge. I simply want you to read Dr. Horejsi’s analysis, think about it, and pass it on. Perhaps with a change in government in Victoria this coming May, these ideas will find a more receptive audience in the cabinet room and in the upper echelons of the appropriate Ministries than they have in the past dozen years.
On the other hand, even the Official Opposition---presumably the “government-in-waiting”---operates in the prevailing culture. A boorish, hedonistic, self-centered commercial culture where largely young, male thrill-seekers with a “a deep-seated attitude of denial, entitlement and disrespect” have successfully organized to displace hikers and walkers who look to escape from machines to find solace and solitude in the quiet pleasures that nature once allowed. Many of the people who will vote for this victorious party are themselves captive to this addiction to reckless speed, noise and aggression. It is a mentality that I cannot abide, and will oppose to my dying day. But my expectations of any government in this environment are few.
In other words, I will not hold my breath. Bring on $200/barrel oil.
Tim Murray Quathiaski Cove, BC February 4, 2013
Have you ever seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It encompasses a floating island of plastic debris out in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas, about 60 to 90 feet thick, 1,000 miles off San Francisco. It kills millions of marine creatures and avian life in our oceans across the world annually. Over 46,000 pieces of plastic float on every square mile of Earth’s oceans.
By Frosty Wooldridge
Part 2: Does the rest of life on Earth matter? Not to humans. Impacts of destructive population momentum, why the silence on population? The great backtrack.
Have you ever seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It encompasses a floating island of plastic debris out in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas, about 60 to 90 feet thick, 1,000 miles off San Francisco. It kills millions of marine creatures and avian life in our oceans across the world annually. Over 46,000 pieces of plastic float on every square mile of Earth’s oceans. (Source: Whitty) Humans created it, but humans refuse to enact simple 10 cent deposit-return laws to stop it. Some estimates show humans tossing 2.5 million more plastic containers into the world’s oceans every hour.
Such a gross contamination of the oceans continues unabated because humans refuse to clean up after themselves. It brings the question: does any of the other life on Earth matter to human beings?
In the end, do we even care about our own species as we explode our numbers across the planet? Even as 10 million children starve to death annually around the world, we gallop recklessly forward to adding 3.1 billion of ourselves within 38 years. (Source: World Health Organization)
Canadian Reid Westland said,
“There are some really unbelievable temperatures and fires in Australia with no let up in sight. Yet, no direct talk about global warming and no word on human numbers and behaviors contributing to it. We are going to have to be struck solidly between the eyes before any real concerted action is taken. Can you imagine the unrest when wheat hits $10.00 a bushel and corn holds a similar high, not to mention soybeans at $18.00 a bushel? Egypt is a hell hole now and they can't feed themselves. How are they going to buy food? On credit! If there is insufficient grain and credit dries up, they will consume what little is left of the "natural world". From 10 million elephants in 1900 to less than 470,000 in 2013, can you imagine as we eat and carve up the last of them for trinkets? We are at war with global warming and the enemy is us! We just refuse to face up to our actions and profligate numbers. We are at war with the natural world to keep our numbers growing! Wolves, grizzlies, mountain lions, deer, moose, elk and big horn sheep have lived in a dynamic state of equilibrium for eons. The great jungles and Serengeti's of the earth weren't denuded by any creature but man.”
In Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation by Professor Philip Cafaro of Colorado State University and Professor Eileen Crist of Virginia Tech, we find the top authors and scientists in the world attempting to alert humanity to its impending future viability on this planet.
Apparently, we humans lack the common sense of a Canadian goose. We fail to act on our present realities of pollution, poisons, cancers, scarce water supplies and dwindling energy sources on our breakneck race to add another 1.1 billion of ourselves every 12 years.
“At this point, it’s almost certainly too late to manage a transition to sustainability on a global or national scale, even if the political will to attempt it existed, which it clearly does not. Our civilization is in the early stages of the same curve of decline and fall as so many others have followed before it. What likely lies in wait for us is a long, uneven decline into a new Dark Age from which, centuries from now, the civilizations of the future will gradually emerge.”
That quote does not warrant manifestation if we take action in 2013. It will certainly manifest if we fail to act.
Crist and Cafaro said,
“The explosion of humanity has decimated many animal and plant populations, extinguished species and sub-species, and caused collapsing ecologies and the shrinking and fragmentation of wild places. Ocean life has been reduced to food and by-catch; rainforests razed for meat and soybeans, boreal forests cut down for wood, mountains detonated for coals and natural gas and grasslands overgrazed and converted strictly into human breadbaskets while freshwaters are dammed, dumped into, overfished and channelized.”
All of these actions destroy animal habitat and reduce wildlife to penury on a scale that few understand or see. Both authors submit that humanity must change course and make radical changes in the human population equation.
Cafaro and Crist said,
“We have to make revolutionary changes in how we live on Earth—including limiting how many of us inhabit it.”
Less than 150 years ago, we humans counted a total of 1.5 billion of our numbers. Today, at 7.1 billion and adding 80 million net gain annually, 1 billion every 12 years—none of the other creatures on this planet stand a chance as we devour everything in sight—water, energy, land, food, resources and more.
Our greatest challenge stems from the fact that most of us cannot and do not “see” what damage we wreck upon the Earth. Not 1 percent of humanity has seen or knows about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Not 1 percent of humanity knows that human encroachment on habitat causes the extinction of 80 to 100 creatures daily in 2013 and that’s been proceeding for over 30 years as our numbers explode. Not 1 percent of humanity is doing anything about it.
This book will bring it home to you. It will prove one of the most important books of the 21st century. Let’s learn and let’s change course.
“We've poured our poisons into the world as though it were a bottomless pit…and we go on gobbling them up. It's hard to imagine how the world could survive another century of this abuse, but nobody's really doing anything about it. It's a problem our children will have to solve, or their children.” Daniel Quinn
At some point, the problem will become unsolvable and irreversible. Which means all life on Earth will suffer enormous consequences.
Part 3: Destructive momentum by Catton, Population growth by Bartlett, what we face if we fail to change
Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation
Authors: Philip Cafaro, Eileen Crist
Publisher: The University of Georgia Press, www.ugapress.org
Price: $24.95 www.amazon.com
The author of this article, Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. He presents "The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He speaks all over the United States on his latest book: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World. Copies at 1 888 280 7715.
Programs click: HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Kelvin Thomson, MP for Wills, has written to Prime Minister Gillard, asking her to consider and respond to the concerns of constituents about planned changes to the federal environment act. Have any other ministers done this? We would like to hear from them if so. See also this article which contains links to petitions etc.
September is Biodiversity Month and its purpose is to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biological diversity in Australia and globally. Australia has between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many of which are endemic.Human activities are reducing genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity in Australia and population growth is a major driver, according to Sustainable Population Australia Inc. (SPA)
The Growling Grass Frog, one of the largest frog species in Australia, was previously widespread across Victoria. They are now endangered. Southern Brown Bandicoots once occurred commonly in the wider Frankston area (pre-1970s). They have rapidly declined and are now restricted to isolated remnant habitat patches. They have little chance of long term survival against the economic benefits of population growth. Without robust ecosystems, with each natural species contributing its part to the web of life, we end in a barren, artificial and sterile, wastelands. (First posted
Posted July 13th, 2012; Reposted July 15, 2012.)
The Growling Grass Frog, one of the largest frog species in Australia, was previously widespread across Victoria. They were once so abundant In Victoria that they were used for dissections in universities and to feed the snakes at the Melbourne Zoo.
The now endangered Growling Grass Frog were once so common around parts of Melbourne that they were the only frogs people saw.
Worldwide, amphibian have declined and become extinct at a greater rate over the past fifty years than birds, reptiles and mammals. Australia alone has seen the extinction of eight frog species in recent decades. At least 27% of the 219 Australian frog species are threatened with extinction.
Wildlife species cannot be “saved” in the long term by protecting them solely in captivity in zoos or small reserves. Without the existence of sustainable wild populations interacting with their environment, and evolving, each species will end up hopelessly inbred, and eventually doomed to extinction. Apart from high quality wetlands, they need grassland habitat for foraging, dispersal and shelter, and overwintering sites.
An anthropocentric colonial concept assumes that "vacant" land is a wasted resource unless there is concrete, lawns, landfill, infrastructure and housing on it.
The framework to protect our native species, even endangered ones, can easily be "revised" and made impotent against the lucrative economic momentum of the property development industry.
The expansion of the urban boundary is not really urban planning but a caving into market forces and the greed for growth.
Native species are victims of relentless government efforts to increase the size of our economy. However, each species, even humble native frogs, have intrinsic value and a role to play in maintaining our shared ecological foundation.
Part of the problem of protecting Melbourne's "marvelous" status is that Melbourne's population continues to grow. Those governing and making decisions on planning assume the adage that "growth is good". Population growth has become a synonym for economic-growth.
We are outstripping our ability to provide for the demands of our swelling population. This is a time of job losses, and a decline in our once vibrant manufacturing base. An economy that relies on housing inevitably comes hits the limits of growth with the inability of being able to fund infrastructure, especially for the outer growth suburbs.
We are being strangled by an economy built for failure. The short-term benefits of land taxes, cash flows and stamp duty etc fail to cover the long term costs of urban expansion.
The goal should be to grow the economy until the costs are higher than the benefits. At this stage we need wisdom, and the political willpower to stop growing. Our growth is now uneconomic, counterproductive and destructive.
City planning has become synonymous to the greed for growth at all costs.
Protections for key threatened species in areas added to Victoria's urban growth boundaries by the Baillieu government have been wound back under yet to be released biodiversity plans.
Under the revised plans — which still need approval by the Commonwealth — proposals for wildlife corridors for rare bandicoots have been scrapped and buffer zones for threatened frogs reduced.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot, which is listed as threatened in Victoria, would have set up corridors for the species to move between habitats in Melbourne's south-east, will be re-written by the end of the year – no doubt watered-down to make more ease for developers.
Southeast Melbourne and the Westernport region are home to some of the few remaining populations of Victoria's endangered Southern Brown Bandicoots outside of national parks.
The proposed buffer zones around waterways and wetlands to protect the Growling Frog populations will also be reassessed and weakened. It's an effort to make green wedges and conservation corridors more rubbery and eventually non-existent.
According to the VPNA media release 12 June, Obviously the Victorian Government has been captured by developers and is failing to take into account long-term conservation and community needs.
On 16 April 2010, the federal environment minister approved several prescriptions for ecological communities and threatened species associated with the Melbourne strategic assessment. These prescriptions specify requirements for protection of nationally protected matters that must be followed in preparing precinct structure plans and in undertaking individual developments.
The expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary will also include the clearing of critically endangered grassland and woodlands, as well as the establishment of large grassland reserves west of the city and 200m wildlife corridors on each side of creeks.
Our slow-evolving species need to adapt to more disturbances, smaller fragments, narrower gene pools and thinner remnant habitats - what the developers and our State government condescends to “save” for them.
Southern Brown Bandicoots once occurred commonly in the wider Frankston area (pre-1970s). They have rapidly declined and are now restricted to isolated remnant habitat patches. Presently there are only two known populations within 15 km of the Pines Flora Fauna Reserve, namely the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) and at Quail Island in Western Port Bay. The population at RBGC is the only population in the greater Melbourne area large enough and managed appropriately to be considered secure. It's the thin-edge of the knife!
Nationally threatened species such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth should be protected before final urban growth plans are released. But this hasn't happened as yet! Instead of green landscapes and green policies, they are being based on greed.
Peninsula Link's builders are spending $20 million on eco-friendly initiatives including a "furry freeway" for endangered wildlife. A 30m-wide underpass will allow animals including the protected southern brown bandicoot to cross below the freeway. Picketers were attempting to save native bushland from being cleared until the appeal was heard and were keeping a 24-hour vigil at the Frankston South Westerfield property, a pristine pre-settlement biodiversity hot-spot. Bulldozers razed the area anyway, and the “furry freeway” for endangered wildlife is simply tokenism. Property prices in the Peninsula are expected to surge.
Coalition co-ordinator Rosemary West said the inclusion of a Cranbourne South egg farm within the urban growth area could rebound on the government at the next election. Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the decision to rezone the 104-hectare Brompton Lodge egg farm in June this year following a logical inclusions review. The review committee concluded it was not high-quality agricultural land and the egg farm was not viable in the long term. What is “viable in the long term” now? Nothing in the way of “progress” and urban sprawl!
It also recommended incorporating the adjoining Ranfurlie Golf Course within the urban growth area. Coalition co-ordinator Rosemary West said the rezoning was very poor planning, with Brompton Lodge surrounded by green wedge on two of three sides.
It's beautiful land, it's in the path of a proposed southern brown bandicoot corridor between the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne and The Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve in Frankston North , and it's a viable egg farm. It's doomed to yield 1100 housing lots!
Native animals, conservation corridors, food production, green wedges and picturesque land and our city's “lungs” can't hold back the spread of concrete, housing and the lucrative profits from population growth.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke will have to give environmental approval before the growth plans can proceed. However, with State government having control over biodiversity and with no population policy coming from Burke, also the Minister of Sustainable Population, there is little chance the answer will be “no”!
CAIRNS, Australia -- International Coral Symposium. "The impacts of a warming climate on reefs is not a future event. Complex changes have already begun that could fundamentally change what reefs look like in the future." Picture: Coral growing on plastic bottle
Picture: Coral faded through stress.
See Proceeedings from 12th International Coral Reef Symposium.
That was the overarching message today from a panel of coral reef experts, who are on the forefront of understanding the varied impacts of a rising seawater temperatures and ocean acidification on such areas ranging from coral growth and fish behaviour to the ability of reefs to provide fish and other services to millions of people worldwide.
The panel conducted a media briefing on climate change and at the International Coral Reef Symposium, the premier coral reef conference held every four years and a hotbed of the latest advances in coral reef science. The research and findings presented at ICRS 2012 are fundamental in informing international and national policies and the sustainable use of coral reefs globally.
The panel included Janice M. Lough, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science; John M. Pandolfi, of the University of Queensland; Roberto Iglesias Prieto, of the National Autonomous University of México; and Philip L. Munday, of James Cook University.
"Tropical coral reef waters are already significantly warmer than they were and the rate of warming is accelerating," said Janice Lough. "With or without drastic curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions we are facing, for the foreseeable future, changes in the physical environment of present-day coral reefs."
Lough said, over the past century global temperatures have warmed by 0.7oC and those of the surface tropical oceans by 0.5oC. This raising of baseline temperatures has already resulted in widespread coral bleaching events and outbreaks of coral diseases. Current projections indicate that the tropical oceans could be 1-3oC warmer by the end of this century.
Lough focuses on long-term growth histories from massive coral skeletons. Even with the modest amount of warming to date -compared to future projections-coral growth rates are responding to these observed temperature changes. Several reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, have witnessed slower massive coral growth in recent decades, while cooler reef sites off Western Australia have, initially, responded by increasing their growth rates. The latter is unlikely to be sustainable, given the setbacks in growth following coral bleaching and, as temperatures continue to warm, optimum temperatures for coral growth are exceeded, she said.
Pandolfi further elaborated that there is large variation in the vulnerability of coral reef species in their response to temperature change and ocean acidification, so some taxa may survive but others could go extinct. In addition, coral reefs that are already degraded from human pressures, such as overfishing or land-based pollution, will be much less likely to handle the increase in temperature and ocean acidity
"There will be winners and losers in climate change and ocean acidification, but reefs will demonstrably change and, for most people's idea of what reefs are, not for the better," says John Pandolfi.
Picture: Tires litter the ocean floor.
Pandolfi added that ultimately the global community must act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But new science is also showing that, given that the impact on corals will be more variable than first realized, our management approaches must become more sophisticated, with particular focus on reducing local threats such as overexploitation and pollution. Managing reefs for local stress will ensure maximum health as they continue to confront a changing global climate.
Munday said changes to coral reef habitat caused by climate change will also potentially lead to changed fish populations. The direct impacts, which are already occurring, are reduced coral cover and less habitat structure for fish.
"That will mean fewer species and lower fish abundance," Munday said. "Some species will fair better than others. For example, fish that eat coral will be more severely impacted, but overall we can expect a decline in fish numbers."
Over time, he said, more carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean can also cause abnormal behavior in fish leading to reduced survival. In a recent study, Munday and his team examined the changes to fish in tanks with artificially high levels of carbon dioxide. They found neurological changes that resulted in fish being less effective at avoiding predators, because of adverse impacts to their sense of smell and an increased tendency to stray further from reef areas where they can hide. At the same time, some fish showed, over generations, an ability to adjust to temperatures changes.
"Like coral, there will be winners and losers and the communities of fish we see on reefs in the future are likely to be different to those of today," Munday said.
Roberto Iglesias-Prieto underscored that these changes will ultimately have severe impacts on the millions of people worldwide who depend on reefs for food, income and storm protection. Reefs also contribute to national economies through such sectors as tourism and commercial fisheries.
"To truly understand the impacts of climate change on reefs, you have to be an ecologist, an economist and a political scientist," Iglesias-Prieto said.
CO2 Group's Chief CEO, Andrew Grant says that anthropogenic climate change science is quite simple really: "It's a function of increased population on the earth." Candobetter.net received the following as a press release today. We obviously like the idea of wildlife corridors connecting national parks. By the same token, nothing in the corporate or the government area can be taken at face value. Until the corridors are established; until we can see that more is not taken away by related interests somewhere else, we have to remain cautious. Nonetheless, on face value, this is cheering news. So is the Chief CEO of CO2 Group's attitude to human population growth and carbon emissions.
Asked by the Australian Financial Review interviewer, "What is your scientific understanding of human co2 emissions which are causing dangerous levels of global warming?", Andrew Grant, Chief CEO of the C02 Group, said:
"Well, it's really rather simple. It's a function of increased population on the earth and if you go back into look at population history for example it took from the beginning of time to 1880 for the earth to get its first billion people. Now we're at seven billion. Fundamentally what we have done is cut down 20 per cent of the world's forests and liberated that carbon into the atmosphere and then we've burnt fossil fuels at a rate where we've taken a large amount of carbon from fossil fuel reserves and put them into the atmosphere. So it's no more complex than that. As humans we have liberated more carbon at a rate quicker than the carbon cycle can handle. And it's not a good or a bad thing. There's no value based in this, but the simple reality of doing that is it changes global weather patterns. The debate really is not do we need to act? Even in Australia where it's very politicised, both parties say they support reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. The debate is how."
Melbourne 8 May 2012: CO2 Group is pleased to announce it has been successful in gaining funding for two projects of the Federal Government’s Biodiversity Fund. The grants, worth $3.8 million, will support two projects in Western Australia and New South Wales.
CO2 Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Grant said: “We are delighted to receive these grants, which we see as recognition of the quality of our work in the Australian market and our deep environmental expertise.
“Our projects will research, map, design and implement targeted biodiversity enhancements across Australia’s largest commercial forest carbon sink estate. We manage a 26,400 ha estate across 30 properties in Australia’s highly fragmented wheat-sheep belt, including sites within the south-west Western Australia biodiversity hotspot.
“The two projects will integrate biodiversity outcomes with large-scale commercial carbon plantings, creating a unique partnership between a for-profit commercial entity and the government. A partnership of this nature and scale has not been attempted outside the not-for-profit sector,” said Mr Grant.
In Western Australia, the CO2 Group project will take tangible steps toward the establishment of vital corridors between both Lake Magenta Nature Reserve and Fitzgerald National Park and Corackerup National Park and Fitzgerald National Park. These corridor links will contribute to the capacity of the reserves to continue to function and facilitate biodiversity conservation in face of uncertain climatic challenges ahead.
CO2 Group’s project in WA will contribute to the Fitz-Stirling Functional Landscape Plan, the Carnaby's black cockatoo Recovery Plan and also assist with the conservation of a range of other nationally and regionally significant conservation targets such as western whipbird, mallee fowl, tammar wallaby, western mouse, and black gloved wallaby.
In New South Wales, CO2 Group’s project adjoins conservation reserves in central NSW. The selected sites will contribute to consolidation of the regional conservation estate as well as enhancing connectivity between some reserves. The reserves that will benefit include Goonoo National Park, Goonoo State Conservation Area, Pillaga State Conservation Area and Pillaga West State Conservation Area. Conservation target species include the black glossy cockatoo, mallee fowl and sugar glider. Specific flora of conservation significance may contribute to the revegetation and restoration actions.
Another CO2 Group project site in NSW offers an opportunity to commence consolidation of a chain of remnant vegetation stands along a 100km section in the Upper Central West and Plains of NSW.
All of the projects supported by the Biodiversity Fund will help to revegetate, rehabilitate and restore more than 18 million hectares of the Australian landscape over the next six years.
CO2 Group has a history of being a leader in its field and was the first organisation to achieve accreditation for reforestation projects under the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme and the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. With 26,400 hectares under management across the country, plus 3500 hectares of native remnant vegetation, CO2 Group is the largest provider of dedicated carbon sink plantings in Australia. The company currently manages landmark commercial contracts for Qantas Airways, Eraring Energy, Macquarie Bank, Woodside Energy, INPEX Browse, Origin Energy, Newmont Mining and Wannon Water."
End of Press Release.
Please comment on this article and tell us what you may have experienced about this group and its work. Obviously this kind of investment seems infinitely superior to land speculation in its usual form, which is to clear land, build infrastructure and housing, then invite loads of people into the country in order to drive up the price of the housing. We don't see the downside of this kind of investment, except where it impinges on property rights and common land of indigenous and other Australians. But we could be naive. Obviously we have a positive view of a CEO who seems to understand the importance of human population growth in the creation of pollution/atmospheric change. Marketing companies, such as the one that sent the press release on, also understand that ecological blogs like that kind of statement. The Primeminister got support against Kevin Rudd for that kind of statement. How sincere is it? We don't know.
The current system of protection is failing Australian wildlife. Too little too late. Does legislation claiming to protect really cause habitat destruction? Current legislation let wildlife numbers fall too low, creating genetic bottlenecks that reduce long term chance of species survival. Even the largest national park is just a gene puddle, rather than a gene pool, if it is not connected to other habitat.
Article by James Fitzgerald, NSW Wildlife Council
Photo of Koala Todd. James Fitzgerald looked after Todd for 3 months last year. Todd was found starving to the north of Cooma NSW, in open farmland without a gum tree in sight. A young dispersing male, he was looking for a new population to join but with so much habitat cleared he ended up lost in open grassland, underweight, dehydrated and starving. After Todd regained weight and was cleared by the Vet he was successfully released back into the wild on 30 November 2011.
The federal government’s decision to list the koala as threatened in NSW and Queensland, is a small step in the right direction but unfortunately does not prevent logging in the koala forests of NSW or Queensland.
The Australian koala population prior to British settlement is estimated at having exceeded 10 million. A population of this size would reduce bushfire risk by providing over two million tonnes per year of hazard reduction eating of gum leaves. Gum leaves are the most explosively flammable part of the Australian bush. Too often little recognition is given to the positive services Australian wildlife would provide if normal population levels were re-established.
A significant factor in the fragmentation of the Australian koala population was the large-scale killing of koalas for their skins in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In Queensland in just one month August 1927, some 584,000 koala skins were sold.
Australia’s fragmented koala population could now be as low as 40,000 and declining.
It is a long-established scientific fact that fragmented populations of animals become genetically weaker over time. The genetic weakness then causes the fragmented populations to start to die out as they are no longer able to fight diseases or adapt to changes in their environment. The correct approach to save the koala is to restore habitat within a system of wildlife corridors to enable the koala gene pool to flow via the normal dispersal of young males.
There is a growing concern that the current system of protection is failing Australian wildlife. It is often too little too late. Some koala conservationists would go so far to claim that legislation aimed to protect actually enables the destruction of koala habitat.
In any case, current protections allow animal numbers to get down to low numbers, creating genetic bottlenecks that significantly reduce their long term survival prospects.
The NSW Wildlife Council believes that a benchmark based on pre-British settlement population estimates should be used to restore wildlife populations to at least 10 per cent of the estimate by re-establishing gene pools, habitat and wildlife corridors. Using pre-British estimates as a benchmark recognises the inter-relational connectivity of species. The current wildlife protection system does not provide for the many mutually beneficial relationships that exist in the natural world.
It is important to consider that even the largest national park is just a gene puddle if it is not connected to other habitat.
Wildlife rehabilitation groups know that male animals are over represented in road kill because of their need to disperse and find other populations. Prior to the large-scale killing of koalas for their skins the koala gene pool flowed up and down and across most of eastern Australia. For koalas to survive in the long term, the fragmented populations need habitat restored and most likely a supplementary breeding program guided by geneticists to reconnect the populations. The aim to rebuild the koala population to at least 10 per cent of pre-British estimates using this method is not unachievable. All it needs is community and political will.
As the koala population is rebuilt it would be necessary to re-establish animals like the Powerful Owl, as this predator would play its role in ensuring survival of the fittest by taking the occasional young koala from an unfit or inattentive koala mother. Other animals like the glider possum that help pollinate trees and is also a prey species for the Powerful Owl would need to be rebuilt so that the Powerful Owl didn’t focus all of its attention on the koala. It is these types inter-relational connections across species and the roles they play in the natural world that are not recognised in the current system of wildlife protection in Australia.
Wildlife corridors need to be defined and wildlife-friendly people and businesses encouraged to buy land along the corridors with conservation agreements and reduced rates. The bang for the buck is that wildlife corridors of re-established and connected habitat will benefit not just the koala but many other native plants and animals. It might be appropriate to reduce some of the native vegetation controls outside wildlife corridors. People would then have a choice based on their belief systems and or business needs as to where it would be best for them to live and or own land.
The 2007 United Nations Global Environmental Outlook 4 report (GEO-4), identified species collapse as a major environmental threat. We are now in the world’s sixth great extinction event. Current man-made extinction rates are 100 times higher than the base level in the fossil record.
Australia has the worst record for animal extinctions. The failure of the current protection system will end up with more animals endangered… not a functioning ecosystem. Fertility is a product of nature that is needed to replenish depleted soils that farmers and human food production ultimately depends.
Is the Australian public happy that since British settlement we have destroyed 99.5 per cent of Australia’s koala population? Most Australians have not seen a koala in the wild because of this destruction. It is now well overdue for Australia to rectify the wrongs of the past and rebuild a one million strong healthy connected koala population.
James Fitzgerald is the NSW Wildlife Council media officer.
"Minister Burke has ruled out protection for all koalas and we are concerned these northwest NSW koala populations may be left off the threatened species list, even while their populations are falling dangerously low." Zoologist David Paull: 75 per cent decline in the relative abundance of koalas in the Pilliga from 1993 to 2011. Estimates only 500 to 2000 koalas left in the area. “The spread of mines and gas wells, tree kills from coal seam gas spills and increased vehicles through the Pilliga Forest will likely put extra strain on these already declining koala populations." Wilderness Society, 29 April 2012.(This article elevates to an article a comment "Media Release - The Wilderness Society on Koalas," posted by Bandicoot on April 29-2012.)
Koalas must be included on the national threatened species list as part of Environment Minister Tony Burke's 30 April announcement, especially in NSW’s Gunnedah region and the Pilliga Forest where they face the additional threat of expanding coal mining and coal seam gas operations, according to the Wilderness Society.
“Koalas need to be protected across Australia as they are rapidly declining in numbers, especially in the Pilliga Forest, where three- quarters of the population has been wiped since 2000,” Naomi Hogan of the Wilderness Society said today.
"Minister Burke has ruled out protection for all koalas and we are concerned these northwest NSW koala populations may be left off the threatened species list, even while their populations are falling dangerously low.
“Gunnedah is known as the ‘Koala Capital of the World’, yet recent scientific studies show koala numbers across the region and in the nearby Pilliga Forest are seriously declining.”
Zoologist David Paull has recorded a 75 per cent decline in the relative abundance of koalas in the Pilliga from 1993 to 2011. He said the population was relatively stable until 2000 and estimates there are only 500 to 2000 koalas left in the area.
“In 1993 I would take tours through the Pilliga and we would always see koalas, the river banks would be teeming with female koalas with babies on their backs,” said zoologist David Paull, an associate of the University of New England. “Now, you are lucky to see them.”
Miss Hogan continued: “These northwest NSW koala hotspots are the target of very rapid and aggressive coal seam gas and coal mining expansion. The Pilliga Forest is covered by a proposal for the largest coal seam gas field in NSW, while the Liverpool Plains are threatened
by coal seam gas pilot wells at Spring Ridge and Marys Mount. Koalas in Leard State Forest are facing three enormous open-cut coal mines.
“The spread of mines and gas wells, tree kills from coal seam gas spills and increased vehicles through the Pilliga Forest will likely put extra strain on these already declining koala populations.
“The 2011 Senate Inquiry into koalas recognised the major threats to Koalas are habitat degradation, vehicle strikes and fire – all of which are likely to increase in the Pilliga Forest, Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah areas if coal seam gas mining proceeds.
“Koalas are an Australian icon that deserves Federal protection.” Contact Naomi Hogan, The Wilderness Society Newcastle: 0401 650 411
David Paull, Zoologist in the Pilliga Forest: 0424 252 244
Prue Bodsworth, The Wilderness Society Newcastle: 0427 417 870
PS: Tony Burke wants to exclude the latest modern threat to koala's from an overall protective status, yet they are a national, world-wide recognizable native animal? The Koala Capital's exclusion for coal seam mining would make mockery of any threatened status!
Partial Source: Media Release -The Wilderness Society on Koalas
On April 29th, 2012
Three-quarter of Koala population wiped out
This area is sublimely beautiful. We simply CANNOT let a dam be built here! How many creeks in Australia still have crystal clear running water in their creeks or rivers?
How many areas have such a diversity of native fauna and flora as at Byrrill Creek?
In addition to the extensive material found in my other article on Byrrill Creek (see http://candobetter.net/node/2256 ), here are some more reasons to oppose such a dam in this pristine, irreplaceably precious location:-
• Byrrill Creek is a high riparian conservation status area. Tweed Vegetation Management Strategy allocated the area High Conservation Status 2 (considered rare) comprising less than 0.7% of all bushland, with most of the best examples within Byrrill Creek. A total of 400 ha would be clear felled.
• It is unnecessary to have a dam in an area of high rainfall.
• Tweed Shire has been christened ‘The Green Cauldron.’ Our high conservation area would be lost to future generations as a place of beauty and a tourist destination if it was dammed. Residents & tourists could no longer travel in a scenic circuit around Mt Warning as there would probably be no access including the shortcut by locals from Byrrill Creek to Tyalgum.
• There has never been any public consultation. Recommendations from the Community Working Group (CWG) were ignored by Tweed councillors.
• According to Dr Steve Phillips of Biolink, this area is core koala habitat.
• A dam would inundate Aboriginal Heritage sites on Council land.
• Toxic chemicals (many now banned) from 2 abandoned dip sites in the catchment area may have leached into the surrounding soil and therefore would ultimately pollute the dam water. Additionally, Tweed council land was sprayed with 24D and 245T (active constituents of Agent Orange) for years around 1984 and may have residual effects in soil and water quality.
• A dam would be a barrier to fish, eels, platypus, turtles and other aquatic species & interrupt migration and breeding patterns. The endangered Giant Barred Frog have spread down the Tweed River from Byrrill Creek. Therefore construction of a dam would eliminate this species' breeding pool.
• Already $1,000,000 ratepayers’ funds have been wasted by Tweed council on dam studies.
• Tillegra dam cost increased by 59% in 3 years yet was still canned. While a big dam at Byrrill Creek is estimated at $67.3 million, costs could very quickly escalate as they do with other dams.
• Considerable opposition has been expressed by the Residents Associations of Tweed, Murwillumbah, Pottsville, Hastings Point, and Uki (representing 70% Tweeds population). Letters from these organisations were presented to Council strongly objecting to a dam at Byrrill Creek. Additionally, 5,000 petition signatures were collected in 3 weeks and tabled in the NSW Upper House.
• When they fail (since all dams fail eventually, some catastrophically, most slowly), huge waste of millions of taxpayers’ dollars
• Promote algae blooms
• Interrupt breeding patterns and limit migration of species
• Destroy natural water courses
• Permanently destroy natural habitat for wildlife and contribute to species extinctions
• Destroy people’s homes and lifestyles
• Inadequate remuneration to displaced people
• Expensive to build, maintain and repair
• Risk of sudden failure leading to inundation of towns due to earthquake or extreme unpredicted rain
• Construction time can be several years with earthmoving and noisy construction 24/7
• New road alignments required
Tweed's population is estimated to double due to several large housing estates being constructed on the coast. For example Kings Forest is planning for 15,000 people, Cobaki Lakes about the same. Unfortunately neither of these developments have water-saving incentives in place. You have to wonder why Tweed councillors are so determined to have a dam at Byrrill Creek. We could speculate that they have friends in the construction industry or that they are thinking the Gold Coast might have a drought in the future and we could sell them our surplus water, providing more income for council. Who knows?
Since the pros are far outweighed by the cons, dams could be replaced by sustainable options (large rainwater tanks, grey water recycling, dual reticulation, stormwater harvesting, wise water use etc). All new developments such as Cobaki Lakes, Kings Forest, Terranora E, Bilambel Heights and so on) should be self-sufficient water-wise. Dams are just not the best option to meet long-term water supply needs of the shire. While initial setup costs may be high, still the long-term cost is far less than a dam that has a lifespan of approximately 50-100 years. In this way, our natural environment, habitat for threatened species, would be protected, averting localised extinctions and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.
• Precautionary principle – Uncertain if threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage could be minimised to acceptable level.
• Best professional advice from Tweed Council Water Staff, Community Working Group, NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water (DECCW) and National Parks recommended against a dam at Byrrill Creek.
• Probably won’t be approved under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (not adequately considering input from the community).
For more info go to http://www.savebyrrillcreek.com
Truly, Byrrill Creek is a National Treasure. We must not allow greed, ignorance and human stupidity to destroy it.
NSW Department of Health has approval to build a $2.5 million health centre for South Tweed Coast residents in Pottsville. Locals are currently on a waiting list to see a doctor so the need is urgent. The only problem is a critical koala food tree has been in the way of their planned parking lot. Tweed Coast koalas (with less than 144 remaining) are predicted to become locally extinct within 5 years due to developments taking up koala real estate. The question is: are koalas more important or are people more important? Or can people co-exist with koalas in the suburbs? In this case, sadly the koalas lost out .... once again.
A few years ago I had a prophetic dream. In the dream I was in a building by the coast, opposite the beach. It was night. I went outside and was taken aback to find a koala sitting on the pavement, alone. The koala was looking up at the sky, stunned. Telepathically I asked him what was the matter, why wasn't he in a tree somewhere. He replied "There was a tree right there .... it's gone!" I looked up at the sky and there was indeed no leaves or branches. To my left was a tree further down the block but it had no leaves for the koala to eat. Here he was, all alone, confused, hungry and lost. Without his favourite tree he couldn't eat or have refuge from predators like dogs and cars. Sadness filled my heart and I picked up the koala in my arms, not knowing what I could do to help, and took him upstairs to my room. Alas, he couldn't stay there either as that was not his place. Back on the street downstairs there were no trees anywhere left for him. I woke up with a terrible pain in my heart, which has never left me.
Today I received a self-congratulatory letter from the Department of Health saying how wonderful this development will be for humans and how delighted everyone has been. They went on to explain that the Forest Red Gum at the site for a new health centre (Pottsville HealthOne Centre) was chopped down on March 15. I have been campaigning to try and get this tree protected for the last few months yet quietly, like a ship in the night, the deed was done without anyone even knowing.
Other people have also been campaigning to save this tree – see http://www.tweedecho.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3173&Itemid=538
I feel devastated .... somewhere, right now, is a koala alone in the night confused, disoriented because his favourite tree is gone. And what a magnificent tree it was, around 90 years old. He has no idea what happened. He didn't see the humans chopping it down or understand why they did it. All he knows is that his tree has been there for his whole life, could be used to navigate by, and now it is gone .... is he wondering if he is lost, got his co-ordinates wrong or suffering from delusion?
All across Australia many koalas are experiencing this terrible dilemma. The stress of losing a favourite tree can cause koalas to stop eating and breeding, not just become disoriented and confused. Koalas are treated by planners as pawns in a game of chess. They are moved to another area so humans can use their former territory to build another school, hospital or shopping centre for more and more ‘plague’ humans; their trees are felled. But that is OK because there are 'offsets' like compensatory tree plantings (that take 10 years to mature and in the 10 year lifespan of a koala, that is too late). In bush regeneration it is well known that while replanting and regenerating is important, the most important thing is to RETAIN the existing native flora.
Is chopping down one koala tree and a few secondary koala trees (i.e. non-food trees but used by koalas just the same) really such a big deal, you may be wondering? When you consider there are less than 144 koalas remaining on Tweed coast and that ecologist Dr Steve Phillips regarded the Forest Red Gum tree as primary koala habitat and 'critical' for the survival of koalas using them, the answer is yes. Koalas are currently being nominated to be listed on the Tweed Coast as Endangered. Not only is this one tree a koala food tree but together with the other two secondary koala trees, Scribbly Gum, they form a corridor. Wildlife corridors are in great jeopardy on the coast due to ongoing housing developments and infrastructure.
Tweed Shire council has a plan in place called 'Koala Connections Project' with $100,000 funding, whose aim was to connect the 4 main areas where koalas currently live on the coast. This project appears not to have legs if it couldn’t stop a development like HealthOne from destroying three trees comprising a threatened ecological community which used to be lowland forest that became a mere remnant. In fact council's approval to fell this tree flies in the face of their own 'Koala Connections Project.'
The Executive Summary from state government said that this area had 'little conservation significance' and there were 'no significant impacts' warranting referral to the EPBC Act (Federal).
Tweed Shire council, in spite of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on all koala food trees (Tallow Wood, Grey Gum, Swamp Mahogany and Forest Red Gum), gave approval for this tree to be removed. Once the Development Application (DA) has been approved, the TPO can be waived. How convenient. Council took almost a year to decide to accept this DA. Council staff told me that because Dept Health offered $50,000 as an 'offset' towards the construction of a culvert that koalas could use to safely cross the road whenever future road works there took place, council accepted the proposal. Who knows how long it will take to build this culvert or if koalas will use it? One thing for sure, koalas sure won’t be able to eat it. Will there be signposts in koala language directing the lost, confused, disoriented and hungry koalas to use the culvert to cross the road? And for what, if there are no more food trees over there? Isn’t that why they cross roads to get to trees they can eat?
Some council ecologists and also councillors themselves felt that koalas can't survive in urban areas due to prevalence of vehicle collisions and dog attacks so therefore it’s not worth saving the tree. Councillor Dot Holdom said “We don't want urban koalas.” Isn't there a way that people could co-exist with koalas, not just tolerate their existence but work to minimise dangers to them?
Just over the border on the Gold Coast, the city council has 5 ecologists working on their 'Urban Koala Project' which appears to be working quite well. A friend of mine sent me photos taken from his daughter's back verandah in Tugun of koalas resting in backyard trees. Last week I was at someone's house in Currumbin and the people there said they often saw koalas in trees in their back yards - all this in spite of the fact that the area is residential and plagued by dogs and cars, somehow the koalas survive.
Other ways to help koalas survive is to mandate cat and dog enclosures in residential areas where koalas still live or traverse, especially in new housing developments such as Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes. It has already been done by Logan City council in Brisbane LINK. Given how few koalas are left, isn't it time we started to enclose dogs collect data on roadkill hotspots so we know where to put more road signs, speed bumps, speed limits, speed cameras, road overpasses or underpasses with exclusion fencing? Or should we just wait till they all die so we can get on with our lives?
Are we the only species that count? Do we need other species at all? Does the fact that Australia has the world's worst record for mammal extinctions have anything to do with this development? You bet it does because as usual, humans come first, koalas last. In the words of Tweed councillor Joan van Lieshout 'Humans are more important than koalas.'
What people don’t understand is that we need biodiversity of tree species – some red gum, some scribbly. That is why important to save this tree – there just aren’t many left. Not only did koalas use this forest red gum, but being a winter flowering tree other species used it, some coming from national parks far away.
At least Tweed councillor Katie Milne had the sense to request other councillors to write to the Health Dept for a review of the building. It was rejected. You'd think that the building could be redesigned with ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles in mind so that there was a two story carpark or an undercover carpark so the trees could be left standing with a 3-4 metre corridor for the koalas? Is that asking too much? Apparently.
In 5 years if there are no more koalas on the Tweed Coast, we can look back and name those who were responsible for this tragic decision – NSW Dept of Health, Tweed Shire council – plus those who could have made a difference but did nothing, such as the Koala Advisory Group (chaired by Councillor Dot Holdom), Jeff Provest and Justine Elliott (local members who funded Bush Futures, which also did nothing to save this tree). Where was the Environmental Protection Authority or National Parks and Wildlife Service? What about Peter Boyd of Northern Rivers National Heritage? The Northern Rivers Regional Plan 2011 – Vision to 2020 ( published by Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers Board), our Regional Issues and Priorities APPEAR TO BE first of all Biodiversity followed by human issues (housing, transport, telecommunications, jobs, ageing, infrastructure etc) and including cross-border regional impacts.
The guiding principles from the above Regional Plan (page 12) were 'adopted from the Northern Rivers Regional Strategy work based on legislated sustainability principles from the NSW Local Government Amendment (Ecologically Sustainable Development Act 1997) that were signed off by key regional stakeholders (Northern Rivers regional Economic Development Organisation, NOROC, NSW Department of Urban affairs and Planning, NSW Premiers Department and North Coast Environment Council in 1998).'
So why isn’t Peter Boyd looking after our biodiversity? Everyone seems to be asleep at the wheel steering the biodiversity ship straight onto the reef of destruction. Why is biodiversity critically important to us? See http://bluecray.org/advocacy/community-health-and-tweed-coast-koala-populations-13.01.2012 Tree clearing is one of the most threatening processes to biodiversity.
According to Captain Paul Watson, this Earth is a spaceship hurtling through space. Humans are the passengers and biodiversity is the life support crew keeping the spaceship working. But the passengers are killing the crew thereby endangering all life on our planet in the future.
That dream I had has now become a living nightmare for some of our last remaining Tweed Coast koalas. The words of Joni Mitchell have a hollow echo to them:-
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
The 8th of November 2011 in New Caledonia marked the launching of a new program, called, "One tree, one day, One life" at the 7th Conference of the Pacific Community. Deforestation is the hallmark of colonisation in the South Pacific as everywhere. In small islands, deforestation can make the difference between an inhabitable and an uninhabitable island in terms of rainfall. A joint declaration to participate in a program where every island inhabitant in every participating island in the Pacific will plant a tree every year has already been signed by the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Tokelau, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia as of the last SPREP summit in Apia in July 2011.
(What do Australia and New Caledonia have in common? See end of article for the answers.)
The 8th of November 2011 in New Caledonia marked the launching of a new wider Pacific Island program, called, "One tree, one day, One life."
The idea is for each island inhabitant to plant one tree every year.
Anthony Lecren, New Caledonia government member for the economy, trade and sustainable development presided over the launch at the global warming and sustainable development summit at the 7th Conference of the Pacific Community in Noumea preparing for the RIO+20 Summit.
He urged Pacific island countries and territories to unite around a common project in order to make Oceania heard at the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. He was joined by Samoan Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, who said, "We will not be the last to react."
The Pacific islands are home to some 10 million people and constitute one-third of the world's maritime exclusive economic zone, with its natural riches and biodiversity still relatively intact compared to those of Europe. They represent an invaluable treasure for our planet. The ecology of these islands is, however, damaged and consequently fragile. Climate change is expected to add to their vulnerability.
Deforestation is the hallmark of colonisation in the South Pacific as everywhere. In small islands, deforestation can make the difference between an inhabitable and an uninhabitable island in terms of rainfall. An extreme case is Nauru. Once perhaps the richest and most beautiful of all islands in this area, it was mined into a desert for the its guano phospate reserves, which had been deposited over millenia by a rich population of migratory birds. As the forest disappeared, then the soil, tragically the rain stopped falling. Now the few locals that remain rely on water imported from Australia (itself the driest inhabited continent on earth), and the human population there, once tall and powerful in the region, is now exceptionately unhealthy.
New Caledonia has also been deeply scarred by mining, not for guano-phosphates, but for nickel. The scars are both ecological and social, for nickel-mining meant that there was always a well-paid temporary immigrant strata with power on the island, able to call political shots, running the principle employment sector and massively changing the shape of the land and its use to the great disadvantage of the indigenous inhabitants who were largely deprived of their self-sufficient economic choices.
"Wide-scale mining started in 1875 in Houaïlou and Canala communes. Early mining was done by hand and then gradually became mechanised. By beginning of the 20th century two large mines at Bourai and Thio were established. In the initial years, after nickel was discovered mining was done in about 330 mines. However in 1981 there were only 30 functional mines as against 130 in the early 1970s.  Because of the remote location of the islands, about half of the ore was smelted locally, despite the underdeveloped industrial infrastructure of New Caledonia.
The production of ore was nearly constant between 1875 and 1948, but then increased about 70 times reaching a peak of about 8 million tonnes in 1971. This rise followed by a decline, to about 4 million tonnes of ore in 1981, due to cyclones, reducing demand for the metal and increasing role of other world producers, such as Indonesia, Philippines and Australia. Correspondingly, the mined area decreased from 21,500–8,700 hectares (53,000–21,000 acres) and the number of people employed in the industry from about 6,200 to about 3,600. Nearly half of them worked at the mines and another half at the major Doniambo processing plant near Noumea." Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_mining_in_New_Caledonia
A joint declaration pertaining to the "one tree, one day, a life" initiative for the Pacific region will be signed by those countries wishing to participate in the program, which now includes the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, Tokelau, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia as of the last SPREP summit in Apia in July 2011.
The joint declaration comes from awareness both of the international responsibilities in ensuring the preservation of the insular biodiversity of the Pacific region in a context of climate change and of the difficulties facing each of the governments in making their voices heard at international level in matters of the environment and sustainable development.
The initiative aims to harmonize the sustainable development policies and actions of the countries, governments and territories of the Pacific in accordance with the institutional framework recommended by Rio+20 and to make it the environmental and sustainable development platform for the territories of the Pacific at the Rio+20 Summit.
South Pacific islands have suffered from very unbalanced economies since colonisation and this program seeks to contributing to a diversification of the economies of the South Pacific and, in particular, the development of the "green economy."
This article is the result of press communications resulting from the conference with the hope of producing "factual communication with an international reach."
The project unveiled by Anthony Lecren consists in planting one tree each year by New Caledonia's 250,000 inhabitants. That is equivalent to 250,000 trees planted per year over a period of at least 10 years. The program has also been designed to promote economic spin-offs, develop activity in rural areas and ensure livelihoods for those populations all the while contributing to restoring the "human-nature" link.
This project draws on the support of over 10 years of knowledge and experience in terms of existing research and development in New Caledonia and enables consolidation of a number of different projects by their size, geographic scope and economy.
Because New Caledonia suffered by mining, it also has long experience of the problem of reforestation and skilled scientific personnel, organisations and companies to carry this out. New Caledonia hopes to gain more visibility for these specialists in the wider Pacific community and to play an important role in their common reforestation project.
To find out more about biodiversity in New Caledonia, have a look at the biodiversity portal that brings together participants, scientists, institutions, programs and organisations in this project.
They are both beautiful Pacific Islands, although Australia is also identified as a continent.
They have both suffered major deforestation for mining and agriculture.
They both have a colonial history which dispossessed an indigenous community, although France has done a better job of providing housing and education for its citizens, including indigenous ones.
They have very similar climate and biodiversity regions.
They were both convict colonies.
Both suffer from the political impact of continued high immigration. In New Caledonia's case this is mainly restricted to French and European skilled or wealthy nationals, whereas in Australia it is part of a virtually unrestricted program to inflate local prices for resources and assets.
Source for announcements about the One Tree, One Day, One Life program launch was a Press release from Noumea, 8 November 2011, from Florence Dhie-Le Guénédal, Antipode Productions. Also: www.1tree1day1life.nc and www.biodiversity.nc
Proposed revisions to the Code of Practice for Forestry in Victoria Australia could adversely impact Victoria's threatened species. As many candobetter.net readers know, the Victorian Auditor General found last year that Victoria has utterly failed in its objectives under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1986) to measure and protect unique species from threat and endangerment. These changes also follow Environment East Gippsland's historic win in court against VicForests last year, where EEG sought protection under this Act for endangered species. With these changes, loggers could seek exemptions from state environment laws protecting endangered species. Victorians (and people all over the world) need to be aware of these proposed changes and to make comments. You can make a submission via this article
According to comments reported in the Age, 3 November 2011:
The Secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment would be able to exempt a logging project from the requirements of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, which protects the state's endangered and threatened species.
"The proposed changes follow a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court last year banning VicForests from logging old-growth forest at Brown Mountain in East Gippsland, after an endangered long-footed potoroo was filmed in an area to be felled."
"The secretary will consider, among other things, the numbers required to maintain a viable population of a listed species in the area to be logged, and the amount of habitat near the proposed coupe already protected in national parks."
''The objective of the variations is to achieve a better balance between the protection of threatened species and sustainable timber production from public native forests.'' Source: Tom Arup, "New state law in the pipeline to aid loggers."
The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2007 (the Code) is a key regulatory instrument that applies to commercial timber production in both public and private native forests and plantations in Victoria. It is a statutory document prepared under Part 5 of the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987. Compliance is required under the Sustainable Forest (Timber) Act 2004 and via its incorporation into the Victoria Planning Provisions.
The purpose of the Code is to ensure that commercial timber growing and timber harvesting operations are carried out on both public land and private land in such a way that:
Members of the public are invited to provide comment on a number of proposed variations to the Code of Practice for timber production to improve certainty of timber supply to the native forest timber industry, while balancing the needs of the environment.
Document explaining the proposed variations
The following document outlines the proposed variations to the Code of Practice for timber production.
If you have problems downloading this document, please contact the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for assistance.
The proposed variations change the wording in relation to the application of Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statements. This aims to introduce more flexibility and allow further consideration of the importance of Victoria’s national parks and conservation reserves in the protection of threatened species.
The variations will improve the focus of conservation for threatened flora and fauna species to be applied at landscape level, and allow for a reduced focus at the individual animal or plant level.
Factors needing to be considered by the Secretary to the Department of Sustainability and Environment in determining the application of a Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement are also being considered for inclusion in the Code.
Submission of comments
Anyone interested in making a submission on the proposed variations should provide their comments to DSE in writing by:
Review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production
Forests and Parks Division
Department of Sustainability and Environment
PO Box 500
East Melbourne, VIC, 3002
Closing date: submissions must be provided by Wednesday 1 February 2012. Submissions received after this time may not be able to be considered.
The department ensures that all timber harvesting operations are undertaken in compliance with relevant legislation and with the Code of Practice. Find out more about timber harvesting compliance.
The Code refers to various laws and policies that may be subject to change. Links to state policies and other information relevant to the Code are provided below.
The Honourable Ryan Smith MP, Minister for the Environment, has confirmed that he will upgrade the status of the Frankston Reservoir to a Nature Conservation Reserve. A delegation, including the Member for Frankston Geoff Shaw MP, met with the Minister in March to discuss the many issues surrounding the future of this significant bushland. The extraordinary quality of this remnant wilderness comes from the fact that there has been no public access for 90 years. Full protection of this reserve will protect the fauna and flora, and guard the “sanctuary” and “solitude” experience of this unique natural heritage for Frankston residents and all Victorians.
Designation as a Nature Conservation Reserve ensures that the protection and enhancement of the flora and fauna of Frankston Reservoir is the primary focus for the future management of this area. The change in classification to Nature Conservation Reserve will require an act of parliament to amend the Crown Land Reserves Act and it is anticipated that this will take place later this year.
The upgrade in the designation seizes this unique opportunity to fully protect the very last area of highly significant bayside vegetation and fauna that lies between Portsea and the city of Melbourne. Moreover, for a society increasingly beset by the nature deficit syndrome, it also offers an exceptional opportunity for people to connect directly with the landscape and fauna that is as the first settlers saw it.
The Frankston Reservoir site supports nationally, state and regionally significant flora and fauna species, plant communities and fauna habitats, including 6 ecological vegetation classes (EVC’s) of State significance. The most extensive of these EVC’s is the endangered Grassy Woodland, which is one of the most species rich ecosystems in the temperate world and is particularly rich in native grasses, orchids and lilies. 215 indigenous flora species are recorded at the 90 hectare site and over 100 fauna species including the nationally threatened Growling Grass Frog and state significant Musk Duck. Koalas, sugar gliders and echidnas also continue to enjoy the habitat of the Frankston Reservoir.
The extraordinary high quality of this remnant wilderness can be attributed to the fact that there has been no public access for 90 years while it was under the control of the water authorities. The full protection of this reserve will not only protect the fauna and flora, but it will also guard the “sanctuary” and “solitude” experience that this unique piece of our natural heritage can offer, not just Frankston residents, but all Victorians.
Approval to rezone the rural land opposite Serendip Sanctuary, Lara, near Geelong, sets a dangerous precedent for open slather development that places the wildlife protected there at risk and flies in the face of democracy. The Sanctuary is internationally recognised for successfully breeding captive species such as Brolga, Musk and Freckled Duck and now the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, which is on the brink of extinction. Serendip forms an important wildlife corridor between the You Yangs Regional Park and Brisbane National Park through agricultural land and the sprawl of Greater Melbourne as it spreads to meet the regional city of Geelong.
Why do Victorians and other Australians have to keep fighting over and over again to protect their rights from the very people who are supposed to be looking after their rights?
The new Liberal Government in Victoria needs to abandon Amendment C73 which was approved by City of Greater Geelong Councillors on 12 April 2011. Approval of C73 will allow rezoning of rural residential land to Residential 1. This retrograde step will literally pave the way for 380+ high density houses.
Residents have been opposing this application for 8 years!
What more do they need to do in a democracy?
Approval to rezone the rural land opposite Serendip Sanctuary crosses a line which should not be crossed and which the electorate does not want. To satisfy narrow ambitions to profit from unwanted development, wildlife at risk of extinction will be placed at greater risk.
Serendip Sanctuary is internationally recognised for successfully breeding captive species such as Brolga, Musk and Freckled Duck and now the Eastern Barred Bandicoot which is on the brink of Extinction. The 225 hectares that make it up were purchased and put aside by the Victoria State Government in 1959 for the purposes of wildlife research and the captive management and breeding of species threatened in Victoria. The sanctuary contains many different types of wetland and is home to many plant species as well, such as River Red Gums, tall spikerush, and tussock grass.
How can a supposedly expert and independent panel ignore the regional and international importance of this reserve?
Numerous nomadic wildlife, including Cape Barren geese, Magpie Geese and Eastern Grey kangaroos breed there and spill over on to the rural land surrounding the Sanctuary, which is only 2 km from You Yangs Regional Park. Serendip Sanctuary thus represents a very important wildlife corridor in an agricultural and small township area, which greater Melbourne is approaching in a pincer movement as it threatens to connect with the regional city of Geelong. The Serendip corridor ultimately leads, via the You Yangs Regional Park to the Brisbane Ranges National Park, which is a haven for koalas, which are daily losing their habitat to the unprecedented amount of development in Victoria and other states.
Serendip Sanctuary is just 45 minutes to the west of Melbourne but visitors will find that they are immediately amongst wild kangaroos and native birds, such as the animated honeyeaters and screeching cockatoos. The lake is the home of crowds of waterbirds. These waterbirds include the magnificent brolgas, celebrated in Aboriginal dance, now rarely seen by Australians.
These precious areas of nature on which our wildlife depend and which Australians and international tourists love will be inexcusably stressed if high density housing goes ahead opposite the Sanctuary, with the intensification of human activity and increase presence of cats, dogs and foxes which accompanies urbanization.
Over 3000 residents or 87% of Lara’s enrolled voters have gone on record with submissions or petition signatures which were presented to the Legislative Assembly in November 2009 opposing the C73 Caddys Road Amendment. This level of public opposition is unprecedented in City of Greater Geelong Council history. The voice of the people was ignored by the Brumby Government.
Serendip Sanctuary and its environmental significance to Geelong and Victoria has been overlooked.
An Independent Panel undervalued the vast majority of serious environmental, safety and community issues that will result from C73 being approved.
As well as the blight on the environment that more development will cause, Lara also lacks infrastructure for additional population. Its schools are already overcrowded and there is a well documented history of fire and flood risk.
Much more careful planning with an emphasis on pulling back, less (development) is more, and quality living over quantity, is required for us all by Local and State Government. To the west of Lara there is already a huge area zoned for future development in Lara. There is thus no reasonable excuse to allow this new development to go ahead opposite the sanctuary.
Australians have a right to demand protection for their natural assets and to ensure peaceful co-existence with our wildlife.
Please help to protect Serendip Sanctuary and to protect Lara from inappropriate development by writing to the new Minister for Planning, Mathew Guy, and asking him to abandon the C37 Amendment which is the administrative culprit in the approaching man-made disaster.
Minister for Planning
State Parliament of Victoria
1 Spring Street
I was moved to investigate further when on April 5th candobetter.net received an anonymous comment, entitled, "Koala left clinging to a tree after land clearing." A link to a photograph of a koala clinging to a tree in a recently cleared paddock showed that someone had actually managed to get photo-evidence of the sickening process of koala extinction - for unwanted development - which goes on under our noses with the blessing of the Queensland Government.
The photographed koala is just one of the many disappearing (starved, run over, mauled, exposed) koalas on the Queensland Goldcoast, where greedy developments are, ironically, absurdly, destroying the beauty and space they advertise in their brochures. There are no effective laws to stop them in Australia. What is more, the State government in Queensland and the state governments in all the other states of Australia operate like land-companies, making laws to privilege development and ensuring that environmental laws have absolutely no teeth. The justification for such developments is to accommodate population growth, but it is the development lobby that causes the population growth to be politically engineered simply to keep up demand for housing, and to provide an excuse for the intolerable rate of ecological destruction.
As Vivienne Ortega wrote in her admirable article, "Koalas on the edge of survival precipice" on the subject of koala extinction, "There is no way koalas can evolve and adapt fast enough to overcome roads, logging, land clearing, invasive species and pets. The only way koalas could “win” is if they had machine guns to protect them!"
The entity directly backing the development destined for the koala habitat in question is the "Perron Group", which describes itself as "a privately-owned Perth-based Group of Companies owned and controlled by the Chairman, Mr Lloyd Stanley Perron AM." [AM stands for 'Member of the Order of Australia'. Wikipedia describes the Order of Australia as 'an order of chivalry established by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia on 14 February 1975 "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"'.]
The Perron group, by its own account, has invested more than $30m in the project which is responsible for the destruction of koalas' homes in an area where the species is severely threatened in a world already over-run with people and suburbs.
The group describes its project as "a world class example of a sustainable master planned community for future generations of Australians."
The intention is to build 3,500 houses on this precious native habitat with a long history of being protected and of continuing community support for its protection.
Let us pause for a moment and consider what the notion of a 'master-planned' 'community' must mean to the citizens in the area who may have believed they had self-government, where members of the elected council, such as Councillor Ted Shepherd, have been trying to fight for their rights and for koala and other species habitat since this development application was first proposed. Ironically millionaire Bob Anthes, in a land where money almost always means destruction of wildlife and democracy, had kept this land safe for nature up to his death in 2004. Then, according to Melinda Marshall's article,
Mr Alston was quoted on 14 December excusing his actions by saying, "You have to have a balance of natural and human habitat," he said.
What sort of 'balance' is extinction? As Vivienne Ortega writes in "Koalas on the edge of the survival precipice,"...., "The only way koalas could “win” is if they had machine guns to protect them!"
If you want to stand up for the koalas, you can leave comments here for the Perron Group re its "Pacific View Estate." There are a few already, to the effect that just because it's 'legal' that doesn't make it alright. And there is a sad little argument to the effect of, "We cut the trees down for rural management, but we agree with you that farming isn't a good idea so close to urban development, that's why we are putting more houses there." (!)
The Perron Group consists of many 'players'. CRA, DPZ Pacific, Urban Planning Services, Ocean Park Consulting, James Warren & Associates, LVO Architecture, John Wood Consultancy Services, Bitzios Consulting, Cardno, Steensen Varming and Acoustic Logic Consultancy. On the Pacific View Estate site it says, "Pacific View Estate, a new relationship between natural and human habitats."
This description would also suit TEPCO's business in providing electricity to Japan.
CRA claims (on the Pacific View Estate site) to 'work closely' with Mission Australia.
Mission Australia describes itself as having a "founding purpose inspired by Jesus Christ," and that, " Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'. Furthermore it claims that its "vision" is "to see a fairer Australia by enabling people in need to find pathways to a better life'".
Well, maybe with 'visions' you don't need to look at reality.
Does Mission Australia really think that Jesus would endorse the desecration of the natural world, the extinction of species, the razing of forests, and the abrogation of community self-government through commercially "master-planned" communities dominated by transnational corporations?
Talk about building temples for money-changers! I won't be making a donation to Mission Australia if this is what it supports.
DPZ Pacific says that its "mission" is "to design and build communities in harmony with the environment in the world’s most dynamic regions for growth." It's a bizarre mix of words, isn't it? I guess you could take it to mean that DPZ Pacific considers this region not for its biodiversity, but for its population growth trends. Thus, to be in harmony with marketed demographic projections, there is nothing wrong with paving over the trees, starving out the koalas and stuffing up local self-government. What is this? Leggoworld? Are the people and their elected representatives just some kind of transformer toys there to animate a sandpit?
DPZ Pacific: "DBIDBI Design," not exactly what you would want for a natural environment, this architectural firm, going by the photos on its website.
Urban Planning Services - UPS ... More planners.
Ocean Park Consulting: "Ocean Park Consulting Pty Limited is a Gold Coast based company that provides to government agencies and private enterprise organisations delivery management, approvals engineering, environmental planning and integrated infrastructure planning services.
Ocean Park Consulting's extensive professional experience in major land development and infrastructure projects facilitates early recognition of potential project constraints and opportunities and allows for development of effective management strategies to ensure positive project outcomes, to strive to achieve a balance between the needs of the natural environment and the human environment. "
That word, "balance" again, in such an unbalanced project of machines against nature.
James Warren & Associates is described on the site as "a specialist environmental consulting company which has been operating since 1987." It is claimed that "JWA have completed a detailed assessment of the Ecological Values of the Pacific View Estate site" and that the company has "identified the potential impacts of the proposed development on these values and have recommended various mitigation measures" and that "in consultation with the team of experts, JWA have assisted to design a concept plan that provides for the conservation of the ecologically significant values occurring on site."
Wonder what they had to say about the koalas and chopping down all the trees? Speak up, James Warren and Associates! Are you pleased or did they ignore what you recommended?
(Then again, how can anyone in this group speak up? Their livings depend on this process continuing. So someone else has to stop it.)
LVO’ Architecture ... More builders...
John Wood Consultancy Services was established in December 2000, as the Principal Recreation and Environmental Planner with EDAW (Australia) Pty Ltd. On JWC's site there is a notice which states that the operator is "a current member of the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation" and explains that all such members "have agreed to abide by QORF's Code of Ethics." If you go to the site that lists those ethics, which are quite admirable. It is therefore surprising to see that one of their members should be associated with a project which is now linked to destruction of koala habitat and the razing of trees on a property once known for its conservation values, now transformed into a corporate vs community battleground.
Bitzios Consulting is an Australian traffic engineering and transport planning consultancy that operates on an international scale.
Cardno: Grogan Richards Consulting Engineers has merged with transnationals Cardno, an "infrastructure services firm" which, like others on the Pacific View Estate, professes to be creating "better communities across the globe". Its "client base includes builders, developers, shopping centre owners and managers, local government, government departments, architects, manufacturers, retailers, town planners and the legal profession."
Steensen Varming - construction, engineering, incorporating "environmentally responsible features."
Acoustic Logic Consultancy - more engineering and construction of a specialised nature. "With the implementation of this wealth of knowledge and experience, ALC and the Pacific View Farm have endeavoured to ensure that this project will not have detrimental acoustic impact on the future and existing residents of Worongary."
With such a corporate army of spin-doctors and built-environmentalists what hope do koalas or democracy have? In fact the koala might well stand for local democracy because both democracy and koalas are doomed in this commercial transnational environment, with its practitioners determined to ram their steel constructions down the locals' throats with the saccharine-sugar coating of a few promised 'jobs' which may well go to imported labour.
Oh what evil in Australia is done in the name of "jobs", where once there was land and food to spare and the possibility of a just society.
The Gold Coast Council administers a once-magnificent part of Australia and oversees a great deal of callous destruction and environmental degradation in the name of continuous population growth - which most people explicitly reject in polls.
The growth is driven by investors who only see the returns on their balance-sheets and apparently lack the wit to examine the greater costs - to social capital and local, national and global biodiversity. This tragic process which currently entraps Australia was magnified to greater heights than ever before in the mid-1990s, as the global internet took off and as the last feeble obstacles to foreign purchase and investment of Australian real-estate were removed. Policies were put in place to turbo charge the financial turnover on an international scale, leading to the so-called global financial crisis. But we are dealing with addicts here, so the crisis machine was cranked up again with public money.
The homes will be bought by outsiders mostly, with no knowledge, loyalty or emotional investment in the community - rather like the developers, one suspects.
 I recently talked with a lawyer who had just graduated from a post-grad course in Environmental Law. I asked her if there was anything in it. "Nothing," she said. "Absolutely nothing. It's completely shocking!" She added, "I took the course to see if my first impression was really true, that the environmental laws in Australia didn't work. And it was true! We have no environmental law!"
Melinda Marshall, "Council bushwacked," March 22nd, 2010.