Thursday, 2 March 2017


Earth Charter, Principle 2:  “Care for the Community of Life with understanding, compassion and love.”

Early January 2017 was for many people a joyous holiday period with family reunions and New Year resolutions but for all of us it was a time of temperatures of 40 degrees or more.  Most of NSW experienced an oppressive heat wave and the people of the Clarence Valley sweltered. 

Even night temperatures became difficult to bear and people needed to be careful to avoid dehydration.   

Some newspaper reports suggested the heat wave posed a threat to human health, especially to older people and the very young.

But in the midst of our discomfort did we consider the impact that the heatwave was having on our biodiversity?

This photograph taken mid-afternoon on January 14 shows a female king parrot suffering from the extreme temperature. She sought some relief in a shady porch behind our house.  Even here the temperature was close to 40 degrees celsius.

Her beak is repeatedly opening and closing and her wings are drooping.  We are careful not to disturb her and she stays in this position for at least two hours.

At the front of the house two more king parrots are perched in similar shady positions, again with beak and wings conveying distress.

Do such images have an important communique for our human community?

If we fail to limit our greenhouse gases urgently, if we go ahead with the massive Adani coal project, if the Donald Trump presidency ignores climate change, if …… the list goes on.

Will this image of the king parrot suffering from heat wave conditions become a symbol for all life on our planet?

Big questions are looming and the future of our Earth Community – our biodiversity and our grandchildren – will be greatly influenced by our answers.

            - Stan Mussared

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on February 6, 2017.