When debating weighty matters of state, our political elite rate environmental matters way behind national security, economic growth and getting re-elected. Meanwhile, the business community views biodiversity as a resource to be plundered to the extent that laws allow, or beyond if they feel they can get away with it.
Most of the remainder, it seems, have little understanding of nature and biodiversity, focusing instead on mortgages, energy costs, and the pressures of just surviving in this man-made “rat race”.
It isn't as though the importance of biodiversity isn't known. It's simply that those natural values come a distant last, behind social and economic considerations.
The critical importance of biodiversity is summed up well in the national biodiversity plan, “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, 2010–2030”, which states: “Conserving biodiversity is an essential part of safeguarding the biological life support systems on Earth. All living creatures, including humans, depend on these life support systems for the necessities of life”.
One would think that statement alone would grab the attention of policy makers, but it seems it hasn't. If, on the other hand, policy makers have received and understood that message, their subsequent actions allowing, and in some instances encouraging the ongoing destruction of biodiversity, can only be described as criminally negligent.
That federal biodiversity strategy accurately sums up the current situation, with “biodiversity continues to decline”. We are now halfway through the period during which that strategy was supposed to turn things around.
So how are we doing?
Not too well. An accelerating number of listed threatened species, a Murray – Darling River system reduced to a series of toxic puddles, courtesy of taxpayer funded water theft, increased CO2 emissions, and a world heritage reef dying before our eyes.
We have a government whose leader brings a lump of coal into parliament telling the world that we've nothing to fear from it, and both major political parties espousing an increase in mining and burning of coal. All this despite acknowledging the scientific evidence that the subsequent emissions will lead to catastrophic global heating. This is insanity!
- John Edwards
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on October 28, 2019