Spotted on my morning walk, a fine fat fellow looking very relaxed in a tree right next to our driveway. I don’t think it is a tree we planted but the one right next to it is.
Our daughter was given some tickets to Currumbin Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago, so we took six month old grandson Teo for a day out. And it was a very pleasant day. But it was more interesting, and eye opening, for me to see people reacting. Sometimes I need to be reminded how privileged I am.
It is easy to imagine if you live in a city that wildlife is happily safely securely flourishing “somewhere else”. You hear about extinctions but maybe you don’t get just how profound it is. Good solid science, not greenie hyperbole, says we are now entering this planet’s sixth mass extinction, the biggest loss of diversity since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. In earlier mass extinctions, something up towards 90% of the world’s species went extinct. Huge numbers.
Eventually of course life finds a way – or at least it always has up till now. Evolution starts with the species left and diversifies, because in diversity there is resilience. But in the meantime life is pretty skinny. And the “meantime” is longer than my poor little human brain likes to contemplate. I can only really care, personally as opposed to philosophically, as far as maybe my great great grandkids. But I’d really really like them to see a koala happily munching gum leaves. I’d really really like them to have the magnificent experience of sitting at the headland at Point Lookout watching whales breaching as they migrate north to give birth. I’d like them to catch guppies in a creek and marvel at water skaters and spider webs. I’d love them to know there are tigers and lions and gorillas even if we never see one. It wrenches my heart to imagine a world where “once upon a time, there used to be big pure white bears that could catch fish to eat in the frozen icelands of the north pole”.
Greenies get bad press for creating a fuss and blocking “development” about saving “some frog somewhere”, as if this is a ludicrous and extreme concern. But we are looking square down the barrel at losing 90% of the world’s species. Each one of them food for or a predator for another one, the loss of one setting off chains of reactions that spread like one of those massive domino art pieces. And somewhere in that array of dominoes is the human species feeling all chuffed and superior and forgetting that loaves and fishes are plants and animals and part of that 90%, just like us.
Protectors at Maules Creek in north western NSW have just managed a huge effort over the long weekend, camping out in the cold, walking long distances through the night to get around road blocks designed to stop them, nearly 100 arrested, to hold off forest clearing contrary to its conditions of approval (ie illegal) by Whitehaven Coal till an injunction could be obtained from a court. Leard Forest has nationally-listed and critically endangered tree species, home to nearly 400 species of plants and animals including threatened and endangered species. That’s the choice – more coal, or one less domino down.
And then, last week at the Australian Local Government National General Assembly, Griffith Council moved that ALGA write to the State and Federal Government requesting it to intervene and determine that exploration and mining of CSG in agriculturally productive land not be permitted. Motion: Lost. Moyne Shire Council sought the support of the National General Assembly in opposing the exploration for and extraction of Coal seam, tight and shale Oil gases in Australia. Motion: Lost. Gunnedah Council has moved a motion asking the Federal Government to retain the primary responsibility for the approval of resource projects, coal seam gas in particular and provide regulation which best preserves and protects our natural resources. Motion: lost. Rural councils that see the extent of the devastation of both natural environments and farming lands are being outvoted by city councils that see only places like Currumbin.
And the saddest thing is, there is no need for this mass extinction. It’s not a massive comet or a huge volcanic eruption blocking out the sun. It’s just being a bit too slow to react to the very real threat. It’s being suckered by a handful of beads for the world.