When I first arrived in Australia in November I was gradually surprised with the realization that Australia was in many ways much like America. When I decided to start traveling I didn't expect the first country I visit to be the younger and fresher doppelganger of my own country. It is of course not true in all respects mainly unfortunately its the negative ones that are most similar. I will over the course of time attempt to publish posts on each of the topics individually in an ongoing thought process.
Australia's steadily declining Environmental Policies
For the first topic I think it should be noted that a major part of all of this is due to the more and more deplorable sounding Tony Abbott. An Englishman by birth and Aussie by early relocation he was elected in office September 2013 as the liberal party candidate; take note that the liberal party it is essentially the conservative party of Aus the main opposition is the Labor Party. I rarely find Aussies with nice things to say about their 28th Prime Minister and the more I come to understand his policies the more I realize why.
The endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef
If one of your dreams in life is to visit the Great Barrier Reef, hopefully you wont need to book your ticket soon. This development has occurred since I've been in country and it seems unbelievable that anyone could so knowingly endanger such a delicate and important part of the oceans ecosystem. I refer to the recent approval of a mega port for the shipment of coal passing within the Great Barrier Reef. Such a decision cannot rationally in anyway be safe for the ecosystem or more fiscally beneficial than the protection of the worlds largest reefs. Over the past 27 years about 50% of the coral has been lost to environmental factors so with the fragility of the environment in mind would a shipping port really be such a great idea? Permits for dredging have already been issued to start the process, 3 million cubic meters of sea bed will be on its way to muddy the crystal clear reefs in due time. Luckily the Australians are a proud people and have taken a stand against this stupidity, steps have been taken to stop the destruction but like all environment vs. big business fights it will not be easy. If the Liberal government has no respect for one of the natural wonders of the world what do they respect?
Not Tasmania's forests, that's for sure.
Tasmania has been told to me by a very former resident to have some of the cleanest air in the world amazing hiking and an absolutely breathtaking landscape. It is also home to the Tasmanian Wilderness a World Heritage Area circa 1982.
According to The Australian Government to be found on http://www.environment.gov.au/node/19816,
"The Tasmanian Wilderness is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere. The region is home to some of the deepest and longest caves in Australia. It is renowned for its diversity of flora, and some of the longest lived trees and tallest flowering plants in the world grow in the area. The Tasmanian Wilderness is a stronghold for several animals that are either extinct or threatened on mainland Australia."
Couldn't have written it any better, sounds important right? Well not to the liberal elected Will Hodgman and friend of Australia Tony Abbott. They aim to cut the extension of the heritage site set in 2013 from 120,000 hectares to 74,000 hectares. Now, it is a World Heritage Site which leaves them to certain international standards such as not fucking with it. However the most misguided policies are too often the most pursued and concerns of a struggling timber business have been presented to the World Heritage Committee for their consideration. I don't pretend to be educated on the lumber industry of Tasmania and find very biased reports on the matter but considering The Tasmanian Forest Agreement was established in 2011 with the considerations of all parties involved and still apparently has the continued support of the Tasmanian Lumber Industry, who exactly is benefiting from this? As an environmentalist at heart I tend to take the side of the trees after all the worlds oldest trees don't get that way by being cut down without any regard for conservation. A report is due out from the committee in the near future, only time will tell.
Certainly that has to be it right?
Nope. Shark Cull.
"According to the Australian Shark Attack File, kept by researchers at Sydney's Taronga Conservation Society, there have been 892 shark attacks in Australia since records began in 1791,and 217 of which have been fatal." - Australian Geographic
Its no secret shark attacks although terrifying are not common so why this past year did the Western Australian government feel the need to call for a shark cull? Because they can pretty much, shark culls are unnecessary and like the Hawaiian cull of the 70's accomplish nothing but to further destroy bits of our oceans ecosystem for human pride. The protest against the cull was widespread, some conservationists even went so far as to release a shark close to death and swim with it until it regained enough strength to survive, full story here Activists save tiger shark from cull. The fact of the matter is the ocean is an unpredictable force, from the creatures some much more dangerous than sharks to the riptides that can as so horrifyingly named rip you out to sea with no warning. We are not in control of that environment if any at all and its something we all know and need to respect. If you don't like it and aren't willing to take the risks of swimming with the inhabitants of the water, there are plenty of pools around for your enjoyment stay out of lakes though could be gators. This to me and much of the country is common sense.
Abbott doesn't believe in Global Warming, he cares nothing for the reefs of the oceans he claims to love and he openly battles the status of a World Heritage Site. He is a disaster and disgrace to his country and as an outsider I embrace the growing voice of the people of Australia.
"FUCK TONY ABBOTT"
I will be making a trip to the Great Barrier Reef as soon as I have the travel money to move on from Au-pairing, pics will be taken and I will more personally look into whats happening. Tasmania hiking trip has been on my list as well and I will likewise look into what I can in the hopes of writing a more personally researched paper, looking up figures on the computer is never as good as getting out there.