Posting in Education
MELBOURNE -- Is the Australian mining boom causing the Great Barrier Reef to suffer? U.N. conservation experts investigate the scene.
MELBOURNE -- Is the Australian mining industry destroying one the world’s most treasured ecosystems? When it comes to the future of the Great Barrier Reef, it boils down to economic growth versus environmental impact.
Conservation experts from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) arrived in Australia today to assess the impact of recent port expansion along the Great Barrier Reef in central and northern Queensland.
The UNESCO investigation follows a report, prepared by John Tanzer, ex-CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), which claimed that a coal and gas boom are threatening the Reef's heritage title.
The Australian Government confirmed that currently the ports are operating at just over 150 million tonnes annually, and have estimated that by the end of the decade, their capacity will be close to a billion [Source: ABC’s 7.30 Report].
A report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggests that Western Australia and Queensland are becoming increasingly reliant on the mining industry for business investment and economic activity.
According to a Brisbane Times source, exports from liquid natural gas in the Gladstone port alone are valued at (AUS)$70 billion.
The UNESCO review comes after a series of incidents threatening the health of the Reef. Last April, a Chinese ship leaked oil east of Great Keppel Island, and only late last year, mining companies came under attack for dredging.
The Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has committed to ensuring the reef is protected, but determining an appropriate course of action will be a major challenge.
With input from UNESCO, the Australian and Queensland governments will work together to undertake a strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef and the adjacent coastal zone.
Although it is too early to say, it is likely that the UNESCO environmental investigation will call for tighter environmental controls on port activity.
Meanwhile, concerned citizens are taking action by signing a petition calling for UNESCO and the Australian Government to save one of the natural wonders of the world.
Mar 6, 2012
I have a new term, 'low embodied experience based economy' or LEEBE for short. How many dollars does a snorkeler (experience seeker) contribute to the Australian economy? well, actually a lot, but not in the way we would first think. How many of these dollars are generated from energy (transport), material goods (equipment) and memories (experience)? A typical holiday maker, arrives by jet fueled plane, drives a petrol powered camper van, gets on a diesel powered boat, hires a oil derived scuba suit and equipment to experience the wonders of nature, then repeats steps 1-4 and heads home. All the dollars spent contribute to GDP which is the holy grail of a countries measure of prosperity. Guess which industries have the upper hand in the current system, alternatively we would need to move to a resource based economy which places the environment number one. And...if we are elevating ourselves from the material based economy into an experience based economy, then how does someone experience The Great Barrier Reef and contribute to its survival without requiring huge amounts of energy to enjoy and celebrate it? another point A world power with fading energy resources will inevitably try to cripple those with plenty and do anything to secure new resources... Oil reached a tipping point in 2007 in Australia, it reached a tipping point in 1970s in the US, the next valuable resource is shale gas located in all the key wilderness sites, it will always trump the environment if we continue to evaluate prosperity using GDP and spend our dollars for the experience.
The problem with sustainable development is that it means continuing to destroy the environment, but at a slower and less noticeable pace -- you know, depending on the "new normal" which accepts something that was unacceptable not long before but is now acceptable because it has already been done and, in the case of mining, is perceived as having advanced the economy and jobs. So, as long as the damage doesn't occur suddenly, as in a super tanker spill, damage a little at a time is acceptable and thus becomes the new normal, sort of like a dollar that could by a lot a decade or two earlier buys only 65% today, but is still a dollar -- a new normal dollar. And when the dollar only buys 30% a decade from now, it will still be a totally acceptable new normal dollar: a steady decline but normal, just as ongoing environment destruction (barrier reef) is okay because it is normal. Sad, very sad.