Politics Opinion

A Coalition election victory will burn Australia to the ground

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The Morrison Government will continue its agenda of biodiversity loss if elected for another three years (Image by Dan Jensen)

Almost complete silence in the current election campaign on biodiversity loss raises very serious questions.

Climate change is a major priority for voters but biodiversity loss is rarely mentioned.

At the 2021 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, this statement summed up the critical importance of linking the two threats:

‘We are facing the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. One cannot be solved without addressing the other.’

The European Commission nailed it in an article headlined ‘Climate change and biodiversity loss should be tackled together’:

‘Today, around one million species of an estimated 8 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. The global rate of species extinction is already tens to hundreds of times higher than the average rate over the past 10 million years and is accelerating.’

A major scientific paper described the current situation as ‘biological annihilation’ to highlight the magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.

According to the World Health Organisation:

‘Biodiversity loss can have significant direct human health impacts if ecosystem services are no longer adequate to meet social needs. Indirectly, changes in ecosystem services affect livelihood, income, local migration and may even cause or exacerbate political conflict.’

As a frightening example of the reality and the critical importance of linking climate change with biodiversity loss, the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicated ‘the Arctic is likely to be practically ice-free in September at least once before 2050 in all scenarios assessed’.

Already the evidence of a warming Arctic is highly visible. California grey whales which migrate annually from the icy Siberian waters to Mexican lagunas are dying of starvation in significant numbers. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries have declared the mortality an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).

The most obvious reason for the depressing sight of over 500 emaciated, dying whales is the loss of prey. Grey whales, together with many species which share the same marine ecosystem, are dependent on the detritus which falls from the ice-covered sea to the ocean floor, providing food for plankton and trophic layers. 

With no ice, there’s nothing to feed the marine ecosystem, resulting in catastrophic losses. The loss of grey whales is a further indication of the undeniable evidence of each species’ role in the ecosystem. As bottom feeders, they create huge mud plumes that re-suspend large volumes of nutrients bringing bottom-dwelling crustaceans to the surface for seabirds to feed on.

Australia has been identified as one country likely to be severely impacted by the twin climate evils.

Queensland based Bloom Impact Investing described Australia as ‘about to get barbecued and soaked’. Its regional assessment report demonstrates massive changes in ecosystems all over the country.

Yet no political party, major or minor, wants to address the appalling recent history of climate and biodiversity disasters.  

During the extreme drought that began in 2017, described as the worst drought in 116 years, Professor Richard Kingsford from the University of New South Wales warned that large numbers of kangaroos were dying all over the country. Reports from wildlife carers detailed abandoned joeys, wallabies blinded by the sun and koalas struggling to find eucalyptus leaves. Our wildlife is starving to death.

Vast swathes of the continent’s interior were brown, dying from lack of water.

Three billion animals were killed or displaced in the Black Summer bushfires. More than 100 entire populations of plant species were burnt, according to a CSIRO-led study.

Over half of nationally listed threatened ecological communities were affected.

The most recent State of the Environment report dated 2016 painted a dismal picture of biodiversity loss with no indication that major pressures on biodiversity have decreased. 

A new report was due in early 2022, no doubt it will not be available until after the Election, just like the latest independent report on the extent of coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

The forestry industries in NSW and Victoria have failed to undertake comprehensive surveys of any recovery of forest species impacted by the Black Summer fires. Logging continues unabated in spite of experts warning that some species may take up to 120 years to recover.

No climate refuges for wildlife have been designated. State and federal legislation is incapable of providing adequate protection to Australia’s rapidly disappearing biodiversity.

Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate of any country in the world.

Professor Hugh Possingham, a globally recognised ecologist, says Australia’s populations of threatened species are declining at the rate of 1 per cent a year

There’s no estimate of the loss of native animals in the recent major floods.   

Not only is biodiversity loss a non-issue in the Federal Election but any discussion or scientific evidence of the important role each species plays in ecosystem health is politically irrelevant.

One could be forgiven for thinking Australians are deliberately quarantined from any information on biodiversity loss impacts. Instead, the focus is on koalas, or single wildlife species with no attempt to educate the public on the role every animal, insect or reptile plays in the health of the ecosystem. Interconnection is the foundation of functioning ecosystems.

With zero attention by any major or minor political party on the looming disaster which accompanies climate change, questions need to be asked by the mainstream media and answered in an acceptable manner.

Why is biodiversity loss such a non-event in the political playbook?  Why is trying for “gotcha’ moments more important?

No one asks, “If the temperature keeps rising, making living conditions uninhabitable, what happens to the non-living creatures? Will their homes, food, shelter, nutrients and water be similarly affected?  What will this mean for humans?”

Such blatant rejection of the ongoing destruction of the life support systems of planet Earth can only be described as a symptom of collective madness, now rampant in Australia’s Federal Election. In failing to educate the public on the reality of this imminent environmental nightmare, voters are increasingly dumbed down.

Aside from the political ramifications, humanity has a spiritual and moral responsibility to protect the foundations of life.  Political leaders and parties who ignore this injunction are leaving future generations to an unforgivable fate.

As British climate specialist Professor Tim Palmer at the University of Oxford says:

“If we do not halt our emissions, our future climate could well become some kind of hell on Earth.”

Not only for humanity.

Sue Arnold is an IA columnist and freelance investigative journalist. You can follow Sue on Twitter @koalacrisis.

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