Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tim Flannery argues that the prospect of a sustainablke future for Australia requires a population policy: "Despite its relative stability, this ancient Australia was no paradise. Its soils were by far the poorest and most fragile of any continent, its rainfall the most variable, and its rivers the most ephemeral. It was a harsh land for any creature that demanded much from it, and as a result, energy efficiency is the hallmark of Australia’s plants, animals and human cultures.

"Our European heritage left us appallingly equipped to survive, long-term, in this country. For a start it left many colonial Australians unable to see the subtle beauty and biological richness of the land, and what they could not understand they strove to destroy as alien and useless. For most of the past two centuries we have believed that we could remake the continent in the image of Europe – turn the rivers inland and force the truculent soils to yield. We even knowingly introduced pests – from starlings to foxes and rabbits – in our efforts to transform this vast Austral realm into a second England. Much of this terrible history reads as a rush towards ‘development’, which was then – and often still is – just a soft word for the destruction of Australia’s resource base.

"That arrogant colonial vision left a fearful legacy, for it actually made people feel virtuous while they dealt the land the most terrible blows. Already one of every 10 of Australia’s unique mammals is extinct, and almost everywhere – even in our national parks – biodiversity is declining. Australia’s soils are still being mined – salination will destroy the majority of Western Australia’s wheat belt in our lifetime if nothing is done – while our rivers are in great peril and sustainable fisheries everywhere have collapsed. It is the bitter harvest of all of this that we are reaping so abundantly today."

No comments: