November 2014

The “Stand Up For Nature’ Conference


I attended a meeting today, held to inspire people to stand up to our current Federal government that is retreating from environmental issues such as climate change and the protection of forests and marine environments, in favour of business interests.


Speakers included Lyndon Schneiders, director of the Wilderness Society, Dr Sylvia Earle, world renowned scientist and oceanographer, Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Christine Milne, leader of the Greens.


All speakers followed the same theme: The Abbott government is tearing down environmental protection at an alarming rate, weakening already weak national environmental laws, and pushing for forests and farmlands to be turned into gas fields and coal mines, marine sanctuaries to be eroded and climate change to be ignored even though scientists have proven our planet has limited capacity to absorb the waste of our industry.

The speakers mentioned the continuing battle for renewable energy, and how it is an embarrassment that the government has pushed for coal and gas when all other first world countries are looking toward renewable alternatives. It was mentioned that the government is also pushing for a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that allows multi-national corporations to sue any government if their licenses to log or mine are taken away.


Sylvia Earle, barely able to look over the lectern, made up for her smallness in frame by voicing powerful messages. She spoke of enormous changes to the Great Barrier Reef since she first visited there in 1975, and spoke of ‘smart animals’, some the same old age as her, as noticing change, but they ‘cannot know what we know, only feel that things are not right.’ She revealed shark numbers have declined by 90% and tuna, even more so.

“We are good at killing, but we have to be better at caring.”

She spoke of humans having the knowledge to change things, but our changes usually only occur to suit us. She reminded the audience that “our lives depend on a natural world that works in our favour,” and instead of “changing the nature of nature,” we should be inspired to put a halt on destruction, before it is too late.


Mark Butler, spoke of similar concerns and mentioned the Whitlam government in the 1970’s as instigating the first environmental protection of the Great Barrier Reef, monumental in its day, yet the current government is tearing it down with new management plans and Labor has ‘no idea what they are.’ He spoke of Australia as once being the fourth most attractive place in the world to invest in renewable energy, yet now global companies with this interest, are withdrawing under Abbott’s favouring of coal and gas.


Our Senator representing the Greens, Christine Milne, also spoke of the definite road to extinction for a rare possum in Victoria, due to climate change. It cannot live in temperatures above 27%, and numbers are dwindling. She spoke of renewable energy as a goal we must plan for, setting targets ‘not just an emissions trading scheme, and that we should not allow the government to sign on for the TPP agreement.’

She urged finally, “it will all be in vain unless we tackle global warming.”



Harriet Jones