Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Today by Amy McQuire

Still a sorry state
The Australia State of the Environment 2016 report shows that despite some improvement the environment is still suffering


The Australia State of the Environment 2016 report was tabled in federal parliament today, and, as you would expect, it makes for grim reading.

Commissioned by the federal government and written by independent experts, the report has been delivered every five years since 1996, and this is the first time that it has been presented in a digital, interactive format. It states that since 2011 we have seen some improvement in managing marine environments and the Murray–Darling Basin, but this optimism is overshadowed by the serious challenges that lie ahead. The impact of climate change will wreak havoc on our environment.

Climate change is now irreversible. Certain areas are particularly vulnerable, and socially and economically disadvantaged populations will bear most of the brunt. These people are not only those living in regional and remote areas, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They stand to lose their land once again and are currently one of the only groups standing strong against the Turnbull government’s attempts to clear the way for a large coalmine on the traditional land of Aboriginal people. 

William Jackson, an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast, has written an overview of the report, stating that pressures have increased on the environment from “coal mining and the coal-seam gas industry, habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species, litter in our coastal and marine environments, and greater traffic volumes in our capital cities”.

While the report finds improvement in the Antarctic, news is not so great for the Arctic. Estimates suggest that Arctic sea ice could vanish in summertime this century even if global warming targets set by almost 200 nations are reached.

The minister for the environment and energy, Josh Frydenberg, tried to pre-empt the report in a column for the Guardian. He claimed the Coalition will “use this report to continue the good work” the government is doing in environmental policy, citing the 10-year Murray–Darling Basin plan.

One of the scariest elements of the report is that the government has no national plan to protect the environment in the years to 2050.

Today’s links

  • To combat climate change, it’s crucial that science is communicated effectively to the public, writes Rose Hendricks in The Conversation.
  • In a big shake-up for the national broadcaster, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie announces that 200 management positions will be axed to help pay for 80 regional positions within 18 months.
  • In the lead-up to International Women’s Day tomorrow, Crikey writer Helen Razer meets Jessa Crispin, author of the new book Why I Am Not a Feminist.
  • The New Yorker asks how long will Americans play along with President Donald Trump as he announces a new travel ban.
  • Republicans have finally announced their plans to repeal Obamacare – the US’s most significant healthcare reform in 50 years.
  • Finally, a fascinating Q&A discussion about rape and issues of consent.

Amy McQuire

Amy McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman and journalist.


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