Real Dirt, Fast – 28 August

August 28th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Real Dirt Fast


This  Week’s Environmental News in Three Minutes…. 

This is an era that calls for tough talk and Real Dirt wishes there were more tough talkers around, which is a pity that a little Australian with a name befitting a wharfie pub brawler faces extinction. The Aussie in question is the Growling Grass Frog and by all accounts his call is enough to strike terror into even the biggest Victa lawnmower. Alas his days seem to be numbered.

But in his honour there was a chorus to make old growler proud when the Business Council of Australia got up at the prom this week and did their spectacular wriggler dance to try and avoid their carbon emission reduction obligations. The suits got yelled at by greenies, social welfare groups and the unions
Sorry, Business Council of Australia, the days of digging huge holes and burning swamp forests from the Age of the Dinosaurs are coming to an end.

Meanwhile back at the ranch a new study, reported by the Age, has identified 40% of Australia – 3 million square kilometres – as the largest intact wilderness on Earth, ranking in quality with the Amazon forest, Antarctica and the Sahara.
“Few Australians realise the extent and quality of their own wilderness,” said Barry Traill, a wildlife ecologist who co-wrote the study identifying 12 regions of Australia that remain almost completely untouched by humans.
“We just take what’s here for granted, not realising how rare it is,” Dr Traill said. “As the world’s last great wilderness areas disappear under pressure from human impact, to have a continent with this much remaining wilderness intact is unusual and globally significant.”

Vegans like nothing better than to make us feel guilty for chowin’ down on a nice, fat, juicy scotch fillet. But now they have green bullets to shoot at carnivores…According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Over the course of a year a diet with meat is the equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions to driving a mid-sized car 4,758 kilometres, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOeW) said.
Going vegan — giving up meat and dairy products — would cut the emissions released in making what you eat more than seven-fold, to the equivalent of driving 629 kilometres, it said.
And if it is all organic, your food footprint is almost a 17th of that of a meat-eater — the equivalent of driving 281 kilometres.

Don’t you love those ads on television where someone looks lovingly at their cat as if it is their beloved, kindly mother, then serves up sushi-quality fish from designer cans for their pussy? Well when I saw such an ad recently it made me wonder why all I get for dinner is two-minute noodles. And now I know! The cats are eating all of the world’s damned fish. Again it was The Age that brought us the story, (which makes me think it might be a bad idea to get rid of all the journos who bring us these brilliant yarns).

Calculations by Deakin University researchers show an estimated 2.48 million tonnes of forage fish are used each year by the global cat food industry.
Almost 34,000 tonnes of the increasingly limited biological resource was imported into Australia each year to satisfy feline appetites.

Real Dirt hates to go on like a broken record but we have another installment on the latest in submarine suburban architecture. The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week:

Canadian planning consultant Clive Attwater told a Coast to Coast conference in Darwin that people interested in buying “at risk” properties should be told about this.
“Warning (of) severe erosion risk by 2040 needs to be on the ad, like a cigarette packet perhaps,” he said.
“There will be losses, there will be damaging events and we need to accept that fact.”

Now we know it will be bad news for all those Tasmanian politicians who regard a job at Uncle Gunns as a nice fat super package, but it is beginning to look as though the Tassie pulp mill is goin’ down. Peter Garrett said this week he doubted that Gunns would get their environmental studies done in time. In addition every man, woman, child and Tasmanian devil in the apple isle turned out to protest this week – all 10,000 of them. As the Mercury reported:
Thousands of protesters marched through Launceston yesterday to show their continued opposition to the development of Gunns’ pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.
Clear skies and spring-like weather greeted the massive crowd, which met in City Park to listen to a series of speeches before walking through the city to Civic Square.
When the crowd arrived at the square organisers nailed a list of 12 “grievances and solutions” to a makeshift door outside the Government’s Henty House offices.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • fiona

    The wilderness area stuff is amazing…..huge. Good to place in perspective next to the Amazon, something people hear about a lot.

  • Ben Courtice

    The comment that “going vegan” would so drastically reduce an individual’s impact is misleading. Not untrue, but it diverts from an important point: we need a sustainable agriculture – in plants as well as livestock farming. I’m thinking of comments made by Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez when he spoke in Melbourne: on the one hand, it doesn’t make much ecological sense to separate out plants and animals, so farms ought to integrate them (whether or not you eat them, I might add). On the other hand, he said, (I am paraphrasing) eating a vegan diet of broad-acre industrial farmed soy and whatever that has buckets of pesticide and artificial fertiliser and may be GM etc etc is not very sustainable. And if you go to the boutique organics store and eat healthy organic food that is picked by super-exploited illegal immigrant labour in southern California (as much is, he said) you may be healthier but it isn’t exactly an ethical industry.

    If vegans think “meat is murder” etc I don’t agree but I can respect their right to think that. But I don’t think it’s fair to promote veganism by guilt-tripping people on environmental concerns. A society where some meat is eaten is not antithetical to environmental sustainability; and environmentalists will lose support if we merge our viewpoint with that of the vegan movement.

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