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Environmentally Unfriendly Australia

Posted on 18th July 2014

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Australia is not looking very green, based on this story and this story from the BBC.

In the first, we read that the Australian government is in the process of repealing the carbon tax that was introduced by the previous government. As pointed out in the article, Australia is the world's biggest polluter, per capita, (due in part to lots of air-conditioning, the lack of an effective rail network and very big engines in their cars) and clearly needs to do something to reduce carbon emissions, but everyone is whining because it costs money. Well (Duh!), of course it is going to cost money, but you don't have the right to live cheaply by polluting my planet. Do I need to sue the Australian government for damage to my health, life-expectancy and life-style, to encourage them to get their priorities right?

The second story describes the death of a 4m-long (13ft) great white shark, which died off the west coast of Australia. It seems to have choked to death by swallowing a sea lion. Whilst the death of the shark was probably not preventable, and was a natural event, there is mention in the story that, although great white sharks are a protected species in Australia, there is a controversial cull under way aimed at reducing attacks on humans. How can you protect a species, and then cull it?

Both these stories highlight a basic problem with green policies (wildlife preservation, pollution reduction, preservation of natural resources, etc.): people and governments are happy to support green policies only as long as it is not inconvenient to do so; if it costs money, creates risk (to health or life) for people, or impacts life-style, then forget it! There are, however, almost no green policies that do not have such negative side-effects; renewable energy costs more, recycling costs time and money, and wildlife puts people at all kinds of risk.

It really is time to stop looking for easy options to save our planet, and "bite the bullet". Saving the environment will impact our lives (and finances), but failing to do so will impact them even more.