At the start of the election campaign federal environment minister Greg Hunt came here to announce $50 million in new projects to boost water quality, including efforts to keep sediment, fertilisers and pesticides off the Great Barrier Reef. This announcement was partly to allay concerns over research showing 93% of the Reef had been bleached and dire predictions that the Reef will be dead in 25 years.
A major problem for the Reef's survival is that the government has also promised hundreds of millions of dollars to promote land clearing, mega farms, mining and coal seam gas projects in north Queensland that will place a huge burden on the Reef.
They have recently approved the Adani Carmichael mega coalmine near Bowen. Adani's mine, which will be the biggest in Australia, will greatly contribute to global warming and drive coral bleaching and reef die-back.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientist and spokesman Sean Hoobin said in a statement: "We have viable renewable alternatives that don't sacrifice the 67,000 jobs the Reef provides and that will generate thousands of new jobs. It will take several billion dollars to save the Great Barrier Reef from water quality threats. A reef rescue plan, on the scale of the one forged for the Murray-Darling basin, is needed.”
WWF Australia has grave doubts the federal government will meet its current funding commitments to the Reef or that future funding will come close to what is needed to save it from agricultural run-off and sediment build up.
The decline of the Reef is a clear warning of the threat we face from biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change.
There is growing awareness that if we try to maintain the old capitalist business model of constant growth and expansion to stay viable and profitable, we are doomed.
No economic system can keep growing in a finite natural environment. It will inevitably destroy our ecosystems, natural capital base and social fabric in the process of chasing ever-expanding profits.
The myth of continual growth and expansion is promoted by economists, governments and corporations who are often interested only in their short term agendas, profits and power.
The problem with the “perpetual growth” business model is highlighted in the weapons manufacturing and warfare industries. The New York Times recently reported that the US has passed a new milestone: President Barack Obama has now been at war longer than any president in US history. Obama has taken military action in at least seven countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — resulting in a record 60 million people being driven from their homes last year to seek asylum in other countries.
Australia, as a military ally of the US is also obliged to match their ever-increasing military spending, as seen in the government's new order for 12 submarines from the French for $50 billion.
This $50 billion is roughly $333 million per federal electorate. If that money were spent in the Cairns electorate of Leichhardt we could begin the transformation to sustainable, organic, regenerative agriculture. We could protect the Reef, rainforest and our region from the environmental threats they are facing and have money left for infrastructure which would facilitate a better lifestyle, relationships and community for everyone.