For every tree we plant, we chop down 10. With the destruction of wetlands around the Murray Darling basin, 80 per cent of birds and 90 per cent of fish have disappeared. The destruction of mangroves, a breeding ground in estuaries, breeding grounds for lots of fish that live in the ocean and rivers and also birds and crabs and everything that goes on in between. So we’ve got a choice, we can continue to destroy or we can learn to change. The choice is ours.
Businessmen ask me; surely this environment stuff has nothing to do with me. And I say well, have you got a bank account? And they say yes. And I say well do you make deposits? Withdrawals? Do you prefer to make deposits or withdrawals? And they say definitely deposits, we want to build up the account, live off the interest and keep building the capital at all costs.
So I say okay, so what would you say if we looked at our environment as a bank? And we keep making withdrawal after withdrawal after withdrawal and make very few if any deposits. What’s going happen? And they say oh, you’ll go broke. So I say well how is that different to how you look at your business. And they say oh, I haven’t thought about it like that, maybe there’s something I need to think about and I might think about changing my behaviour.
We keep making withdrawals from this bank -our environment is our life-support system. We tend to have the economy as sort of a circle in the middle that generates everything w
Economists talk about how things are costed. At the moment, we do not cost things properly. All the things that get to us, whether they be products or the table in front of us, there isn’t a cost for how this was shipped here, the cost to our environment of chopping the tree down that made this table. All these things are not accounted for. We just have the bare minimum cost and put on a margin and off it goes to the next person who adds their margin until it finally gets to a person at the end of the line. For every bin of rubbish a household produces there are seven bins full of rubbish up the line that we never even see.
If we could cost everything properly and if that was something that we had to do and people insisted that it was done, that these externalities were costed ? that’s one of the fights we’re having in Australia now with this carbon tax; it’s an externality and people are polluting our skies and lungs for free and we all have to think about how we might be able to abs
But everyone here thinks we can’t afford to lead, which I find almost hilarious because I think we’re ranked number 47 just behind Azerbaijan in countries doing something about climate change. When Australia was the second country behind New Zealand in 1908 to give women the vote, were people then saying, oh we can’t afford to lead, we can’t have these women having the vote, that could be scary and civilisation could end?
I just don’t understand the fear of leading and I don’t understand why we can’t be leaders. Australia is the best-placed country to make the most out of clean energy. We have the wind, we have the solar, we have the geothermal, we have the wave, we have all these things right on our doorstep and we could export this technology to the world and be a leading country and get rich from it. And wouldn’t that be a bloody disaster!
If you look at the whole world situation, often people have a response of hopelessness. First people say that it is not happening. I can’t do anything. It’s not happening; it’s all some crazy, left-wing conspiracy. But then you think, OK, well it is happening but it’s too big for me to do anything. I can’t do anything about it. Then you get to the third stage, once you have sort of absorbed all that, and you say what will I do? Will I just plod along and ignore the plight of our natural world, our life-support system, or will I be someone who took a stand, will I be someone who inspired my kids, my family, my friends, my neighbours, my colleagues at work. It’s important to bite off something that you can handle up front.
It is the last piece of pristine wilderness on our planet. Our challenge is to preserve it.
In our consumerist age we have got away from all that. We have lost track of connecting to our natural world. I meet farmers who would not consider themselves conservationist ? you know, `fertilise the bush, bulldoze a greenie’ type of people. These are mates of mine and you go into their sheds they’ve got every piece of tin that has possibly been on the farm for last 40 years, they’ve got balls of twine, they capture their own water, they take care of their land because if they don’t, they bugger it and destroy their source of income.
They are planting trees, they’re looking after the land, they are nurturing and understanding of the natural world. They do it because it is the right thing to do, because it makes sense and because it is the right way to go.
There is science and research, but there is also communicating a message. There’s always in an argument two ends of the scale. I am very much for getting as much information and understanding from the other side, because there is always something good in the other side of an argument.
I really don’t like this I’m right your wrong fight fight gotcha gotcha gotcha, you know, the way our parliament and media operate. It’s a disgrace. I’m very much into solutions. We take the best bits from both sides and we build up in the middle somewhere. I don’t try to shove my opinions down people’s throats in the social sense or even in a communication sense.
I say here is my understanding of where we are; I’d love to hear what you reckon. Yes, good point you make – I will now incorporate that in my understanding. I have learned something from you. Thank you. It’s how you talk and how you engage and how you communicate, as much as what you’re talking about.
We want to plan a future that can be embraced, not feared and to involve all Australians in the journey.
All around Australia, and all round the world for that matter, communities that are really starting to build up in their own right taking on some of the challenges around improving our natural environment. They are helping each other to create action, whether it’s food gardens or composting, and in their own way taking steps towards a sustainable future. Now all our grandparents did this. They didn’t consider themselves greenies or left-wing crazies. They did it because it was the right, proper and sensible thing to do.