Damage Control!!

As a Photographer and for much of my life, a professional Aviator I am privileged to see the earth from some quite fantastic angles and places. Mostly in and over Australia. Having been a “bush” pilot for much of that my view has often been less visited remote areas and associated people. I have come to know the entire continent of Australia very well though. As with many other aviators because it is in your face  you notice changes to the earth made by man every day. Viewed from my “office” often at  30,000ft or so, my experience is that humans are the only species on earth to make a very unavoidably obvious visual impact on the earth. Even in those very remote places it is very unusual to not see some signs of mans disturbance or scarring of  earth. Mostly not good!! The underneath parts are also obviously effected in that reef may have colour or is just white (bleached, dead). The river valleys dry, miscoloured and even re-routed, the list goes on. The lights of cities and large towns are visible glowing on the horizon at night from hundreds of kilometres away!  In fact blotting out the stars and planets very often with the overbearing glow. Those  globe wide  glows require power usually made by burning cubic miles of coal worldwide. Most people are asleep while all this energy is being used. How logical is that!!

Without scientific analysis, just using the senses of sight, smell, hearing and instinct that for untold eons has been the senses we we born with and developed for survival we can sense/see the painfully obvious destruction we are impacting upon our “space ship”. Our small beautifully coloured and equipped planet . This planet blasts through the totally hostile  and un-liveable environment of space at about 574,000 miles per hour in relation to our galaxy. We are physically unaware of our passage because the earth protects and nurtures us and gives us a pretty good ride. It therefore only makes absolute sense that we respect and nurture it, that is, every part of it, out of common sense for a our own species survival. That means respecting ALL that lives on and is on this planet as we all rely on keeping the interconnected relationships all earth planet residents and components require. Only the very smallest amount of which we are starting to gain some knowledge of. We are actually a part of it, not separate so in a sense we are only destroying ourselves when we damage and pollute.

Ancient cultures by ritual and basic way of life not to mention not over crowding had virtually no destructive  impact on the planet. That is perhaps why, Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer Wade Davis’ book title says it all: The Wayfinders: why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world. We are not, in this “modern” world, as smart as we think. It is a terrific book to read.

In Australia we are potentially destroying a huge and incredibly fragile environment of sub artesian water, the Great Artesian Basin by extracting water at unprecedented rates for mining but also proposing and actually digging, huge holes in the ground to extract coal and other ore but mostly coal. Those holes or open cut mines are going right down into the Great Artesian Basin. The coal ( while we pat ourselves on the back with Australia’s new “carbon tax” etc) is to be exported to other countries who have literally bought out a lot of Australia, to be then converted into cubic miles and billions of tonnes of atmospheric carbon pollution.  The rate of injection into the atmosphere is far greater than natural means can convert it back it into safer (for life) ways or forms of holding the carbon in such a short time frame. ie  to be stored as trees, ground based carbon such as oil and coal etc

But we’re good in Australia as the most mass of this coal being burnt isn’t happening on our shores. So who cares! It is happening on the planet though and therefore effects all. The planet is not that big!! The mining process is destroying land that could last forever as a food bowl for people at sustainable rates and for more than just Australians. Once destroyed by mining and/or Coal Seam gas extraction it is as good as useless for agriculture for the foreseeable future if not forever.

I don’t often get on my “soap box” about these things and probably won’t in future. But!! The images on my site come from the respect and love of the beauty that exists in the natural world. The following images are a few I took last year. Two are on the one flight down the Queensland coast of Australia at 18,000 feet. The other is sustainable power generation in Far North Queensland. Its compatibility with living things is obvious in the photo. The one of the coal mine and coal fired power station is fuzzy because it was photographed down through pollution even though it is in a fairly low density population area. The patchwork valley image is the Burdekin River Valley in North Queensland. The Burdekin flows into the Coral Sea inside of The Great Barrier Reef. It is environmentally sustainable agriculture . That valley is not far from where a huge major coal shipping terminal is proposed for new mines and the river is at the downstream end of the catchment area in which two of the proposed mines will be, each of which will be among the largest open cut mines the world has ever seen. Both in one very eco sensitive, relatively small, catchment area that flows into the Coral Sea which contains one of the internationally recoginised and world heritage listed wonders of the natural world. The Great Barrier Reef.

There are many active environmentalists campaigning in Australia to have Government and Industry accountable. These non intelligent non thinking occurrences are widespread. I only cite this example. Environmentalists are fighting an uphill battle in Australia with short term ego based political and “profit despite long term cost” – thinking – ie. thinking only until the next election and short term money grabbing multi-national and billionaire owned company’s attitudes. Both of whom are only thinking of themselves and not the future of the life on and of the planet.


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