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The Time to Act Is Now

By Gill Baker, Wangaratta Sustainability

It’s not only the head of the Catholic Church who has recognised the invidious nature of human induced Climate Change, and has been prepared to speak out about it. As well as the Christian Churches, Islamic, Buddhist and many other religious groups have ‘Green Faith’ movements which are concerned about protecting our environment, and are prepared to work together on Climate Change.

Closer to home, the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta has included environmental issues in its Social justice agenda, along with  Poverty, Peace, Equality and all those other justice issues of the moment. Thinking about how they are all linked seems inevitably  to lead to the conclusion that, without an overarching healthy environment, it is difficult to concentrate on the other problems. Survival is paramount.  Many countries in the world have the right to a healthy environment enshrined in their constitution, Australia is not one of these.

I once read of the difficulty of preserving forests in Africa.  Every morning in some villages the women and children walk long distances to collect firewood for cooking. As the wood nearest to the village is used up,  so they walk further, destroying the forest ecosystems as they go. There’s no blame attached here, they do what they have to do to survive.  Similarly, farmers from Europe coming to Australia in the nineteenth century, comprehensively cleared land to farm as intensively as they could.  They didn’t understand that Australian soils were fragile and inclined to salinity, especially when shallow rooted plants replaced the trees.  Or that many European crops required more fertilization and water than the landscape could reasonably supply.  Or that burning fossil fuels would rapidly change our climate.

But now that we do understand, there is no excuse.  Understanding the needs of the land should enable us to work with it to provide for our own needs, as well as protecting those other than human species that share the planet with us. The Landcare movement has done much to take us in the right direction, but there is still so much more to be done, and every one of us needs to play a part.

As David Suzuki, one of the world’s most respected environmentalists says, the time to act is now.