By Gill Baker, Wangaratta Sustainability
Recently I experienced the joy of cuddling the newest addition to our family. A new baby beats everything doesn’t it? Even the newest technology, a job promotion, or a lottery win.
But what sort of Australia will this little fellow inherit?
Having spent a lifetime teaching young people to understand and value the natural world, to think logically, to be able to analyse problems and apply their knowledge, it is disheartening to see the poor example they are set by our leadership and media. Young people are passionate about caring for the natural world, just as they are compassionate about social justice. When taught well they will consider the big picture issues and the problems underlying them, but we seem to be letting future generations down with our constant drive for increased wealth and consumption, growth that is unsustainable in a finite world.
It’s hard to have confidence in a sustainable future when governance at every level appears to spend more time and effort playing adversarial politics and over-reacting to dramatized, media driven issues. In fact developing a balanced and sustainable vision for Australia’s future seems a lost cause.
There is, however, a groundswell of interest amongst community groups in the North East in ensuring that we do leave a sustainable future. Their members understand that Economics and Ecology can be aligned in a way that enables us to have productive working lives without grossly depleting resources, or further destroying habitat essential to our unique flora and fauna. They understand that fresh water reserves can be shared justly between human needs and the requirements of river systems. That it’s not too late to turn back the heat from human induced climate change (although the tipping points are getting closer).
Australians have a history of practicality and innovation, and should be leading the world towards a more sustainable future, instead we seem to have lost the plot. With such potential for renewable energy here Australia should be a leader in rolling out renewable technologies, instead we lag far behind Europe.
Each of us needs to think about how we live, and what we can do to reduce our footprints on the earth. We can all put pressure on governments to make environmental sustainability a major policy priority, and we can all set an example by our behaviours at home, at school, at work and in our communities.