Saving the planet-it’s not just about the coal mines

No rational person believes that we should tear up the countryside in a mad chase for endless ‘progress and prosperity’,whatever that might mean. Equally, no sensible person thinks that material progress is a bad thing-I don’t know anyone who enjoys being cold, or hungry, or homeless; and I’ve certainly never met anyone who thought that having their kids die of a preventable disease, or their mum die in childbirth was a good thing.Unless you, personally, are willing to live off the land without any help from the last 10,000 years of human progress then you are stuck with the certainty of progress, and the notion that it comes at a cost.The issue, then, is to balance cost with benefit. Cost can be measured in a number of different ways.The first, and easiest to work out is the dollar cost of doing something versus the expected return.In other words, a cost benefit analysis.
The more difficult thing to work out is the cost of a loss of amenity, or the cost to individuals and communities in terms of lifestyle, the now use of finite resources as opposed to keeping them for the future and potential future problems in these areas caused by decisions we make now.These future potential issues aren’t something that we can leave for future generations to solve.Things done, and consented to on our behalf now, this week and this year will affect us, our families and our neighbours next week and next year, as well as the long distant future.A perfect example of what I am talking about is the way the basic nature of Caloundra has changed in the last few years.Remember when our skyline was mostly sky? Remember when there was more grass than concrete? Remember houses with backyards and trees?
Everyone needs somewhere to live, and higher density housing is one way to provide a growing population with cost effective housing that can tick a lot of boxes in terms of energy efficiency, sustainability and the like, but like everything else, it can be done well or it can be done poorly.What happens to the water table when large areas are covered in roads and houses?What happens to marine life in the Bribie passage when rainfall that once made its way into that same water table is drained straight into the waterway?How does the change in the natural chemical balance of the passage affect it’s long term health? How does the reflected heat from thousands of windows in dozens of high rise buildings in Caloundra and hundreds of rooftops in Aura affect the rising temperatures that we are always being warned about? What is the long term price of replacing native vegetation with roads and introduced shrubs that look great but birds can’t nest in?
These problems are real, and are affecting us now.Our air quality is declining, trees and vegetation are the planets air filter, literally, the more the merrier!! Scientists tell us repeatedly that water security is a coming problem, yet our governments continue to allow the exact sorts of development that is guaranteed make the problems worse.
There has been no real examination of the problems associated with the way we build cities in Queensland, the issues around housing, where and how we work, traffic flow, etc; and even less (to the point of none!!) examination of social problems that come with all of the above.If you speak to people who live in places like Aura and Bell’s Creek, as I do, on a regular basis, you learn that there is as many negative points as positive.I hear constantly about a lack of privacy-don’t get a stomach bug because going to the toilet at 2:00am might wake the neighbours.There is almost nowhere for little kids to play safely outdoors without constant adult supervision.Worried about the kids screen time?No back yard won’t help.No back yard gives you nowhere to go and blow off steam, no lawn to mow or garden to nature. Our lives are increasingly being lived indoors, to no one’s benefit, and the root cause is a COMPLETE lack of genuine forward planning and a refusal by politicians to make hard decisions.
For too long, leadership in this country has been seduced by the perfume of imperial leather and the warmth of sycophant’s praise.Surely it is time to change?

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