Don’t know if you saw the recent tv program on the geological history of Australia. Some early stuff I didn’t know. For example that enormous mass of iron ore in WA was deposited when the first primitive organisms that could generate oxygen began doing so and all the iron in the seas rusted. The iron and other ores around Broken Hill generated in the deep seas which then ran through this part of the continent. Coal and gas of course laid down when the then lush tropical vegetation died and rotted and was buried far underground by sediments. All flukes really, that the deposits occur in Australia, and flukes dependent on conditions that can never be repeated from millions, even billions, of years ago. No more of that stuff being made on this planet.
On top of the land surface Australia had a rich biodiversity of abundant plant and animal life, also the result of millions of years of evolution and ecosystem development. This biodiversity sustained Aboriginal people in considerable comfort for around 50,000 years, and then provided the basis for English colonists to fell timber, graze sheep and cattle on the extensive grasslands, and grow crops where the soils were deep and organically rich. Not building diversity and rich soils any more.
There’s an old, sorta joke, which says “Want to invest in a sure thing? Buy land, they’re not making it any more”. It’s a message that should have been given to every citizen of Australia to use as a reminder that resources are limited. Instead we have behaved for two and a quarter centuries as Australia Unlimited. Big country, plenty of soil, plenty of trees, plenty of mineral resources. Now the crunch is coming, and there are a couple of urgent responses we need to make. We need to ensure that a good proportion of the staggeringly huge profits being made from digging up those made-once-only mineral resources come back to benefit the 21,999,997 of us who are not mining billionaires. That they are used to create a stronger better Australia as a solid home for us when resources start to dwindle or the demand for them disappears. One of the things we could do with it is sort out infrastructure needs as the climate changes – infrastructure like efficient irrigation, like decent efficient transport, like support for large scale renewable energy projects. And support for individuals in education, health, aged care and so on. The recent budget, trying to balance all those needs, pulling up the blanket to cover the head only to expose the toes, is a classic example of failure to use the mining resources wisely.
And the other response is to stop destroying remaining forests and to start restoring soils to good health. Not least because we need the environment as healthy as it can be to meet the changing climate.
What’s that other saying? Oh yes,”A stitch in time saves nine. Time we started urgent stitching.