Should we just give up on fixing the environment? - Reptile Encounters

Should we just give up on fixing the environment?

By Catherine Mallia/13 June 2024

With endless reports on the world’s environmental issues, are we all doomed?

Of course not!

It’s time to turn things around…

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

 

We do need to face the facts though: there’s no more time to argue about whether there’s a problem. We’re all in this together, so let’s change the trajectory.

Australian State of the Environment Report

Every five years, the Australian Government reviews the state of our environment across 12 key themes, such as air and water quality, biodiversity, climate change, and waste management. The most recent report, from 2021, included valuable insights from First Nations peoples.

Why bring this up now? 

Because we’re not moving fast enough. With Plastic Free July approaching, it’s the perfect time to revisit the report, tackle the plastics issue, and make simple changes right now.

Alarming Statistics

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

The report reveals that Australia’s environment is deteriorating due to habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, resource extraction, and pollution.

  • Threatened Species: Despite some successes, the number of threatened species has increased by 8% since 2016.
  • Climate Change: Australia has warmed by 1.1°C in the oceans and 1.4°C on land, leading to more extreme weather and coral bleaching.
  • Water Systems: Low rainfall and high evaporation rates are affecting river systems, especially in the Murray-Darling Basin, where large-scale fish deaths were recorded in 2019.
  • Invasive Species: Around 10% of the 2,800 introduced plant species are invasive, costing Australia billions.

Victoria’s State of the Environment 2023 Report

This report isn’t any better. Only 12% of 166 status assessments were rated as ‘good.’ Predictions include a 12 cm rise in sea levels by 2030 across Victorian coastlines.

Our air quality declined in the reporting period due to increased bushfires. 

Our biodiversity is struggling. Only two of the 42 biodiversity trends measured are improving. We’re not on track at all to meet the Biodiversity 2037 targets, which aims to see a pause on the frequency of species listed as endangered and restoration in extent and quality of habitat, amongst other targets.

What about plastics?

 

Photo by K B on Unsplash

Photo by K B on Unsplash

Plastic pollution is a perfect example of rapid, human-induced damage.

Can you imagine a life without takeaway coffee cups, pre-packaged vegetables or body wash in a bottle? These have become so much a part of every day, but remember we’ve only had single-use disposables, in growing numbers, since maybe the 1950’s! 

Since then we’ve seen everything become disposable.  

The effects of this are huge! From the visible water bottles and straws you step over in the street that end up drifting in the oceans choking birds, turtles, fish and marine mammals, to the invisible micro-plastics contaminating soils, waterways and eventually our own bodies. And let’s not forget roughly 6% of global oil is used in the production of plastics, creating their own emissions.

Globally, every single week… 

 

Plastic packaging makes up a lot of the plastics that end up in our oceans, rivers or in landfill.

Waste from fishing such as fishing lines and nets also make up a large proportion of plastic pollution in oceans.

This is where we can make a real difference. 

Making an Impact

Instead of…

Try…

Freezer and produce bags

Reusable produce bags

Disposable water bottles and cups

Bringing reusable ones

Eating fish and seafood 

Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet. Reducing support of fisheries means less plastic waste abandoned in our seas. 

Throwing things out

Repair it! Service departments for TVs, electronics and white goods died off because it became easier to buy new things than fix the old, can we bring back repairs?

Printing documents

Reading and signing digitally

Ignoring litter

Pick it up and dispose of it properly. Visit Take 3 for the Sea for the impact this can have. 

Not knowing where to start

Head to Plastic Free July for some easy steps to start now

Going it alone

Join First Nations people, respecting and learning from their deep knowledge and connection to this unique land that has been passed down for thousands of years

Getting overwhelmed

Starting small and picking one thing to change

It’s not too late to turn this around!

Small actions can lead to significant change!

Photo by Graham Holtshausen on Unsplash

Photo by Graham Holtshausen on Unsplash

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