Healthy environment, Healthy future – An Editorial

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Marble floor flooded by the sea. Stock media provided by Vit Kovalcik / Pond5

Warming of the oceans is a reality with Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice melting at a rapid rate. Rising sea levels already affect many island nations and the coastlines of different countries will soon experience increasing shifts in the shoreline toward the land. The rate of environmental change though is often assumed to be something human society can deal with in the future. Decisions related to global warming and actions needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce carbon in the oceans, are too late for some animals and plants, the current rate of modern extinction is estimated by some research studies as 10 species per day.

Arctic environments are diminishing and the habitat specific animals and plants that live there and attract millions of tourists each year will disappear along with the ice. Even though sea ice is retreating at both ends of the planet, I have read in the media, companies are going to take advantage of this situation, through the mining of areas formerly unable to be reached for oil, gas and coal. Tourism opportunities will benefit from the bluer oceans and warmer weather, with activities promising financial incentives to impoverished communities. I don’t understand any other financial incentive except for the conservation of these arctic areas.

The Poreto Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Stock media provided by Joao Barcelos / Pond5

The Great Barrier Reef creates a lot of employment for North Queensland communities through ecotourism and its worth was estimated by Deloitte Access Economics at $56 billion in 2017, all due to the living coral reef and its wildlife, one of the largest living natural wonders of the world. The Barrier Reef and many natural ecosystems are under threat from global warming and human activities.

The World Meterological Organisation published their annual report in the Greenhouse Bulletin for 2017. Apparently, greenhouse gas has increased by a record-breaking amount in the past year, challenging what is said by a lot of countries worldwide that they are reducing their emissions. Scientific evidence shows not enough has been done to avert disasters instigated by modification of the environment.

Colourful coral reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, part of the Coral Triangle. Stock media provided by Ethan D / Pond5

Federal and state legislation and the regulations created to protect and conserve the environment are constantly on the move, and if amendments are approved, the law enables projects to legally proceed, projects which promise to bolster socio-economic prosperity. However, profits and resources leave the country and locals are left to pay more money for energy compared to overseas countries or even interstate counterparts.

Gas, coal and nuclear energy are established sources of energy with the worst possible environmental outcomes if something goes wrong. When you learn about the process required, and how water, air and soil are polluted, urban lights distract species from their nocturnal migration and noise causes severe social and environmental disturbances in science reports, it really makes you wonder.

Environmental law reform plays out in courtrooms around the world and the news media have adopted the conversation. Updates are constantly broadcast via talk shows on radio, podcast and television; and stories are flooding magazines and newspapers. The rhetoric and inuendo published make for an intriguing distraction, while greenhouse gas emissions continue and the health of the environment declines.

Dry land at the bottom of a lake. Stock media provided by Jaume Balague / Pond5

The ocean and the air connect us all and what happens in one part of the world affects a community on the other side of the planet. Pollution travels in streams, creeks and rivers out to the ocean; or into the atmosphere and blown over many kilometres. Deforestation causes injury and mortality to many animals. Wildlife relocated to conservation parks usually have a slim chance of survival because they want to return to a home territory that no longer exists. They forage for food in farms and crops, causing damage to the supply of goods to the community as a consequence.

Tree on dry land, effect of changing environment – creative concept image. Stock media provided by Leo Lintang / Pond5

Governments have access to a lot of data on a daily basis, which arms them with the foresight to make positive decisions for the future. Given the hindsight of history and archeological evidence of ancient mistakes, expediting the implementation of environmentally friendly practices by brave people, are the real ‘gold mines’ we need for the future.

Editorial by Gabrielle Ahern

All the information researched for this editorial is published via the world wide web and science journals available to the public.

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