By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
After the Future: Australia’s New Extinction Crisis
By Tim Flannery (Quarterly Essay/Black Inc., $19.95, softcover, 107 pages)
Alarm bells start ringing after reading this fervent investigation into Australia’s efforts to protect its endangered species from extinction.
The chief commissioner of the Australian Climate Commission, Tim Flannery, puts forward a strong case—with legitimate reasons—about how Australia is eventually failing to comprehend, protect and co-exist with its natural heritage.
It spotlights the effectiveness of the federal legislation dealing with species recognised officially as being under threat and questions why species are still becoming extinct if millions of dollars are being spent to protect nature. There is also a broader view.
In the 20 years since the legislation was enacted, just one vertebrate species has increased in number sufficiently to be taken off the threatened list: the saltwater crocodile.
Rightly, Flannery was dismayed—when in the course of his research—he discovered how “haphazard and generally ineffectual our efforts at preventing extinctions have been”.
He questions the effectiveness of state and federal efforts to preserve biodiversity by setting aside national parks and nature reserves. He points out the concept of practical, measurable environmental protection being “widely neglected—even abandoned in some instance”.
Responsible for this are the “lack of awareness of the severity of Australia’s environmental problems and the increasingly divisive, ideologically-driven nature of our politics”.
Flannery suggests that the key to protecting our endangered species in a “competent and affordable manner” is action by the private and not-for-profit sectors, working with government.
However, a surprising twist in the argument is that even though Australians profess to love their wildlife, there is an ever-growing sense among many of our politicians and business leaders that the natural world is something to be traded off or a criterion to be partially satisfied.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.