Yellowbellies are just one species in the massive fish kill of one million fish in the Menindee Lakes on the Darling River last week and a State government Minister who visited the scene of this ecological catastrophe has the hide to suggest these fish have been ‘”affected”! What sort of a weasel word is this coming from a Minister who wants to be re-elected in March?
Now in the wash up after this tragedy for those species that don’t have a vote in their future and for those residents along the Darling who do have a vote and whose lives have been shattered, blame is being aimed far and wide, be it climate change, the extreme drought, the cotton industry upstream and the over-allocation of the essential life-giving water to annual crops in a time of severe drought in the Darling catchment, water theft and of course the usual suspects, the present State and Federal governments.
But this decline in the health of our rivers has been going on for decades under the supposed stewardship of both Coalition and Labor governments. And to date not one government we have chosen to elect appears to have had the courage to stand up to the short-term narrow demands of a powerful few.
Is it any wonder that thousands of our school children last month took a day off school to protest governments’ inaction on fundamental, vital issues that, if not adequately addressed now, will adversely affect their future, their future in which they don’t yet have a vote?
Today’s school students are not stupid for they understand the following basic facts:-
We need clean, carbon-constrained AIR, unpolluted WATER, uncontaminated SOIL and SPECIES DIVERSITY, the Web of Life on which all life depends.
They also understand Barry Commoner’s “Laws of Ecology.” from the 1970s :-
Everything is connected to everything else.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
In one line “We all live downstream.” as did those one million fish who used to live in the Darling River.
Here our magnificent Clarence River is in reasonable shape today. But just ask anyone who fished in our beautiful river fifty years what the fishing used to be like.
My only hope for my three and four year old grandchildren is that we voters learn something from this ecological disaster on the Darling and take action to try to ensure similar disasters don’t happen in our children’s future for this is even more important than how the Aussies are doing at cricket.
The future is what you choose.
Harry Johnson, Iluka