Tasmania – forest lies, lies, and more lies.
Tasmania – where blokes are blokes, and trees are nervous.
A state where everything is above board, but Royal Commissions – the highest level of independent inquiry into allegedly corrupt use of authority – are practically banned. Oh Tassie – thank goodness for you, the one place on Earth where destroying forest ecosystems defies physics, biology and chemistry to fight global warming. How? Buggered if I know, but some big blokes with beetroot-blood pressure and friends running chainsaws seem to have worked it out.
Barely a week ago, Paul Lennon – the spectacularly inept Premier of Tasmania and occasional dinner-buddy of Gunns’ CEO John Gay – made a baffling announcement. In response to Professor Ross Garnaut’s analysis of the climate change issues and options facing Australia, Lennon declared that once and for all it was time to get the facts straight about Tasmania’s forests.
This was baffling for two reasons.
Firstly, Lennon and his colleagues in government, industry, and small-minded lobby groups have spent decades arguing that old growth grows on trees and should therefore be woodchipped as quickly as possible lest it get out of control. This argument shifted in the ’90s toward the need for human-led forest management for the good of forests, because without humans, forests are incapable of cutting themselves down. The latest model is two-pronged – logging prevents bushfires (just like abortions prevent cancer) and clearing forests makes room to plant more trees and therefore fight climate change (yes, they are that stupid). In essence, these people have deemed themselves the source of all forest facts. By calling for someone intelligent and with no connection to forestry cash to disseminate facts, Lennon risked undoing decades of half-assed but ubiquitous propaganda.
Secondly, for any non-Greens member of Tasmanian parliament, let alone the bug-eyed, frothing, rabidly pro-Gunns Premier to call for a setting aside of nonsensical argument and the genuinely independent presentation of clear, firm, scientifically credible facts about the environmental impacts of logging is simply unheard of.
But today everything is back to normal. Thanks to our good progressive friends at GetUp, we can see Lennon’s message for what it was. Thanks largely to his timing, it was just another hot, steaming, cow chip of media distraction from a sociopathic Tasmanian bureaucrat. GetUp has just circulated the following release:
You may have missed it, but the Tasmanian Government last week unbelievably signed an agreement handing over Tasmania’s forests to the Gunns pulp mill for the next 20 years – in the very same week Professor Garnaut warned them of the dire climate change consequences facing us.
If we don’t act now, bulldozers will start clearing land for the mill that will contribute 2% of Australia’s greenhouse emissions – at a time when we’re being told we need to drastically cut our emissions. But unfortunately Australia’s forests were largely left out of Garnaut’s recent interim report.
We have only one opportunity to put them in the picture. A proper assessment in his impending Climate Change Report of our native forests’ climate change value may just sink the mill project. Click here now to sign the petition asking Professor Garnaut to examine the full climate impact of this mill madness and the logging of Tasmania’s native forests:
There’s a real risk the Garnaut report won’t include a comprehensive assessment of native forests – despite new research finding the stopping of deforestation a “large, immediate and perishable opportunity”* to massively reduce emissions. Costing out the real value of native forests will not only prove Tasmania’s trees would be better left in the ground but make this teetering project financially unviable when Gunns realises they will have to pay for the carbon embedded in our forests.
Native forests are invaluable sources of carbon storage – and it costs nothing to leave them in the ground. But 80% of the 4.5 million tonnes of wood needed to supply the pulp mill each year will initially come from Tassie’s native forests – permanently destroying forests that can hold 10-20 times the amount of CO2 than plantations.
A proper assessment of their climate change value will undoubtedly make the arguments in favour of the mill, whose climate change impact has never even been assessed, untenable. Take action to protect nature’s lungs before the bulldozers move in:
Long story short, Lennon can dance naked down the main street of Hobart wearing wattle in his hair and singing about how he loves the freaky forest critters and their precious wooded homes because he has already pushed through the legislation guaranteeing that they will all be turned into dioxinated mulch.
What visionary leaders he, his state Labor Party, and their big-L small-minded ‘opposition’ are.
Many people may have missed it, but Kyoto in its current incarnation is the best hope for global climate action. Even supposedly progressive governments in supposedly first world countries still treat Kyoto as though it’s too hard, but it is riddled with perverse incentives.
For example, emissions from international shipping and air traffic are not included on anybody’s scorecard at the moment – even though these vapours are as damaging as those of any American cattle ranch or any Chinese coal plant. More directly, Kyoto rewards the cutting down of trees that were planted before the 1990s by recognizing the carbon uptake potential of new trees planted in their place – which means that governments have incentive to replace 600-year old eucalypts with water-intensive saplings.
Add in the fact that Tasmania’s forest ecosystems are administered by people you wouldn’t trust to look after a goldfish, and all the big environmental research, studies, reports, and recommendations look less and less like progress, and more and more like good ways to feel proactive about doing less than nothing.