“Bad old Days and (the) Harbingers of Doom”


During and well before the Bad old Days, Humans including those of those of Industry and Government were quite dirty, disrespectful and downright careless with our House – Earth. It took many years before Climate Science and Environmental conscience (natural and built environment) started seeping into Society to change the status quo. Sometimes cold hard facts appeared too difficult to stomach for our masters in Industry and Government. What about the rest of the Population and their ‘servant’ needs?? Oh yes, those in charge were clear that they were looking after our needs. “No need to worry about that” was endlessly quoted to the rest of us by the Government and Industry of the day. Questioning was discouraged, Scientists were undeterred. Research and being noisy with their scientifically founded truths continued. Read on……..


It does take Humans some time to wake up to issues that affect us. Traditionally we were trained to be compliant and not ask questions. Men go to Work and do what the Boss said, usually questions are best kept to oneself. Meanwhile, Wife and children are supposed to exist just like the working Husband did – to obey and not question. This was the way, in the Bad Old days before and during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Industry had a clear licence from all Governments to do as they pleased. Their ethics were based purely on profit motive including growth, growth, growth. Ethics of considering the health of humans were not part of the picture for those that paid and led us.

Causing adverse impacts to our Health and Environment? So what! It was considered a small matter to concern the public with. Big Business and compliant Governments were our generous giving Benefactors. We were supposed to be thankful for their provided bounty as it put food on the table and helped pay the bills. We had been indoctrinated over many Centuries to trust them to do the right thing.

At Wittenoom in Western Australia, we were employed to mine an in demand mineral called blue asbestos with application in many heat and bonding applications. Some of the Mine surplus was used as soft fall in Playgrounds because it is light, fluffy and fall absorbent. Industry already had its own research that was clear as to the toxic nature of this deadly substance, but they were more than happy to send the unknowing workers mostly to eventual extremely painful death via Mesothelioma. The wives washed the husbands asbestos impregnated work clothes and many suffered similar deathly fates. Children of miners having fun in the playground also inhaled the blue death and are now suffering the same fate as Mom and Dad some 40 years after.

Blue Asbestos is now a long term health curse throughout many parts of the World.

This scenario of not much care for the employee was (and still is to some extent) prevalent across the Planet. Democracy and Dictatorships alike were guilty of this. Our living and natural Environment was not spared this “not much care” mentality. Mineral exploitation, the need for more resources, forest timbers, grazing lands, oil and gas, just kept on pumping up with little regard for the Planets health. Our ecosystem and the resources it contained (including humans} were solely to be plundered and abused for profit. Harsh but True.

Our time of the late 1960’s saw massive industrial pollution very well established. Plastic was really kicking in as a manufactured and Consumer item. Rivers all over the planet anywhere vaguely near human populations were becoming dead, black and foamy. Contamination of traditional clean water resources increased dramatically. Acid rain and Smog caused by the toxic soup coming out of the industrial smokestacks, increasing motor vehicles and now poisoned rivers were seriously stripping forests in Town and Country bare, causing significant respiratory illnesses and death.

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1966 New York Smog at its worst. Just imagine being at ground level breathing in the toxic soup! The stress on the health system was savage. Credit: Neal Boenzi/NYT

Large scale clearing of all vegetation types for growing populations and rapidly expanding grazing and crop lands affected rainfall patterns and quantities. Essential Topsoil was either wind blown or washed away to the extent that in many areas Communities were severely impacted causing famine related mass migration events. City folk were (and still are) affected as well from random dust storms from the now cleared areas. We kept on repeating these environmental catastrophes time and again without a view back to the past.

Did we learn the lessons from the American Dust Bowl catastrophe of the 1930’s? Maybe America and Canada did, but the rest of the World conveniently forgot and went on making the same simple mistakes. Just move forward with more profit and growth. Not pretty at all and carried out by Humans for Humans. History must not keep on repeating itself as so clearly enunciated in “History Repeating “, by Propellerheads.

Downtown Melbourne, Australia 8 Feb 1983 about to be enveloped by a dust storm from the Mallee District of northern Victoria. estimated to be carrying 50,000 tonnes of precious topsoil and dumped 1,000 tonnes on Melbourne City itself. The Mallee, (Eucalyptus dryland species) had been progressively cleared across 150 years for large scale monoculture and animal grazing. Ongoing drought with nothing left to bind the soil and this is the end result. Mallee Root was sourced as quality, clean burning firewood in Melbourne fireplaces and some stoves. Have been known to chuck a Root or two in the fireplace myself. Very toasty on a Coolish Winter’s night! It was mainly a By-product of land clearing. Credit: Google Images

In the Deep South of the Planet- my hometown of Hobart in Tasmania, we were not excluded – Paper Pulp Mill up-river near New Norfolk , the Zinc Works, Glass Factory and myriad of other smaller industrial plants including Cadburys factory in Claremont used the Derwent River and it’s inlet bays as their outflow drain and dump. Major sludge built up in the Bays and Inlets along the river stuffing up fish breeding reed beds and shellfish habitat. Unknown to us then was the serious amount of heavy metals being discharged by the Polluters. I am sure they knew what was in their outflows and smoke stacks. Fish became less frequent, shellfish populations were wiped out, tidal areas started to stink at low tide. What were once light sand colour river beaches turned grey to black. For many years the Zinc Works heavy metal rich stockpile was permanently uncovered with much of the fine dust blowing over adjoining suburbs especially Lutana, with heavy metals contaminating the backyard vege crop. Anecdotal evidence of Cancer clusters were and still are, more than just rumour.

This was not ignorance by the producers and Govt that drove this excessive pollution, it was the out of sight out of mind mentality for profit first. This was Governments growing local income and employment by offering generous tax subsidies and other incentives (like free Power) to set up Industry. It was the Industry players themselves looking for places with cheap power and flowing rivers (like Hobart) to set up. They already had research that knew the toxic nature of their industrial surplus and by-products that either went via the smoke-stack into the atmosphere or surplus via the drain into the water system. They knew! Profit drove them and us to look the other way without thought to short, medium or the long-term ecological consequences. After all – out of sight and out of mind, right? Wrong!!

Yes there was the odd dissenting voice, but not enough cohesive voices to make any difference. In those days if formally challenged, massive Industry and to some extent Govt. resources with well paid lawyers did the damage control and the random few that really cared and voiced out were pretty much smashed up and spat out. Most of them got right back up, did some running repairs and started questioning and dissenting again. Fantastic! But they really had little impact to the established thinking by those in charge in these bad old days and that includes the Science community. But the Global Warming Scientists persisted with their new findings and knowledge that challenged traditional wisdom. The new generation activists backed them up and persisted as well. Would they be successful in challenging the overwhelming tide of ignorance, don’t care and arrogance of Industry and Governments?

Read more in 2.2 Harbingers of Doom coming very soon.

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