3.1 GOOD NEW DAYS
Most of the 1980’s into the 90’s were on the up and up for growing Environmental Awareness and action around the Planet. Enough of the General population were now talking loudly about Doomsday with long term frustration that the “Bad Old Days” of ‘not much care‘ for our health and environment really hadn’t left at all. Increasingly knowledgeable noise with certainty came from Scientists and Activists including Graduates, Students, Teachers/Lecturers, Planners, L Archs, Archs, Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants and yes a few of those Engineering types!
Government and Industry were forced to notice these Scientists, Activists and trainee Politicians who were yelling – “THIS IS SERIOUS MUM!! We’ve been telling you for the past 15 YEARS and with Proper SCIENCE attached!!”. The quote is referenced from TISM (This Is Serious Mum), who were an awesome, eccentric and vigorous band that made Australia a much better place to be during the 80’s, 90’s and into the 00’s. Recommended listening – “Greg, the Stop Sign”. May substitute the word “Earth” for “Greg” in the song if one so desires.
Government had to step up and deal with now clear Scientific consequences of their assisted Environmental rape and pillage on behalf of a Community that they had never sought opinion from before. Out of this background political candidates started getting elected. In Australia, Green Candidates became Local Councillors and later Senators in Federal Parliament. During 1972 the first ever Green Party in the World formed – “The United Tasmania Group” that later morphed into the “Greens Party. Bob Brown and Jo Valentine are synonymous with this long term rise into Australian Federal Politics. 1989-1993 saw the rise of the German ‘Greens’ being elected to various Parliaments that spurred on the rest of Europe and Britain. The German Greens visited Australia early on and played a pivotal role in the Australian Greens forming. Worldwide, Urban Environmental and Community action Groups were popping up and staying up.
More than a bit of ‘Green’ Zealotry was creeping into the established and Conservative corridors of Government. Environmental Legislation went’ Mad overnight’. (overnight translates as 3-5 years) Planners finally started getting listened to when the Bosses realised they knew all about Flood Prone areas. Maps were viewed and scary discussions started. Maps were updated. Landscape Architects were finally asked some questions by the Boss like – “how many those trees we gonna get in this Year?” Me- “plenty Boss“, and we did! At Hobart City Council we were doing much native plant re-vegetation and restoration of long term heavy duty weeds infestations on Hills face zones (staff got seriously fit on those Jobs), installing Main Street Long Term Tree Canopies and generally Greening up Hobart. This early boss was always straight to the point, but not demanding. He knew the message which was very simple – Plant more Trees and Green stuff.
Funding was very good in those days. Hobart City Councilors had a Green tinge with long term Council Conservative reps coming on board to a simple message – plant more trees because they help our personal Climate. More trees were and still are part of Local Council Budgets. Budgets never had to be huge and the Science was simple – Put plant in Ground, add water as required to maintain healthy growth. Cost? So tiny. Never before seen terms and words appeared on monthly and annual Financial reports including 10 Year Tree Strategy, 5 Year Re-Vegetation and restoration Program, Biodiversity Action framework and River restoration. United Nations Association (Aus) combined with the Nursery Industry Association (Aus) and launched “Greening Australia”. Federal Government hopped on the bandwagon with ‘Green’ Grants. “Greening Australia” linked Communities, Government and Field Science together in networks that exist until today. Fantastic organisation!
Demand for related Natural Science disciplines skyrocketed! A Gazzillion(that is a real lot you know!) amount of attention was being paid to those now cobwebbed and Dusty NFA Reports. Funding streams started appearing and growing. Industry like Shell, BP and DuPont were employing. Much Disaster Mapping was done in earnest and continues today. The 1980’s maps were not far off the refined mapping of today. Big Corporates started doing numbers on Catastrophe outcomes with Actuary’s getting really busy.
If lucky as I was, you might just get to meet and chat with an Actuary. Actuary’s are Fact based future gazers with some solid (but weird to me) Mathematics behind their calculations of Climate change impact scenarios. Actuary’s with an Environmental considered mind are always a pleasure but a bit scary to talk to. Best place to view activities and movement of an Actuary? Look to Global Insurers and Strategic Think Tanks. You might just spot these valuable, rare but not endangered human species. No they do not do autographs! I digress, now back to the topic at hand….
‘Green Parties’ were now having influence on Voting patterns in parliaments. Greenhouse Gases, general pollution and the environment were finally being discussed on the floors of Parliaments. Clean Air and Water Acts exploded through many Nations. Governments and Industry received solid and scary advice from their Insurers that Global Warming and Doom scenarios would not go away politically or in reality. Industry had to clean up their Polluting ways. They had no choice. Government now had proper rules and regulations in place with staff that were happy to see the Law imposed. Many Activists had been doing their own quiet research on many Industry players over some years and fed this crucial information back via Politicians, Communities and News outlets. The Gloves were off with this new and truthful Confidence.
Cleaner rivers, re-invigorated forests and much improved Community health were the result of this now formal concerted push by everyone to clean up our severely polluted Environment. Acid rain and the smog soup of 1960’s and 70’s all but disappeared. Aquatic life returned to previously polluted lakes and rivers. Drinking water contamination reduced. In 1993, Salmon were reported in the upper reaches of the Rhine River for the first time in over 70 years! The same reports were coming from most of the Developed Nations that aquatic river life returned. The Thames River in England was declared biologically Dead in 1957. With the formation of Environmental Protection Agencies in early 1990’s, pollution controls were introduced and policed resulting in the return of Dolphins and Seals. No one could remember the last time they were spotted and had to refer to History books. Wonderful. We had finally started doing proper care to our Human impacted and damaged Ecosystems.
Good New Days were disrupted for a while, when in 1985 someone usefully noticed that there was stuff all Atmospheric Ozone above Antarctica when there was supposed to be much more. Within two years the 1987 Montreal Protocol was signed by many Nations. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) were identified as the nasty culprit and quickly banned from use throughout the developed World. This was the Gas in refrigeration units. Industry found alternative less harmful Gases to refrigerate with. Only problem for Industry in these developed Countries was what to do with the now illegal surplus CFC refrigerators and similar white goods? Oh Great Idea! We will dump them for a real cheap price in Developing and Third world Nations. While Developed Nations literally stopped using CFC’s overnight, the Ozone depleting CFC curse ramped up in other places! Some people (Industry) never learn!
1994 had the lowest Atmospheric Ozone ever recorded. Sheep and other animals in highland areas of the Southern Hemisphere started going blind in great numbers. Local humans were suffering far more Cataracts and skin Cancers than in history. Running a landscape business in Tasmania for most of the 1990’s I can attest to the extra special ‘Sun Bite’ to the skin at Ground level. We slip, slopped, slapped and wore broad brimmed hats the entire time even when it was 10 degrees C. To this day Tasmanian sun fries just that little bit more than the rest of Australia, thanks to CFC’s and other Ozone destroying chemicals made by humans for humans.
In the meantime, Industry players were not happy with extra Regulation and pubic scrutiny. Much cost was associated with compliance to the new rules and regulations, Some went under, some reluctantly complied while others worked out ways to get around the new requirements. This issue of Global Warming via the invisible Gas – CO2 caused much grief as it threatened the very existence of fossil fuel based Industry. Industry and Government had been forced to react swiftly to Ozone depletion because of the visible Health impacts. Industry and Government were also finally forced to start fixing the visible deathly pollution of the Bad Old Days. Would they be as pro-active with the invisible CO2 issue or revert to type and come up with cunning ways to reduce their complicity in creating this scary Doomsday scenario in the first place?
3.2 Harbingers of Denial coming soon