#1 By: Cory Doctorow, February 3rd, 2014 12:00
#2 By: euansmith, February 3rd, 2014 12:21
#3 By: Christopher Waldrop, February 3rd, 2014 12:55
Occasionally I hear a scientist say something to the effect that, if homo sapiens were to disappear entirely, the planet's ecological systems would carry on functioning. I forget the contexts in which this statement comes up, mainly because it always strikes me as silly to think of ourselves as stewards of the planet, or as some kind of driving force that keeps the natural world going. Our continued existence is only important to us.
What disturbs me is when I see people doing things that seem aimed at making sure we do disappear entirely. It won't be sudden, but a great number of us seem bent on poisoning the very systems we depend on to the point that the planet will no longer be able to sustain human life.
Whether this matters to you depends on how much of a misanthrope you are, but I keep thinking that if we're going to destroy ourselves the least we could do is not take down a lot of other species in the process.
#4 By: Angus M, February 3rd, 2014 13:20
A spokesman for the Australian government called the scientists' fears 'exaggerated', and said that leading bankers consulted by the government had confirmed that there would be little or no impact on the reef. "In an independent analysis carried out by the CEOs of multinational corporations and major donors to the Liberal Party, it was found that fragile corals actually flourish when buried in contaminated silt. In addition, many reef fish populations increased in both numbers and vitality when fed a steady diet of toxic mine tailings and other waste," he said.
When pressed to share details of the government study, the spokesman admitted that it had not actually been carried out, but if it was, these would undoubtedly be its findings. "The facts, I think, speak for themselves. And the facts are that there's a lot of money riding on this, and the fish can just go piss up a rope. If the Barrier Reef wants to have some say in the running of this country, it can do the same as any other Australian and lobby its elected representatives in Canberra. Or write us an enormous check. Whichever."
The Barrier Reef could not be reached for comment at press time, possibly because it was in the process of being buried under many thousands of tons of sludge.
#5 By: galaxies, February 3rd, 2014 13:34
point of clarity: "dredged sea bottom" = sand.
#6 By: bobo, February 3rd, 2014 13:48
Of course if I went there and threw my personal rubbish overboard or if my careless diving damaged something, I would be looking at a fine.
#7 By: Christopher Waldrop, February 3rd, 2014 14:17
And sand is made of the same material as the coral itself. This isn't all that different from parrot fish creating sand when they scrape down coral with their teeth. I'm surprised the Australian government hasn't offered a defense along those lines. They're not destroying coral. They're just moving coral's base material from one place to another.
Maybe they could even take a line from Nigel Tufnel, who defended the packaging of Spinal Tap's Break Like The Wind, saying it was "an ecological statement because our--at our insistence it comes in an extra-long CD box which means that there's just that much more cardboard for recycling."
#8 By: jbg, February 3rd, 2014 14:29
If only you had a point of clarity.
Dredged sea bottom = sand, clay, silt, accumulated debris and chemicals from the port.
The people doing the dredging have already acknowledged this fact and agreed to test a percentage of dredge spoil for toxins.
Further, it is the silt that is probably the most harmful (assuming as promised, chemical toxins are not dumped) as it travels easily in sea water and chokes out sunlight needed by coral and smothers coral polyps, as well as transports excessive nutrients which harm coral in a number of ways.
#9 By: Peter Harris, February 3rd, 2014 14:44
What a waste. They should dump that on Somerset to bring it back up above sea level.
Or just, you know... because Somerset is less valuable in general than the great barrier reef.
#10 By: James Penrose, February 3rd, 2014 15:12
With tens of millions of square miles of ocean to choose from, why the hell would they dump it in on and around something precious ans fragile?
The argument for it seems equivalent to saying "Humans produce feces, therefore we can safely dump thousands of tons of feces right next to this town with no ill consequences."
#11 By: euansmith, February 3rd, 2014 15:50
#12 By: kartwaffles, February 3rd, 2014 15:51
That's still approx. 50% under the annual volume mine tailings dumped underwater at Lihir, in PNG.
#13 By: chgoliz, February 3rd, 2014 15:56
This is why we can't have nice things.
#14 By: Tim, February 3rd, 2014 15:58
I wonder how long until it's just known as the "So-So Barrier Reef?"
#15 By: Marja Erwin, February 3rd, 2014 16:44
After seeing stories like this, I start to wonder...
Because scholars have been writing about the warming since the fifties, and scientists have been increasingly confident about the warming since the eighties, and the need to stop years ago since the nineties, yet so many institutions are hell-bent on worsening the warming and destroying the environment.
... there are people ignoring all the evidence and claiming global warming is a hoax. At this point, claiming it is a hoax contradicts decades of evidence, it is even less plausible than claiming it is a conspiracy to warm the planet for some reptilian overlords.
#16 By: Professor Dumb, February 3rd, 2014 17:08
There's an element of identity politics at work here: the previous government made environmental policies a large part of their platform, so the new guys have to do the opposite, even if it doesn't make sense.
#17 By: adonai, February 3rd, 2014 17:11
This is a government who decided that having a minister of science was too much hassle (and they might bring up things that aren't of short term economic benefit).
#18 By: Wrecksdart, February 3rd, 2014 18:09
Absolutely baffling. Why don't they just dump it in Yellowstone to put out all those little hot spots? Maybe an airdump over Everest would be the way to go--what Earth created, we made taller!
#19 By: Boundegar, February 3rd, 2014 19:36
Bad bad greedy government destroys precious natural treasure for no reason at all!
I wonder if maybe there's another side to this story? For example: "It's important to note the sea floor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds."
#20 By: Tennessee Waltz, February 3rd, 2014 20:30
I for one welcome our new reptilian over lords with renewed consumer enthusiasm.
I'll see myself out.
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