By Susie Russell

September 1, 2013

The image of Nero fiddling while Rome burned comes to mind. Seven days out from the Federal election and so little discussion of what is at stake. The environment looks like being burned at the stake as part of Tony Abbott’s witch-hunt.

‘The greatest moral issue of our time’, climate change, is now a petty squabble over how much to pay the big polluters to keep polluting while Tony gathers his ‘green army’ to plant seedlings in a landscape parched by drought while the big trees that hold the key to ‘drought-proofing’ the water supplies of the coastal cities are targeted for more chopping. Yes Abbott plans to extend the logging licences indefinitely, and wants to replace export woodchipping with woodchipping to feed the power stations. Apparently even though it trashes forests that are complex ecosystems… it’s ‘renewable’.

However the organisations promoting genuine renewable energies are to be slashed and burned. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation have already been targeted.

Meanwhile the limited protection of the few fish lucky enough to live in a marine sanctuary is under threat, as Abbott and State Liberal governments remove protections and open up such areas to fishing.

But wait there’s more… mining is the bedrock of the economy. Nothing should stand in its way. Abbott plans to give the power to State governments to assess and approve all mining developments regardless of the impact on nationally significant environmental assets. That most of the material mined is being sold at rock bottom prices to overseas interests is of no matter. In fact Abbott hope to escalate the amount of mining and the infrastructure available to ship it offshore as soon as possible.

New coal ports planned for inside the Great Barrier Reef will be fast-tracked, with thousands of ships expected to remove millions upon millions of tonnes of coal, gas and ore to ensure that economies in Asia go gangbusters for a few more years until they go bust, along with the environment that supports them and us and life in general.

Coal seam gas, which threatens to drain the water tables on which agriculture depends and contaminate one of the world’s largest underground aquifers, the Great Artesian Basin, will be given government support. Laws to criminalise protests and protestors will be passed.

Forests will fall, rivers, aquifers and oceans will be contaminated, the Reef will wither from the death of a thousand shipping mishaps until the warm waters bleach the coral and the tropical fish swim aimlessly south hoping the legends of the Great Southern Reef are true.

But wait there’s more… Australia has lots of uranium. State Governments without pesky federal oversight will approve larger mines. Yes there will be lots of radioactive tailings and contaminated groundwater near the mines, but think of the electricity it can generate in the power stations of India and Indonesia, particularly the ones on the fault lines that are earthquake and tsunami prone.

Genetically engineered crops? Why they are the way of the future. That they need dozens more applications of herbicides such as Monsanto’s RoundUp, is good for business. How could we have growth if we weren’t selling things!

Yes, the future is rosy, that will be the beautiful sunset resulting from the smoke haze from the increased hazard reduction burns that go wrong as wild weather conditions turn them into towering infernos.

Anyone who suggests this is far-fetched is clearly barracking for the wrong colour. The future will be mainly brown, grey and khaki, probably with a few fluoro genes in there as markers. That it could have been green and blue and imbued with the brilliance of the rainbow will be a dream, a story, a fantasy. Something that might have been…