Bleats

I'd Be Happier About Queensland Banning Plastic If They Weren't Building Adani

It sucks.

The war on plastics has ramped up over the last few years to the point where we’re now seeing bans on single use plastics become more and more common. Queensland has always copped a lot of jokes about being the a state that has to catch up to the rest of the country, but they’re very much on the forefront of this particular movement, and are looking to ban single use plastics state wide as early as next year. 

Queensland banned plastic shopping bags from stores in July 2018, but these new laws are looking to target plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and plastic plates. Later on they might even cover disposable coffee cups and those big, reusable plastic shopping bags. 

No more of this

The conversation about banning plastic straws has been particularly heated, with lots of people relying on plastic straws to eat, drink, and take medications. Before the Queensland government go ahead with the legislation, they’ve made a point of saying that they’re going to consult with a number of community groups, including people with disabilities. They’ll also work in exemptions to the law for people who need to use plastic straws. 

The original movement to ban the straws outright seemed to have forgotten that disabled people exist, so it’s good to see that that particular lesson has been learned. 

I haven’t been able to forget while reading these reports that Queensland is also the state that the Adani coal mine is in the process of being approved in. 

The mine is planning to take 12.5 billion litres of water from Queensland – a state in drought – but have somehow managed to avoid having to provide a full environmental impact statement. It means we don’t know the full extent of the damage the mine could create, but cutting a giant coal mine into the ground is never going to do good things. 

Banning single use plastics is a great move if the right considerations are taken, but it’s also not going to balance out a new coal mine by any stretch of the imagination. Individual action is important, but if the Queensland government wants to pretend that shifting all of the state’s environmental responsibility to the people will solve their problems, then they’re kidding themselves.

Facebook's Play At 'Spreading Festive Cheer' Has Backfired With Biosecurity Laws

Is sending politicians flowers ever a good idea though?

There are several reactions that people can have when receiving a bunch of flowers. Calling the cops isn’t usually one of them, but that’s where Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie went when he got a floral arrangement from Facebook sent to his office from Sydney.

In an interview, Wilkie said that the flowers “immediately sparked concerns about implications for the Tasmanian environment and the likelihood of it being a serious breach of Tasmania’s tough but entirely warranted biosecurity laws.”

“My office immediately contacted Biosecurity Tasmania who were very concerned that the arrangement had not been quarantine cleared and likely contained live seeds and the possibility of serious pests and diseases.”

According to Facebook, they sent all the Tasmanian federal MPs and Senators a bunch of flowers to “to spread some festive cheer.” A classic example of good intentions, terrible execution.

You hear that, Facebook? No illegal flowers needed.

The website for Tassie’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (aka the people in charge of what gets in and out of the state) says that they have some of the world’s toughest biosecurity requirements, so overall Zuckerberg (well, his underlings, but I like to think it was him) really did a great job of picking where to send their flowers.

People try and ship all sorts of things around the country without thinking about what will actually happen when their gift arrives.

There was that time that a South Australia tourism company decided to send a bunch of live goldfish to media organisations to promote themselves. Not only was this a terrible idea and a biosecurity nightmare, but when the fish got to their destinations they were… not… alive….

There was a similar situation when a PR company sent live butterflies to journalists. The exact same thing happened. Asia O’Hara should have learned from these people’s mistakes, but I digress.

This moment could have been avoided
(Credit: VH1)

And lest we forget, the most spectacular biosecurity breach in modern history: that time Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got a massive telling off from Barnaby Joyce for bringing their dogs into the country. Facebook sending flowers is amusing, but probably won’t end with Barnaby Joyce threatening to kill anything.

I live in hope that one day soon we’ll see Zuckerberg forced to film a video like this:

Just Cos The Arctic's Melting Doesn't Mean We Should Smash Ships Through It

The ice is in bad enough shape as it is

We all know climate change is a massive problem, and not many places are feeling the impacts quite like the Arctic. It’s warmed more than any other region on Earth, and is losing tons more ice in every summer melt than it should be. This is bad for everyone who wants to keep living on this planet, but in proof that humans will try and make money out of literally anything, shipping companies are wanting to change their Arctic shipping routes and bash those ships through the remaining ice.

Not good news

The arctic has been used as a shipping shortcut forever, but it’s only really useable during the summer months. These shorter routes can cut thousands of miles off the shipping journeys, which makes them the far cheaper option as far as the company is concerned. It’s pretty much impossible to get through during winter because of, you know, all the snow and ice. As the ice starts to melt though, these shipping routes are accessible for more and more of the year. 

Canada, who has huge lengths of coastline in the arctic, seems to be all for this. Their Trade Minister, Jim Carr, said that “ there is going to be trade routes and shipping routes that will, within a matter of a generation, probably available all year round”, and phrased this as an ~additional possibility~ for the future of the country. 

Smash, smash

Canada seems like a great country, it has a lot going for it. Bears, maple syrup, the same Prime Minister for several years, all that jazz. It’s also got 40% of its land mass within the arctic circle, so it should probably care a hell of a lot about keeping the arctic in the best shape it can be.

Smashing through the ice with a massive icebreaker ship is certainly not the worst environmental issue facing the arctic, but it definitely doesn’t help. The area has already lost 95% of its oldest and thickest ice, and what’s still there isn’t in the greatest shape.

We don’t need to change the current Arctic shipping routes, they’re working well as it is. And we certainly don’t need ships blasting through what’s left of the ice.

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