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ARE HUMANS ALL THAT BAD?

 

Environmental pessimists don’t like economic growth, technological progress, high-yield agriculture or free market capitalism. Most of all, they don’t like people. Their literature oozes an anti-human bias. They blame the wholesale extinction of species, acid rain, the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and other impending disasters on human activity.

 

In recent years a lot of scientific data has amply demonstrated that natural processes have always had a far greater impact on the earth than any human activity. For instance, it is estimated that 99% of all extinctions took place during the evolutionary process before humans ever walked the earth. A single volcano can pour more acid rain into the atmosphere in one hour than humans can do in years. Or termites and microbes produce many times more greenhouse emissions than humans do by burning fossil fuel.

 

I remember sitting next to a wife and mother of a fairly conservative country family at a community consultative meeting. She said that all the doom and gloom about the human impact on the earth was causing her to dislike the human species. She resented people for breeding, building houses, driving cars, and consuming resources.

 

There is no doubt that the Tweed comes nearer to being a paradise on earth than most   places. It is only natural that those who live here want to keep it that way. The ones who have just arrived are often the first to start demanding, “Shut the door! The Tweed must be kept just as I found it.”

 

Who wants more people coming here when it is people who chop down trees to build houses, pave more roads and driveways for their polluting cars, and travel off to holiday destinations in noisy fuel-guzzling jets?  Of course trees had to be chopped down for our houses, roads had to be paved for our cars and we fly off in fuel-guzzling jets too when travel is important to us. Why are these things objectionable only when somebody else desires them?

 

It is clear from the local media that the Tweed has a well-organized group of eco-alarmists who keep up their dirge about the Tweed becoming over-developed. They infect others with their androphobia. “The last of the valley will soon be developed,” wails one resident. “The Tweed will soon be covered over with concrete at the rate things are going,” writes another. These myths have absolutely no basis in reality. 

 

Allowing for all the land to be developed in the Tweed over the next 30 years, people will use up a total of 7,000 hectares of urban space for their houses, streets, gardens, parks and playing fields. That represents only 6% of the Tweed. The National Parks and other environmentally protected areas have quarantined 32,000 hectares for our wildlife. That represents a whopping 25% of the Tweed. Along the Tweed Coastal strip - East of the new highway and south of the Tweed River – the amount of bushland set aside by National Park and environmental protected zones is much greater than the area set aside for all urban development. The anxiety about over-development, therefore, just feeds off an anti-people mythology that has no basis in fact.