Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Caring for the environment - not

When it comes to things green and fluffy, I come down hard on the side of doing tangible things that yield worthwhile results for an unoutrageous cost. When I was a youngster, I took part in a tree planting program on Rottnest Island. The island, which is a favourite holiday destination for those living in Perth, had been pretty much denuded of trees by the time I was born. We didn't just plant the trees - we spent months growing them from seed, and we even spent time wandering around the bush collecting the seed.

I think I did it because it involved a free trip to Rottnest and a Saturday night getting on the turps - not bad when you are still a high school student. My two biggest memories of that weekend are of using wet-a-soil for the first time (it was a very new-fangled and completely unknown product back in the early 1980's) and running over a Quokka on my pushbike. I was returning from the pub with four cartons of beer and several bottles of port balanced on the handlebars when this suicidal little rodent ran out in front of me. I zigged, he zagged, and he went straight under the front wheel.

Understand that I was doing everything in my power to avoid the little bastard - the thought of smashing four cartons of beer into a million slivers of glass and foam was too awful to behold, especially since us poor students had pooled almost all our pocketmoney into buying that grog. If I busted that lot, there would be no more. So hitting the quokka was not deliberate, and the little bugger got up and ran away (limping slightly) after the wheel went over him. I weighed a lot less back then. If I ran one over today, his guts would have shot six feet out of his bum.

Oh, and if you think that binge drinking is a new thing, consider what it was like for 12 sixteen year olds to drink 4 cartons of Emu Export, plus several bottles of Tawny Port, plus the spirits that a few had managed to smuggle onto the island in their luggage. The adage "drink 'til you chuck" is one that I remember fondly.

Last time I looked (a few years ago), the trees had survived and were doing well. I guess a bushfire has since burnt them all to charcoal stumps.

Anyway - the environment.

This photo shows what one might call a "turd trap" on the canal that feeds into The Bay down Haberfield way. I call it a turd trap because it is a floating trap designed to catch all the crap that washes down the canal from points further west. (By crap, I mean plastic bags and other litter, not actual poo). As far as environmental measures go, I reckon its a beaut. We will be using our canoe on this body of water from now on, and I like to go paddling in water that is not full of shit - especially if there is a chance that I'll tip the bloody thing over. If I have to go swimming, I like to do so in a nice, clean environment.

There is just one flaw in this plan. The boom has broken loose from one shore, so it is no longer trapping anything. Crap is flowing down the canal and into The Bay.

It's been like this for a week or more, and no one seems to have noticed.

I'd prefer that we spent our time (and money) on things like this that deliver clear, noticeable benefits, rather than flim-flam like Earth Hour. I can tell when this thing is working - I stop the bike, look over the side of the bridge and take a gander at all the crap that has built up in the trap. I've even seen the little barge that they use to clean it turn up and empty it, and believe me, this thing catches a lot of crap.

This thing is worthwhile, it's beneficial and I presume it did not cost two arms and a leg. However, it also garners next to no publicity for those that built it and those who run it. They are the forgotten people. They are the unknowns who beaver away to give us a better world. Instead, publicity sluts like the WWF and the SMH run around boasting about what good work they are doing, when in reality, they are doing fuck all, except producing a lot of annoying hot air.

You want my respect? Try doing something worthwhile for once in your life, and then don't boast about it. If it's truly good, people will notice what you've done. Only utterly worthless things need a massive PR engine.

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