The Current – Environmental Condition in Oz

There is hope (Source: Darren England/AAP)

It’s easy to lose sight of all the old issues we used to pay so much attention to before COVID-19 became a primary focus for most of us. But while we were madly trying to find stashes of toilet paper and pasta, Australia’s natural world has continued its struggle to thrive against the odds.

So a few things for all of us to pay attention to while we continue to hunt for toilet paper:

One of Australia’s major environmental scorecards (the Environmental Condition Score prepared by ANU) and associated report for 2019 makes for grim reading. The assessment analyses seven indicators (high temperatures, river flows, wetlands, soil health, vegetation condition, growth conditions and tree cover) because they can be compared to previous years.

It essentially demonstrates the worst environmental conditions on a national scale in many decades, perhaps centuries, and confirms the devastation of climate change and the lack of management to reverse its effects. It also provides regional analysis showing an Environmental Condition Score (ECS) between 0-2 over the majority of WA, with decreases in ECS in most regions since 2018 (you can also check out the score for your own local government HERE).

Regional ECS in WA and adjacent – makes from grim reading indeed (Source: ANU College of Science, 2020)

In addition to that upsetting news, other news you may have missed is that there was a heatwave in Antarctica where a new maximum record of 18.4 degC was set in February this year in its very north, beating the old record by 1 degC.

The Great Barrier Reef has also just experienced its third mass bleaching event in 2020, in five years, with the bleaching occurring all the way in the south of the reef in all three regions for the first time. The 5-year outlook was just downgraded from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’, and the IPCC has warned a global average temperature rise of 1.5 deg C could wipe out 90% of the world’s coral.

It’s happened again: Mass coral bleaching (Source: Australian Academy of Sciences)

It is information such as this which should push us to start thinking about the kind of immediate action we need in a post-COVID-19 world. As said previously, this incredibly upsetting situation we are in proves we can take immediate and large scale action where there is the will to do so – let us take heart in that given the difficult situation we all find ourselves in, some more tragic than others and not to be downplayed in any way.

Alex happy in his PPE amongst the river gums and leaches

On a side note – Urbaqua has changed the name of its blog from ‘The Essential Current’ to ‘The Current’ and is still operating business as usual. So please get in touch with us if we can assist in any way in providing you with any urban water/environmental project-based services or advice. We are working from home (possibly in less formal than normal attire but no, not in pyjamas), and carrying on with our reports, meetings and field work as we always have.

Finally, Happy Easter from Urbaqua everyone – it’s going to be a toasty one – if it’s even possible to recognise Easter this year as it blends into working from home without family and friends for many (a serious chocolate rush is recommended to brighten your mood). Take care!

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