It is hard not to feel completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the East Coast floods and the terrible toll they have taken on the lives of both wild and domestic animals, plus of course people and the loss of livelihoods, homes and the inundation of so much native habitat.
Like the Black Summer bushfires, this is a moment in history that will test our nation and we will be judged by the world and future generations on how we respond to these personal tragedies and the environmental devastation.
I have lived in the flood prone Northern Rivers for nearly 30 years and, like most residents, I am proficient in flood prepping and following the Bureau of Meteorology’s warnings about flood water levels.
From what I’ve witnessed with my own eyes and from the survival stories of my friends, neighbours and posts on local Facebook groups, I can’t unsee the most terrible and frightening suffering of humans and animals.
Frail elders clinging to their rooftops – and worse – drowning with their beloved companion animals in their flooded homes. Horses and cows trapped behind barbed wire as the flood waters rise and then are swept into raging rivers filled with dangerous debris.
Survivors marooned on barren strips of land. Exhausted, torn, bleeding and emaciated, they wait in vain for food and vet care. Wildlife drowned in their burrows or unable to escape to higher ground without running the gauntlet of busy roads and human activity.
The 2017 flooding took even long-term locals by surprise in its speed and intensity and the town’s flood levee was breached for the first time since its construction. In less than five years it has happened again, but at flood levels well above anything experienced in 140 years of settlement.
Any talk of a one in a hundred, five hundred or a thousand years flood is utter nonsense and is designed to deflect any real and substantive examination of what we need to do along the entire East Coast of Australia to address the disastrous impacts of climate change.
The scientific consensus is now clear and unambiguous; the continued burning of fossil fuels, land-clearing to create pasture for methane-producing farmed animals and the resultant loss of forest and native vegetation cover is causing climate change.
The combination of greenhouse gases results in increased temperatures and for every one-degree Celsius temperature rise, the atmosphere holds 7% more water which results in storms of unprecedented intensity leading to the kind of destructive weather pattern we have witnessed in the last fortnight.
Surely it is the very definition of futility to continue on the same path that will bring more devastation and heartbreak. Funding higher levees and raising dam walls is part of that delusional futility – these engineered solutions are what led us to be brainwashed by the false belief that there are no costs to modern society’s determination to ‘conquer’ nature.
At the very least government must immediately cease the approval of housing developments along river valleys and flood plains. For areas with chronic flooding, removal of housing is the only viable option but this cannot be done without financial support to ensure people can afford to translocate.
The Animal Justice Party is the only party with the gumption to call out the profound changes in agriculture and land use that need to be made without delay if we want this country, its people and animals to survive and thrive into the 22nd century and beyond.
We need to phase out animal agriculture, on both environmental and moral grounds.
We can no longer countenance the burning and drowning of millions of cattle and sheep that die horrendous deaths in each bushfire and flood season.
Take down the barbed wire fences and rewild at least 30% of the land, so that wild animals have free passage and the soils are allowed to recover, with the expanding vegetation and trees taking up the carbon.
Support the transition to plant-based agriculture which can feed people at a fraction of the land use currently set aside for meat and dairy production.
Time for systemic change. Support our work: join the Animal Justice Party.
Animal Justice Party, President