“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir (1911).
The plight of Koalas in eastern Australia is highlighted by what at first glance appears to be a minor issue of a quarry expansion in a place called Brandy Hill at Seaham in NSW. A company, Hanson Cement (Heidelberg) has permission to level 50 hectares of bushland to allow for the mining of hard rock for road base, recycling concrete and the batching and delivery of new concrete.
The expansion of the Brandy Hill Quarry will allow production to increase from 700,000 tonnes of rock a year to 1.5 million tonnes, in order to meet the demands of the target market which is mainly the Sydney metropolitan area.
For the local Koalas, these 50 hectares represent an increasingly rare space for them to feed and breed. With pressure on policy makers to stop the Koala becoming “critically endangered”, especially so after the huge loss of this species during the summer bushfires of 2019-2020, this patch of remnant bush becomes critically important as a symbol of what humans will do from now on to prevent their extinction.
The residents of the area affected have tried to stop the expansion but their efforts to convince a Planning and Assessment Committee (PAC) of the NSW government that their amenity (mining impacts and truck movements) and biodiversity (many endangered species) would be negatively impacted have failed so far. The PAC decided that the State significant development outweighs all non-economic considerations flowing from the development.
Not deterred, the citizens of Seaham and surrounding areas have launched a last-minute plea for the Federal government, in the form of the Environment Minister, to stop the expansion. Today, at the time of writing, there are only 7 days left to get the Minister to change the PAC decision.
It seems unlikely that the Minister will change the decision as her government is pro-development and is actively supporting a fossil-fuel lead recovery from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and, is in the process of wanting to re-write national environmental legislation so as the eliminate ‘green tape’ and fast-track new development. The Minister needs pressure to be applied to the decision from all directions, including international interests.
The concrete/cement industry, world-wide, produces more than 4 billion tonnes of cement, accounting for approximately 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a sum larger than most individual countries.
Concrete is a symbol of the current form of development and is inherent in infrastructure. Globally, concrete is the foundation for most buildings, roads, sleepers and runways. Concrete is a symbol of what is causing global climate change.
With the 6th Great Extinction of biodiversity underway, we can now easily see that a German-based multinational concrete company is implicated in the destruction of Koalas and Koala habitat in Australia. It is also responsible, in large part, for global warming, that was a large factor in the wildfires that destroyed over 3 billion animals, including thousands of Koalas.
The Hanson Cement group is one of the largest cement/concrete companies in the world (the largest aggregate producer in the world) and must play its part, along with the fossil fuel industry, in preventing the further addition of greenhouse gases.
The remaining Koalas of Australia appeal to all who see this issue as one that needs global attention. To the people of Germany, in particular, Koalas seek their help in preventing their extinction.
We must all do our part in preventing the further ecocide of Koalas and the creation of a climate hostile to all human needs. If the world wants wild Koalas to continue to exist, the human demand for concrete and fossil fuels must be reduced, not expanded.