The alternative state of Australia’s environment
Humane Society International (HSI) is today launching a new report, ‘The Australian State of the Environment Report, SoE 2006: The Real Story’.
Every 5 years, a committee appointed by the Federal Government oversees the production of the Australian State of the Environment (SoE) Report. These reports, based on data gathered and interpreted against environmental indictors, are intended to provide an accurate assessment of environmental trends, conditions and pressures affecting Australia’s landmass and surrounding seas.
However, reading the 2006 SoE Report alongside the data which provided its basis revealed the data was often used selectively, and the interpretations of many of the indicators were subjectively skewed. In response, HSI has reviewed the data and produced this alternative report that is genuinely data-based and describes the true state of Australia’s environment in 2006.
“Instead of using the background data to provide a truthful and contemporary picture of the Australian environment, we have found that a smoke-and-mirrors approach has been employed in the production of the 2006 SoE Report to very effectively mislead readers,” said HSI’s Program Manager Rebecca Keeble. “Most glaringly, the exclusion of key facts and findings has led to the omission of the full range of species known to be at risk of climate change, the increase in vegetation clearing rates since 2000, and the 4 billion birds, reptiles and mammals that have been killed by land clearing since 1972. Clearly these are facts of national significance that should at least be mentioned in an official report on Australia’s environment.”
Not only have key findings been omitted, but in many instances it is the twisted reporting of the information that is actually misleading. In one instance, the official SoE report finds in relation to Climate Change, that ‘Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions remain high, the growth in net emissions has reduced over the last five years, primarily due to reduced vegetation clearing.’ The alternate SoE report however shows that in actual fact, the data reveals that even though the overall rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions has slowed, the actual emissions continue to increase, and the rate of increase has increased across all sectors except land clearing.
“The official SoE report deliberately plays down issues of climate change, land clearing and loss of biodiversity, among others, by omitting the facts or twisting their interpretation, so it really isn’t an adequate indication of the state of Australia’s environment at all,” said Ms Keeble. “If these problems continue to be played down then how can the Government ensure that these issues will be adequately resourced and addressed in the future?”
Copies of ‘The Australian State if the Environment Report, SoE 2006: The Real Story’ can be obtained from the HSI website www.hsi.org.au, or by contacting the HSI office on 02 9973 1728.