It’s a Greta Christina invasion »« Our disgrace

Australia wants to murder cuttlefish!

This is tragic. A unique site where the giant cuttlefish migrates and breeds is under threat by the construction of a desalination plant that would render the local waters unsupportable to cuttlefish life. This must be stopped!

There is a petition: sign it.

(via Cuttlefish, of course)

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. says

    Some say that it needn’t be stopped:

    The submission calls for “real-time” monitoring of salt levels if the plant is approved for Point Lowly and rapid action if salt levels become too high for the cuttlefish.

    That, at the least.

    In the US it’s required that the saline water must be highly diluted, which means that most desalination plants are located next to power stations, which discharge huge amounts of water at least some distance into the ocean (wouldn’t work in most bays, though).

    Glen Davidson

  2. Shawn says

    As an Australian I have found that protesting won’t work. Not saying give up, just saying the bastards do what ever they want regardless of public outcry, particularly if a big business or foreign investor is involved. And when it comes to water, Australia is turning that into the new “Gold” and anything to do with screwing the population out of their money while supplying water is given the green light without much review.

  3. Guy says

    I grew up in Whyalla and spent several holidays at Point Lowly, a particularly beautiful spot if you like hot rough Australian outback coastlines. It seems pointless to put a desal plant there, we built a pipe line from Adelaide (the capital of South Australia) to Whyalla to supply fresh water many years ago i.e. when it was established (Whyalla is essentially in the middle of the outback (desert), even though on the coast, of SA which is the driest state in Australia. so it has no natural water supply).
    We have recently built a white elephant desal plant here in Adelaide with more than enough capacity to cater for Whyalla and the other needy over there. Just another stupid idea from some blowhard, we shouldn’t have built the plant in Adelaide for the same reasons PZ is espousing. We have a beautiful marine ecosystem in SA and we continually fuck it over.
    Glen, Point Lowly is in a peninsula so it is just like a huge bay. The “exhaust pipe” of the desal plant would have to be v-long indeed to cater. An issue that was pointed out, and ignored, at the time of construction of the Adelaide plant.

  4. says

    This is disgraceful, I know…

    PZ, When I first heard you’d be coming to Australia back before the first GAC in Melbourne, I had this pet notion that the cuttlefish mating would be an great event for people to drag you along to (timing being an issue of course). Still, it’s not the worst pet idea.

    The beach at Point Lowly, used to be a location where my father’s family would visit in the 1950s, so on top of the primary ecological concerns, I’m livid from cultural concerns as well (the two being intertwined somewhat).

    A lot of the political discussion surrounding the need for a de-sal plant in South Australia has been pretty misleading, focusing on giving pats on heads for people not watering their gardens. What is not discussed, is that industry (and agriculture) takes the lion’s share of our water use, and that Australian industry is pretty lax with its water usage. There are water savings to be made above and beyond people letting their lawns turn yellow.

    And this is before considering *where* to put a de-sal plant…

    Livid!

  5. marella says

    OMG that fucking desalination plant! What a white elephant that is turning out to be. Ironically it is costing twice as much as necessary in order to make sure it uses green energy and looks pretty on the landscape, but I guess whoever did the Ecological Impact study forgot about the ocean! Typical.

    Believe me there could hardly be more protest about that damn thing if every citizen of Victoria joined in, it is not popular. The destruction of cuttlefish habitat is not going make any difference to the powers that be however, it has already got to the point where it is cheaper to finish it than to cease construction.

    Poor cuttlefish. Sigh.

  6. quantum says

    Perhaps time the Australian public took more of an interest in their own ecology. Thank you for bringing this to our attention; until now this was not known as I had not seen it in any of the papers where I live. I will need to write to Aussie friends now and ask them what information they have received.

  7. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Signed, with a personal plea. I cannot bear the notion of the cuttlefish being threatened this way.

  8. marella says

    Note re previous post, I got carried away and failed to notice that this is a different desal plant, which makes the whole thing even more bizarre as the Victorian one is pretty much of a catastrophe and I would have thought the South Australians would have learnt from our mistakes! I will go sign the petition.

  9. Paul Durrant says

    Signed, after a small amount of background research.

    That gulf already has naturally slightly elevated salinity, which implies that the gulf really doesn’t have very good eater exchange with the bulk of the ocean. Adding in the output of a desalination plant into the gulf is just asking for trouble.

  10. Jess says

    My Mowgliesque husband informs me that the way in which cuttlefish breed means that one nasty interruption could be absolutely devastating to their numbers. I am South Australian, and have participated in a few protests this year (e.g. closing the state’s only specialist eating disorder ward, medical research funding cutbacks, etc) and despite the complete lack of actual results, I’d protest for the cuttlefishes too.
    This is what the locals think: http://www.whyalla.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/UniSA_survey_results_-_endorsed_by_task_force_-_20_11_08.pdf

  11. lofty says

    The South Australian state Premier is soon to retire after a number of ecologically disastrous developers’ wet dreams have been approved. Desal plants in sensitive environments, no problem. Wasting A1 agricultural land on housing, no problem. Turning a rare parcel of once wetland, used as a trotting track for decades, could be used for aquifer recharge wetlands, guess what, going for executive housing, no problems. Toxic factory sites used for a public park, while the perfectly good park next door is sold off for housing. His appointed successor said how such development decisions were wrong and would not happen under his term in office. Within a week he withdrew his statement, probably with fresh stab wounds in his back. Oh, yes, plenty of determined locals with frequent vocal rallies to protest every stupid decision, but of course “you can’t stand in the way of progress” especially if there’s a fast buck to be made. Basically this state is just being systematically strip mined to feed the chinese manufacturing boom. What cuttlefish? They might put a concrete “big cuttlefish” tourist attraction on the beach when they’re gone, if you’re lucky.

  12. Icaarus says

    To all the non aussies reading (PZ included). While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for the environment that Australia has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government. Therefore it is not your place to tell people to go sign a petition for which they may have no legal right to sign, or even if they have a legal right to sign, the petition’s outcome has no direct bearing on them. You have just committed the same preposterously overzealous statements that the NIMBY and NIABY groups are famous for.

    To the aussies, I hope that your government chooses to listen to your wishes and needs. I hope they act accordingly.

  13. Ing says

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for the environment that Australia has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    it’s part of our values to impose our values…so blow me.

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for human rights that Uganda has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    Another person who takes cultural relativism out of it’s purpose as a clinical tool and uses it as a justification for cowardice.

  14. says

    These cuttlefish are not Australian. They are part of our world’s heritage. I have just as much interest in seeing them preserved as an Australian should have in seeing the Yellowstone protected, or the Florida reefs, or the Southwest deserts…that is, a lot.

  15. Icaarus says

    Ing your comparison is absurd and here is why.

    Desalination plants supply water, thus increasing the quality of life, thus are not a human rights issue. Balancing the necessities of live (water) and environmental impacts has been viewed as a sovereign right of nations for as long as environmental issues were internationally discussed.

    The Uganda massacres were against human rights, rights of life, and were a product of past european involvement, thus europe was well within it’s right to make a claim of wrongdoing.

    My comment was not cowardice. I think calling out PZ on his blog openly and knowing I would receive ridicule would not be cowardly.

    @PZ, while I respect you as a scientist, your lack of regard for sovereignty of nations is uncomfortable. If you had kept your comments to “this is appalling” that would be fine but “There is a petition: sign it.” is a where you crossed the line.

    I repeat to all Australians, especially those affected. Here’s hoping that your government listens to your concerns before acting.

  16. Ing says

    Desalination plants supply water, thus increasing the quality of life, thus are not a human rights issue. Balancing the necessities of live (water) and environmental impacts has been viewed as a sovereign right of nations for as long as environmental issues were internationally discussed.

    The Uganda massacres were against human rights, rights of life, and were a product of past european involvement, thus europe was well within it’s right to make a claim of wrongdoing.

    Oh, so it’s CERTAIN values can be imposed but not others.

    You’re not a coward, just a hypocrite

    Oh but it’s because Europeans already f-ed up Uganda? Fine.

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for human rights that the Nazi party has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for human rights that The United States has shown over the past decade, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for human rights that China has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    While I do not agree with the flagrant disregard for gay rights that Kentucky has shown over the past couple of decades, it is not our place as out of staters to impose our values on their government.

  17. Icaarus says

    @Ing

    I am neither a hypocrite or coward. American pressure has forced my government to go against the wishes of my voting body and the best benefits of my country simply because they were american. There is a clear separation between support and sovereignty.

    All of your supporting quotes fall under the false analogy fallacy. Again human rights violations are of far greater international concern than local environment.

    Personally I have a problem with many issues (broad use of coal, flagrant disregard for environment) for which I do not advocate non-voting, non-member people protest. RESPECT people, RESPECT nations, and RESPECT their sovereignty. I have not insulted anyone here, nor made personal comments. You have (without evidence) called me a coward and a hypocrite. If I had more evidence I might call you a troll.

  18. says

    @Icaarus I’m not sure if you are just concern trolling here or what. I for one am willing to speak out against environmental crimes no matter where in the world they happen. By your logic, we should stop opposing Japanese whaling as it is a Japanese problem. A little closer to home, I for one welcome world support for our (Louisiana) problem of the vanishing coastline and wetlands.

    Petition signed and we need more signatures please!

  19. says

    Icaarus:

    it is not our place as foreigners to impose our values on their government.

    Oh? Goodness me, you’re stuffed full of shit. In case you haven’t noticed, environmental care is a global matter. What happens in one place affects things elsewhere on the planet. I’m afraid you don’t get to break up environmentalism into convenient bits.

    Therefore it is not your place to tell people to go sign a petition for which they may have no legal right to sign, or even if they have a legal right to sign, the petition’s outcome has no direct bearing on them.

    Therefore, you’re talking straight out of your ass, Cupcake. The petition does indeed accept global signatures, seeing as it’s a global concern. When petitions are restricted to a certain part of the world, they are set up in a specific way.

    Informing people there is a petition and saying “go sign” is not illegal, it’s not immoral and it’s most certainly not an act of force. I haven’t noticed squads of people showing up on doorsteps threatening to break arms if the petition isn’t signed.

    It’s thanks to Cupcakes such as yourself that too many people shrug their brains and say “eh, who gives a shit about cuttlefish, there are more important things!” Cuttlefish are important. Care of other species and the environments they live in are important.

    You sound like a dominionist, Cupcake. That’s not a good thing.

  20. Icaarus says

    @Earlycuyler

    Japanese whaling, if I remember correctly, affects species that migrate the globe, thus a direct action against them has a direct impact on the world’s fisheries. The Australian Giant Cuttlefish will only have a direct impact in Australian fisheries (indirect impacts are most likely far broader). As such, their stupidity is mostly their problem, Japan’s stupidity is mostly the world’s problem.

    For the Louisiana situation, you are asking for international support, therefore there is no violation of sovereignty. If PZ had stated “The Australian locals are asking support via signing ___” that would be perfectly okay. Instead he stated “Sign it”. A directive not a request. The directive had the tone of “We know better than them” which is the reason AMERICAN NIMBY and NIABY (American knows best) groups have stopped the progression of energy policies in Canada for the last 30 years. International propaganda is both the reason my politicians will not listen to me, and why I am still in school instead of working a real job. Respect a nation’s boundaries. Respect a democracy’s rights to determine what is best for its people. Respect a democracy’s choice to ask for help when it needs it.

    Please remember if you have a case for international environmental concern you can file a petition with your government to be made to Australia. Australians, if you want and need international support, ask UNEP for help, that’s what it’s there for.

  21. Icaarus says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal

    Dominionist?
    if you are using the definition of:
    Dominionism is a term used to describe the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States, with the goal of either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.

    Then take a flying leap. I have in no way used biblical arguments, nor have I used “Devine right of kings” or other such woo. I have said The people voting and living in the area are probably not stupid, nor lazy. They probably know how to change opinion and should be trusted to do the right thing.

    I will however give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that is not the definition you meant so if you instead meant:
    Anthropocentrism describes the tendency for human beings to regard themselves as the central and most significant entities in the universe, or the assessment of reality through an exclusively human perspective.
    Maybe, but Australia has been undergoing severe drought for the past 10 years, so a reasonable impact to the environment in trade for providing water to thousands or tens of thousands of people is a fair tradeoff. It is not our place to judge reasonable. It is however Australia’s responsibility to keep its citizens alive.

    and the last definition:
    Someone that supports a dominion (old term for commonwealth nation based on pre WW2 political structures) sovereignty over the Queen and her interests
    Hell Yes.

  22. Ing says

    Carlie means that she thinks you believe humans have an intrinsic right to alter their immediate environment anyway they see fit. In some ways this is correct as rights are a human invention, but most of the people doing this seem to actually promote reckless destruction just to show up those tree huggers.

  23. Ing says

    Someone that supports a dominion (old term for commonwealth nation based on pre WW2 political structures) sovereignty over the Queen and her interests

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. We’re doing the equivalent of challenging an assertion.

  24. Ing says

    All of your supporting quotes fall under the false analogy fallacy. Again human rights violations are of far greater international concern than local environment.

    Again like I said you are hypocritical. You RESPECT their sovereignty…until it affects you.

  25. Icaarus says

    If you carefully read my last post you will see that I was first setting up each possible definition of the word Dominionist, then answering each possible definition so as to refute Caine, Fleur du Mal’s intent without assuming Caine, Fleur du Mal’s intent. The definitions were in order of most common for the word and were in no way meant to convey any meaning or presumption.

    PZ was telling, not asking, which is a type of force. Peer Pressure.

    Ing, I do this rarely, but your comments are trying to set me up as a straw man, you are pretending to be able to read my mind (and others, let Caine, Fleur du Mal explain his/her intent of Dominionist), you are equating my support for respect and careful phrasing as a lack of support for the intent of PZ’s original post. You are also personally attacking me. I am trying to decide if you are a troll or a poe. Either way you have gained my ire and I will no longer respond to your posts.

  26. Tim DeLaney says

    Icaarus:

    Your insistence that national sovereignty must be respected is just hogwash. When it comes to sovereignty, that principle only operates when a nation is willing to enforce it at the point of a gun. IOW, the sovereignty argument, when reduced to its basic form, is: “Might is right.”

    Since we don’t start wars in order to save cuttlefish habitat, the sovereignty of Australia is not at issue. Bringing that topic up is irrelevant; you should drop it.

    The survival of an important species is surely worth the trouble (little as it is) of expressing our opinions. PZ has not “crossed the line” as you suggest. He has expressed an opinion, and suggested that others might want to do the same. Since when is the peacable expression of one’s opinion unacceptable? Have you read the First Amendment to our (USA) Constitution?

    [PETITION SIGNED]

  27. Tim DeLaney says

    ,blockquote>PZ was telling, not asking, which is a type of force. Peer Pressure.

    What bollocks! You should be ashamed to make such a ridiculous argument.

  28. Tim DeLaney says

    Correction: (I am such a dunce to omit a preview–even just this once.)

    PZ was telling, not asking, which is a type of force. Peer Pressure.

    What bollocks! You should be ashamed to make such a ridiculous argument.

  29. AmandaS says

    If it helps make decisions about national sovereignty and free will easier (not that I understand where they come in) the plant IS NOT for urban drinking water. The plant is going where it is (and guaranteeing the extinction of a unique species that had an unexpected plummet in numbers this year as it is) because it is the cheap option for BHP Billiton to get masses of fresh water so they can expand their truly epic Olympic Dam mine. Olympic Dam produces copper, iron, uranium, gold and silver and is an environmental stain upon the area and the world.

    BHP Billiton recently announced a $23-odd BILLION profit. It might cost them an extra $100 Million to move the plant somewhere less environmentally harmful (and state and federal governments have already pledged to subsidise the cost of building the plant to a value higher than its cost (ie BHP is getting the plant for free courtesy of the Australian taxpayer).

    BHP can move their fucking plant.

    Please sign the petition, wherever you are. Because the loss of the utterly magnificent Giant Cuttlefish will diminish us all.

  30. Holms says

    Say what you will about Icaarus, at least he didn’t Godwin it up.

    As a South Australian, I find the desal plant to have deeper problems, the ecological angle is just another in a long line of idiotic policy from the thankfully outgoing premier.

  31. MadScientist says

    There is a water problem – in fact the problem (lack of potable water and water for irrigation) even predates Australian Federation. However, 3 generations ago people built dams (and there were a lot of protests back then too). Although quite a few more dams can be built (and some dams can be enlarged), politicians have got no sense and would rather build desalination plants because the environmental damage caused by dams is political poison. The solution: desalination plants which will screw up the marine environment instead. Nor can I imagine desalination plants meeting the projected shortfall of water. In the long term desalination plants in Australia (except perhaps parts of the south-west coast) make no economic sense.

  32. says

    It’s sad that the cuttlefish might be harmed. I hope they reassess plant processes. But that part of Australia has NO water. None. They are not building a desalination plant because its nice to have. Good luck trying to get humans to move out of the area to save cuttlefish.

  33. lofty says

    Icaarus, please, if it takes international pressure to stop environmental vandalism by a multinational mining company, then it should be done. That desal plant is IN THE WRONG PLACE and not required by the locals.
    PZ, does your nice president have any spare gunboats?, You could anchor one off Point Lowly and threaten to shoot anyone harming the cuttlefish. That’s how political pressure works, isn’t it?

  34. Icaarus says

    To all the people who have attacked my point of view 2 comments:
    1) Monika and AmandaS just proved my point. When locals cannot agree why should outsiders claim a right to step in on internal matters of water.
    2) it sounds like either the water is needed for the locals, that there is grounds for injunction against BHP, or some combination in between. Either way, it’s a local matter that will be dealt with with local pressure. Let Australians deal with it, help only when directly asked.

  35. Robbie says

    I live in Adelaide about 5 hours away from the site of the (now approved) desal plant. I have learned much about this through my environmental science course at uni and I have to say it’s just terrible. The thing is that Australia isn’t run by the government anymore, it’s run by mining companies – they’re what keep australia afloat. Problem is that they also keep themselves afloat extremely well. The amount of environmental legislations that have been changed just so GHP can have its way in building this desal plant is sickening. I believe that the maority of people, especially locals are dead set against the constriction of this plant and someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do when the cuttlefish don’t rock up for breeding season a few years down the track :(