I looked out at the horizon of the Illawarra coast yesterday and just shook my head. As someone who has dedicated her career to protecting wildlife, it's been so painful to watch the debate about offshore wind in our community.
I've worked to protect wildlife in Australia all my life - from koalas in Queensland to bilbies in WA. But home in the Illawarra is where I've realised what, for me, is the real battle to protect nature.
I've come to understand the most significant thing I can do to protect the forests, the coastlines, the whales, the birds and our way of life is to bring people together to replace coal, oil and gas with renewable energy as fast as we can.
I have grave concerns that the only winners from conflict over renewable projects are the fossil fuel giants who extract coal and gas from the land and mega profits from us all. Coal and gas companies are actively campaigning to stop renewables.
It is sickening to see our natural environment used as a pawn in a cynical political game whose stakes are life and death.
Perversely, the welfare of whales is being weaponised in this war when it is fossil fuel induced climate change that poses the most significant risk to them, and indeed, us all.
The science is telling us that, done right, offshore wind developments need not affect whale migrations.
Climate change is the biggest threat to our whales, our marine life, our beaches.
We have a choice: Do we want the coal and gas companies to win? Do we want to face two out of three summers like 2019-2020? Do we want a future where nature disappears entirely?
There are always impacts that come with progress. I think most of us wouldn't want to see another tree chopped down if it could be avoided. But the reality is, if climate change were a bushfire, then its flames are licking at our doorstep.
When it comes to projects like offshore wind, special attention must be given to the migration routes, breeding grounds and foraging areas of wildlife.
We can create new clean technology jobs for local workers and we can be proud of continuing as an energy-producing region doing what we can to secure our future with a stable climate. That is the message we should be telling our political leaders loud and clear.
Australians are at our best when we come together to face adversity. We have an opportunity as a community to set the tone for the rest of the country: we want to see more renewable energy that has higher environmental and cultural standards and world-leading benefits for the local community like better jobs, training and infrastructure.
Nobody needs to be left behind by this proposal.
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