Enormous Enviro Win Down Under

(From left): Sea Shepherd’s Jeff Hansen, Mirning Elder Bunna Lawrie, The Wilderness Society’s Peter Owen and legendary conservationist Dr. Bob Brown.

On Tuesday, ecological warriors around the globe celebrated a huge win for nature, the whales, our planet and the children of Earth. British Petroleum (BP) announced its plan to abandon bringing a massive exploration rig into the Great Australian Bight to drill and extract 1.9 billion barrels of climate-altering fossil fuels. 

The Great Australian Bight is a priceless ecological jewel stocked with the largest remaining population of southern right whales on the planet. It is a biologically rich nursery grounds for critically endangered great white sharks, leatherback turtles, southern bluefin tuna, colossal blue whales and so many more unique marine species.

For three years, Peter Owen, director of the Wilderness Society South Australia, fought ceaselessly to bring attention to and to protect the pristine Great Australian Bight from oil and gas development. It has been a long, challenging and now rewarding campaign. 

In recognition for his outstanding service to nature, Dr. Bob Brown, chairman of the Bob Brown Foundation, announced Peter Owen as environmentalist of the year. 

The Bob Brown Foundation and Sea Shepherd Australia joined forces with the Wilderness Society and, in August, aboard Sea Shepherd’s flagship The Steve Irwin, brought international and domestic awareness to opulent biological diversity within the Great Australian Bight and the need to protect it from BP’s oil/gas plans. 

This is the most significant environmental win of the 21st century! It signifies massive energy changes ahead, which include keeping fossil fuels in the ground and under the seabed, and investing in green energies. Society has the technologies and monies to enable an immediate transition from subsidized, toxic fossil fuels to solar, wind and tidal power, but lacks the political will to break entirely free from the special interest groups influencing lawmakers, globally. 

The climate in crisis, wild weather and mounting insurance claims are all helping to turn the political tide in favor away from the forthcoming dystopia from rising sea level, crop failures, mega droughts, increased firestorms, prolonged heat waves, dying forests, polluted, overheated oceans missing 40 percent of phytoplankton, the basis of the entire marine ecosystem and an epic dying honeybee crisis.

Congratulations to my colleagues Peter Owen, Wilderness Society, Bunna Lawrie, Mirning Elder, Dr Bob Brown, Bob Brown Foundation, my friend Jeff Hansen, Managing Director Sea Shepherd Australia, and all the volunteers and supporters who made this enormous victory possible.

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s forthcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”