Tasmania, the island off of Australia, which is home to glorious forests, fabulous food and wine and, yes, that crazy Tasmanian Devil, is facing a tremendous fight to retain its pristine beauty. The Tamar Valley, located on the Northern Coast is the targeted site of a pulp mill proposed by Gunns, Tasmania’s largest company.
While the pulp mill has potentially positive attributes such as creating 1617 jobs and making 6.7 billion, the potentially negative results are startling. For instance, it is reported that the pulp mill will:
• Consume 5 million tons of Tasmanian forest a year
• Pollute the Tamar valley, contributing to deaths from lung disease
• Pump 30 billion liters of dioxin laden effluent into the Bass Strait, poisoning seafood and killing marine life in the Strait and up the Coast of Victoria
• Increase deaths from logging truck accidents
One man, Simeon Michaels, is trying to bring awareness to this development by paddling his kayak from Sydney to Tasmania. His journey began on January 2, 2007 and will continue for two months and encompass over 2,000 kilometers. Along the way he will be stopping to sleep at night and welcome other paddlers to join him for legs of the journey. All the while, bringing attention to the Pulp Mill Project and motivated others to ask the important questions involved in this project such as:
1. What is the cost of the mill to the rest of Tasmania’s Industries?
There are many people and industries that depend on the pristine air, water and image of the Tamar Valley for their livelihoods. Will fisherman, farmers, abalone divers, food and wine producers lose livelihoods as their air and water is polluted? What will be the net result for Tasmania’s economy? Is it true that the mill will be good for Tasmania’s economy, or might the mill be an economic as well as an environmental disaster?
2. Is there a better way?
There aren’t many places, which have the natural beauty and resources of the Tamar Valley. Instead of taking an industrial path, can the Tamar develop a high-value, high-margin, diversified economy? What wealth-generating possibilities do sustainable industries offer, and is there a way for the Tamar to generate equivalent wealth, but without the environmental destruction? In other words, does the Tamar really have to choose between environmental and economic gain, or can it have both?
We don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but we are determined to find out!
For more information on the pulp mill, Simeon’s Quest and to follow him on his journey go to http://www.paddlewithsim.com