Australian Cyclists Party candidate and environmental educator, Arwen Birch was recently asked to comment on a range of issues including Transport, Health, Population, Natural Eco-Systems and Climate Change. Here’s Arwen’s comments:
I have a long history of involvement in environmental issues from protests to volunteer tree planting and weed removal. I am currently employed as a environmental educator and am passionate about what I teach.
I will share some of my views on the topics mentioned. These views are my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the entire Australian Cyclists Party.
Transport is the area of environmental planning I am most passionate about, hence my involvement in the Australian Cyclists Party. I am very concerned about the problems caused by cars and trucks including all those you have mentioned and I would like to see a decrease in their numbers on our roads. I am against the East West Link and would much prefer to see our transport dollar go towards public transport and bicycle infrastructure that gets people out of their car dependency and onto sustainable modes of transport. Once you decrease the spending on new road building and put it instead into wide inviting bike lanes and world-class public transport, people will make the shift. This has been achieved in many places around the world and I would love to see it happen here.
I would support initiatives that decrease wait times and improve access to our public health system. One of the things I would most like to do to prevent ill-health is to encourage people to use active forms of transport – the incidental and gentle exercise one gets from riding a bike to get to the shops, school and work dramatically decreases the risk of getting a wide range of our most common diseases.
I believe the best way to stabilise the population in any given location is to educate and empower women and aim for their equal status. That is why I donate to a charity that directly pays the school fees of girls in areas where families tend to only pay for their sons to attend. These regions tend to be the ones with the highest birthrates. I would also be supportive of government overseas aid programs that focus on the education and empowerment of women. Victoria has the lowest birth rate in Australia and is among the lowest in the world. Our population pressures are therefore immigration based. I believe we should show compassion to refugees who make up a small proportion of immigrants but that ideally our immigration policy needs to take into account our limited resources.
I believe humans are part of nature and that our survival is very much dependent on how well we integrate the principles of nature into our daily lives. I believe we need to protect natural ecosystems through national parks and a reduction of our consumption of products that require their destruction. I am not familiar with the weeds you have mentioned, however, I believe tackling weed infestation is important.
I believe climate change is the biggest issue facing humanity at the moment. I believe it is caused by the build up of carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and other practices such as the meat industry. There are many consequences – sea level rise, more extreme weather events etc. I think the biggest problem posed to humans is food security but that many other aspects such as species extinctions are also extremely concerning. I’d like to see all areas of government taking action to move away from practices that contribute to climate change such as subsidising old, inefficient coal-fired power stations and instead promoting renewables and, of course, changing our transport systems.