Tag Archives: Australia

Great Barrier Reef in Trouble


The Business Insider reported back in January of this year that the Great Barrier Reef has been opened to dumping of dredge waste inside protected national park areas of the Reef as well as a coal port expansion.

The Reef is already in poor health and faces many challenges. The additional stress of waste being added to the waters and then a coal port expansion on top of that risks major destruction for the animals and plants that depend on the Reef and its unique environment. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has tried to say that the waste dump and port expansion will not harm the Reef in any way:

According to GBRMPA, the dumping will not significantly affect the Reef.

“It’s important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” Dr Russell Reichelt, Authority Chairman, said in a news release. (Source: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5847/20140201/australian-government-approves-dumping-dredged-waste-great-barrier-reef-marine.htm)

However, this is a very short-term view, and disregards the fact that the Reef is in poor condition as it is. How anyone thinks dumping additional soil and silt into an already fragile environment will not have an impact is beyond logic. The expansion of the coal port also means an increase in shipping traffic along the Reef. The Reef is supposed to be protected, as it is listed as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO has made public statements that condemn the decision and has submitted a report to the World Heritage Committee stating the Reef could potentially be downgraded to a status of “In Danger”. UNESCO has also urged the government of Australia to reconsider. However, as of the time of this post, I have not been able to find any news articles that have the government’s response or any news of a change in the decision.

As if this weren’t enough to cause alarm, there is another project planned to take place in the same rough location. Australia also plans to build a huge natural gas export terminal at Abbot Point, which is in the same region as the coal port expansion project. The dredging for the natural gas terminal would amount to about 800,000 tonnes of dredging–an enormous amount that is certain to have an impact on the Reef and the ecosystem. They plan to dump all of that soil and silt onto land, which is better than dumping it elsewhere in the Reef, but also brings the risk of potential harm to areas on land, depending on where this dredged material is being dumped.

I urge everyone who believes in protecting the environment to take action. Speak out, either in person or online. Sign petitions if you’re able. Work spells, if that is what you do. Write to influential people and demand their action to protect valuable ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.

To sign petitions or contribute money to legal funds organized to fight these decisions, check out the following links: Save the Reef, Reef Fighting Fund through GetUp!, Fight for the Reef legal fund, Sounds for the Reef,

Additional news sources about the decision:
Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-31/australia-permits-coal-port-dredge-dumping-near-barrier-reef.html

RT News: http://rt.com/news/156100-unesco-barrier-reef-dumping/

 

Guest Post: Celebrating Samhain


Salutations, everyone! This is Soull Soothslayer, from the blog University Witch!

I’m here to give a little in terms to the upcoming Sabbat, Samhain! So! How will all of you be celebrating your Halloween? There are many ways to do it, from the mundane to the exceptionally witchy. It’s not too late to utilize them, either!

Below are a few ways you can get your Samhain on!

Go to a Haunted House. I did this when my friend Sakura from Australia came over to the US to visit my friends and me. We decided to go to a horror “theme park” of sorts, which had a multitude of different attractions to go through. It had been Lore’s first time at a haunted house, as well as Sakura’s, as they apparently don’t do that kind of thing in the land down under (though I assume it’s because the animals there are 100x more terrifying than anything a haunted house could cook up).

“What? No, they don't scare me, I find those in my bed all the time.”

Explore the Woods at Night. This could be potentially dangerous, but nevertheless a good time. Armed with a group of friends and some flashlights, you could be asking to go home about ten minutes in, or have a great time outside playing hide-and-seek and telling scary ghost stories. Also, this is just a pathway to being in your own personal horror movie if things go wrong. Speaking of which…

Watch Halloween-themed movies. This is a Halloween classic, which there is no shame in partaking in if you have a lack of anything better to do. This is perfectly fine during Halloween night while kids are out trick or treating (nothing like a perfectly timed knocking at the door while you’re on the edge of your seat), or later when the candy mongers have already gone home. Also, if horror movies are not your thing, watching fun movies like The Craft or The Covenant are always acceptable alternatives. In fact, University Witch has a list of movies that are relative to your witchy interests!

Take your siblings/kids trick-or-treating. While this could sound like a bore, this can actually benefit you in some way or another. There are some people that, while decorating, go all out and create a rather spooky atmosphere that no children dare approach. Teasing your sibling about it might lead to them sucking it up and approaching… only to watch their hilarious reactions when something pops up and actually scares them. It’s a great bonding experience, and you might be able to cajole some candy out of them for having walked with them through all the chills and horrors of the night (or get your parents to give you some).

“Go on now, it’s all just pretend!”

Throw a masquerade. Back in the day, masks were worn on Samhain in efforts to scare away the negative spirits from the new year, while simultaneously respecting the fallen lives of friends and loved ones. Who’s to say that there’s no reason to throw a masquerade, then? Masks always made everything fun, especially when paired with a good costume… sometimes you can hardly tell who is who! That’s half the fun!

Or someone else entirely may be under that mask...

Host a Samhain gathering. There are many ways to celebrate, but hosting a celebration at your house can be lots of fun. You can ask the invitees to bring some food along with them as well to stuff up the bulk of what you already have, so you don’t have to break the bank. You can do spell work, or even just sit around and talk about the things you’ve done throughout the year. Hey, and no one is saying costumes can’t be included!

Whether you celebrate Samhain or Halloween, whether you are a witch or a mundane, this holiday can turn into lots of fun for you and your friends. Neither mundane nor witch should forget that both sides have something to offer for the holiday.

Happy Halloween/Samhain!

Soull, the University Witch

 

Weekly Deity: Altjira


Altjira is an Australian deity of the Aranda tribe and others, which are located in the Northern Territory.  He is a major creator god.

Attributes

For some reason, Altjira is thought to have emu’s feet, for reasons unknown. Other attributes are not given.  However, native tribes of Australia did not have the same style of art or mythology that many Westerners are familiar with, and they may not have found the appearance of the gods important in their mythos.

Mythology

Altjira is a sky god.  He is the creator of the Earth and gave humans all that was needed to survive.  Altjira then retired to the sky and remained there once he’d finished creating things.  He is also the main god of the Dreamtime, also known as Alchera.  The Dreamtime, as far as I can understand, is sort of the framework of the cosmic universe, in which all humans exist eternally.  The Dreaming or Dreamtime existed before humans and exists after life, and holds the eternal parts of humans before the person is born and returns upon death.  It sounds like a more complicated version of heaven combined with the universe.  Anyway, Altjira is principal deity of the Dreamtime.

Altjira’s wife and children are said to have dog’s feet.

Light and Dark Sides

With so little information to go on about Altjira, it’s more difficult to get an idea of his personality.  However, I can say that as a sky god and principal god of the Dreamtime, he is probably considered a father-figure in the mythos.  He seems to be helpful to humans, because he is said to have given us all the things we need to survive–but he also seems a little uncaring, since he sort of dropped everything on us and then left for the sky.

As a creator god, he would be a deity of fertility, the earth, growth, and new things.  You could probably also associate inspiration and creativity with him as well, since those two things tend to go hand-in-hand with creation.

He doesn’t seem to be Dark, but given the lack of information, we can’t say so definitively.  But I think I would put him more on the Light side of the scale, along with most other creation gods.