The bleak picture painted by the 2021 State of the Environment report is no surprise to anybody who has just lived through five years of parching drought, devastating bushfires and record breaking floods.
Given the country has also suffered from pestilence (in the form of COVID) and, amongst other things, a plague of mice and rats, the temptation to make a comparison with the Biblical plagues of Egypt or the four horsemen of the apocalypse is almost irresistible.
Australians, and the environment in which they live, have taken a hammering since the last report was handed down just over five years ago.
Tanya Plibersek was right to observe that it was little wonder her predecessor Sussan Ley decided not to release the report before the election.
It found Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent on earth - including eight species of wallaby alone. It also found that with more than 6.1 million hectares of forest cleared since 1990 almost half of the nation's landmass is now being used for grazing sheep and cattle
This, in conjunction with intensive cultivation techniques, has resulted in the third largest cumulative loss of organic soil carbon of any country behind only China and the United States.
The document also noted many of the worst changes have occurred in the five years to December 2021 with 202 animal and plant species declared threatened during this period. A total of 377 species of flora and fauna have been declared threatened since 2011.
Offshore the situation is just as dire with ocean acidification reaching a "tipping point" that is threatening juvenile coral.
According to the report the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, experienced mass bleaching events in 2016, 2017, 2020 and this year.
The nation is on the road to physical ruin and, unless governments and business find another way, the levels of prosperity and the standard of living people have become accustomed to will have a very limited lifespan.
We say governments because, while it is convenient for Ms Plibersek and her colleagues to blame everything that has gone wrong on almost a decade of LNP rule, the reality is state and territory governments have just as much responsibility - if not more - for this space as the Commonwealth.
While progress and investment have been used to justify some of the worst excesses of recent times, we don't live in an economy, we live in a society. That society is fundamentally influenced by what is happening to the environment.
While Ms Plibersek's commitment to doing more than the previous government, including protecting 30 per cent of Australia's land by 2030, is laudable, words alone won't save the day.
What does that mean exactly? How much will it cost? How is this to be paid for given the parlous state of the budget?
The same is true of the 43 per cent emissions target. Yes, it needs to be legislated. But where is the road map?
When Ms Plibersek was handed an opportunity to back in the ACT's push to ban fossil fuelled vehicles by 2035 at the National Press Club on Tuesday she didn't even damn it with faint praise.
Her response was to say the Albanese government would honour its election pledges to make EVs cheaper and to press ahead with the "hydrogen highway".
Are we to see a repeat of the last decade when, acting independently of the federal government, state and territory legislatures led the way on emissions reduction?
That is certainly not what people voted for just under two months ago on May 21.
They want action and they want it now.
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