It has fascinating and largely unique wildlife that is loved by many but sufficiently cared for by very few.
In late 2019-early 2020 Australia was ravaged by fires that have been ranked as the worst ever anywhere, they killed over a billion animals and about 186,000 square kilometres was burned. The severity of the fires was undoubtedly linked to climate change. Yet also in 2020 the Australian government was ranked second last of 177 nations for climate action.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the biggest in the world, Australians are proud of it and it is our biggest tourist attraction but our huge and powerful coal mining businesses and gas miners are destroying it by adding to climate change, ocean acidification, ocean warming and sea level rise. The actions of Australia's federal government and several state governments are heavily involved in the destruction of the GBR through their support for coal mining and export, gas mining and export, and land clearing; many Australians are complicit through their selfishness and the great majority are simply apathetic, while a determined few are trying to save it.
Australia has huge renewable energy potential, probably more per-capita than any other OECD nation. Australia's energy future is plainly in renewables, but in 2021 the federal government is doing its best to increase fossil fuel mining and to slow renewable energy development. Tasmania was running on 100% renewable electricity and South Australia has moved from near zero renewable energy in 2004 to more than 60% in 2020/21.
In another contradiction all the state governments have ambitious renewable energy targets while the federal government can't see beyond fossil fuels.
The air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal, kills millions of people world-wide each year. Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter; it could be said that Australia's biggest export is greenhouse pollution and death.
In yet another contradiction in 2020 the federal Labor opposition and the NSW and Queensland state governments were at the same time pro-coal-mining and pro-renewable-energy!
Australia, being an island, is heavily reliant on the surrounding oceans. It has some of the best beaches in the world. Both oceans and beaches are threatened by plastic waste, yet Australians, per-capita, consume as much plastics as anyone and have made little effort to reduce that consumption.
A small group walked from Melbourne to Canberra to try to get action on climate in 2014
An example of a very few people who made an effort to encourage more responsibility from the Australian government and the apathetic masses.
Australia's scientists and scientific organisations are as good as any in the world, but a great many of our politicians and the general public are ignorant of science and what it is telling us.
Australia has a huge potential for the development of clean, renewable energy, at least as much potential as any nation on the planet, yet its major federal political parties are addicted to fossil fuels, especially obviously in the period of the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments (from 2013 to 2020 when I wrote this). While these Liberal/National coalition federal governments oppose renewable energy development and support the fossil fuel industry at every turn, in another contradiction the state governments, of both major parties, tend to be more progressive.
Australia has many people who are devoted to making our society more responsible and our way of life more sustainable. At the same time many of those in power, either in the federal parliament or the very wealthy or some in the media (particularly in the Murdoch-owned media) are trying to stop any move toward more environmental support. And again, the great majority are simply apathetic.
In Australia a very few people have enormous wealth while a great many struggle to put food on the table. The disparity of wealth in Australia is as great as anywhere in the world.
Many Australians work to care for the less fortunate and to improve our shared world, while many of those with the power to make change just look after themselves.
If you find an error on any of these pages you will be doing me a favour by pointing it out so that I can correct it. My aim is that everything that is not plainly an opinion should be true.
Permission to use the photos on these pages will probably be given on request, so long as I approve of the intended use.