The Conversation: “Can we justify … botanic gardens in an age of climate change … ?”

Essay by Eric Worrall

How much do greens hate green spaces? If they’re not hacking down forests for renewables, they’re trying to turn the water off?

The public history, climate change present, and possible future of Australia’s botanic gardens

Published: April 28, 2023 6.17am AEST
Susan K Martin
Emeritus Professor in English, La Trobe University

Can we justify maintaining water-hungry botanic gardens in an age of climate change and rising water prices?

Perhaps such gardens are no longer suited to Australia’s changing climate – if they ever were.

It is easy to argue Australian botanic gardens are imperial remnants full of European plants, an increasingly uncomfortable reminder of British colonisation. 

Facing the climate emergency

Water for trees and decorative plants drawn from very different climates were always an issue for these gardens. 

As early as 1885, Richard Schomburgk in his role of director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens told Nature about the drought affecting that city and the drastic impact it was having “upon many of the trees and shrubs in the Botanic Garden, natives of cooler countries”.

Finally, we don’t need to rip out non-hardy introduced trees: climate change will progressively remove them for us.

Read more:

What’s next? Extinction Rebellion Australia, or one of the alphabet soup of radical green groups which have sprung up like toadstools, invading our beautiful garden spaces and wrecking them in the name of saving the planet?

The funny part of this climate rant is you could make a similar argument about universities. I mean, other than a handful of laboratory facilities or studies which require in person training, like physical fitness, what is the point of maintaining large lecture halls and gardens, when people could simply learn online from home, or visit factories or hospitals to complete practical units of their work? An awful lot of water and energy is wasted maintaining the beautiful green spaces and large lecture halls and offices most universities host.

I’m not actually suggesting universities should be closed, I think the entire premise is nonsense. But if someone wants to class water and energy use as paramount considerations, logical consistency demands that universities with their heated halls and well maintained garden spaces should be high on the list of facilities which need to be reviewed.

Why aren’t students protesting and demanding their own universities practice what they preach, live by the green ideals they claim to uphold?

I doubt academics have even considered the possibility the rules they promote should be applied to them. I mean, look at the air miles academics clock up attending climate conferences, where one of the regular topics of conversation how to restrict ordinary people’s access to air travel.

via Watts Up With That?

May 1, 2023 at 12:52AM

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