Sustainability: the 'new opium of the masses'
Yurrun.ga wetlands in Gumbaynggirr Country was devastated by mineral processing. The owners walked away leaving behind arsenic, cyanide and other poisons. This film shows a precious example of remediation that cost the taxpayer, but should be sustainable into the future. I undertake regular bird surveys to see how its new lease of life is working.
Approximately 85% of wetlands have been lost worldwide, and with climate change, many permanent wetlands are likely to become seasonal and the seasonal ephemeral. Natural environments are usually conserved for their beauty or spectacle, not for ecological reasons. Wetlands have been ignored though they are so important ecologically.
Philosopher Kohei Saito calls sustainable development goals, ‘the new opium of the masses. . . Buying eco bags and bottles without changing anything about the economic system masks the systemic problem and reduces everything to the responsibility of the individual, while obscuring the responsibility of corporations and politicians.’ (Interview, The Guardian, 9 Sep 2022)
We should all work toward a sustainable future. We can cycle and recycle, but the responsibility rests with politicians and the corporate world working economic systems for immediate gain. Their PR makes us feel guilty and inadequate in a high stakes game for our sustainable future.
Project Type:Documentary, Short
Runtime:4 minutes 52 seconds
Completion Date:May 5, 2023
Country of Origin:Australia
John Bennett is a poet, published worldwide, who has won major poetry prizes. He also writes essays on environmental issues and his PhD explored ecopoetics. He lives in New South Wales by the sea in a beautiful sub-tropical region of rivers and forests, and has become a visual artist, but one with text embedded in most of the work.
He gives talks at Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery and exhibited a multi-media presentation ‘First Light - from Eos to Helios’, Coffs Harbour Regional Galley, from July, 2017. A documentary on this project, ‘Poetry at first light’ was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot, February, 2016. He recently provided texts, photographs and videos for artists for the national ‘Overwintering’ project (migratory shorebirds) exhibited at Coffs Regional Gallery, summer 2019/2020.
Other screenings/exhibitions include: Biligan (commissioned), Bellingen TurtleFest, 2016; the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Blackheath, Oct 2013; Matilda St Gallery, Macksville, Sept 2012; Balmain Watch House, Syndey, Oct 2011; Sydney Writers Festival, 2010; Newtown Underground Film Festival, Sydney, 2010; and a multi-media installation, MacLeay Museum, University of Sydney, 2007.
His videos have also been published in the special 30th anniversary edition of Going Down Swinging; ekleksographia (USA); Poetry Australia and online.
He has won photographic competitions and his images are used by The Dept. of Primary Industries, News South Wales, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, local councils, tourist authorities, festivals and schools.
He was Artistic Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival for five years.
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