Water & the Great Artesian Basin

Below is one of my main contributions to Reporting Australia. Unlike most study abroad programs, we didn’t actually go to class. Rather, we went on different excursions in which local eco/nature guides enriched our stay with environmental knowledge.

Beside blogging, our major project was the Reporting Australia website. Each group, relative to location (Great Barrier Reef, Rainforest & Outback), was required to produce journalistic content and post it to the site. In addition to creating the following info graphic & accompanying audio clip, I was the Carnarvon group’s webmaster – in charge of uploading our content (and making our page pretty).

The best ways to observe the following is to start the audio clip and click on the graphic to enlarge or navigate to the Carnarvon webpage (which I recommend).


 

GAB Graphic

Money/Wellbeing in the Australian Outback

Welp, my study abroad experience has officially come to an end. DON’T FRET – I still have three required blogs to crank out, all of which pertain to my AUS experience. Also, I must figure out what I’ll do with this blog after I return home in two days (p.s. I’m home now and am just getting around to publish this).

This post highlights an idea brought up by Simon Ling, Reporting Australia’s guide at Carnarvon Gorge, regarding money/wellbeing.

Info Graphic Inspiration

One of the gorge’s many creeks, fed by the Great Artesian Basin

I encourage you to check out my post covering basics of the gorge. Being part of the Carnarvon group – in charge of producing journalistic content on Carnarvon for Reporting Australia, I worked hard getting to know the place before I left the States.

So back to the idea – Our last hike at the gorge, which was a solid nine hours, took us to a handful of geological destinations around Carnarvon – the most significant (imo) being the Art Gallery.

Art

Art Gallery is a slight misnomer. Rather, what you see are symbols, which played vital roles in Aboriginal ceremonies

Within the first hour or so of the hike, Simon stopped us by a tree to explain its species’ relationship with Aboriginals. Turns out, Aboriginals consumed its fruit/seed as a contraceptive method.

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Tbh I forgot the name of the tree – Photo cred: Rachel Robillard

Simon, while explaining just how efficiently Aboriginals lived among their environment, then asked us how we would feel if America imposed a limit on the number of children we could have (similar to China’s policy). I forgot how exactly, but a few students found themselves in a somewhat heated debate regarding those of low socioeconomic status, race & politics in America…in the middle of a hike in the outback, in front of the rest of us & Simon.

Art Gallery Hands edit

Without spending too much time addressing it, I didn’t think the debate itself was too significant/important. Here, I’m just referring to the actual debate, not the low socioeconomic status, race & politics aspects.

Soon after everyone calmed down, Simon continued talking – now about socioeconomic status. He cited a study that concluded: After reaching a household income of $74,000 (I think), a four-person American family’s wellbeing is capped – As in, that family’s wellbeing is expected to increase as its income does, until the wellbeing maxes out at a $74,000 income.

On a personal note, Simon mentioned he lives below Australia’s official poverty line and has a fairly high wellbeing – which I can vouch for.

What Simon said (LOL Simon says) about income/wellbeing is one of the most-impacting lessons I’ve taken from Reporting Australia. It’s not something that instantaneously clicked within me either. Rather, Simon’s words complimented something I’ve learned during my entire experience abroad (Reporting Australia & my travels in NZ prior).

What I’m talking about here frankly has to do with money. Money and what it really means.

Growing up in a working-class American family, I always imagined I was supposed to grow up to go to college in order to get a job so that I could work my way up the job ladder to become successful in terms of money & status.

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And no, it’s not that my parents explicitly taught me to imagine life like that. I think it has more to do with the cultural/social climate I was exposed to, growing up. Money is highly valued everywhere; but I’d argue America is one of the places it’s valued the most.

For me, I think pop culture was the main influence on why I thought I needed to be successful in a material sense. Media pertaining to music, film, TV lays heavy value on wealth. It’s extremely easy to grow up, thinking that’s what should make you happy.

Due to things I’ve discovered throughout this experience abroad, I’ve realized just how much I don’t want money to own me. I acknowledge, of course, money is essential and unfortunately will dictate decisions I’ll make throughout life.

I guess what I’ve really come to *cents* with is that I’ll make money to live, but not live to make money.


K last thing, I promise

Since processing this revelation – which seems so basic now that I’ve been writing about it for so long, throughout the trip, I’ve developed this new aspirational thought.

My experience with the Great Barrier Reef, while staying on Lady Elliot Island, showed me just how much I love scuba. Especially after my dive, which was on the second-to-last day on the island, I began seriously imagining a future in the scuba industry.

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I’m on the right, attempting to have a convo under the sea – Photo cred: Rachel Robillard

I started picturing myself working as a dive master/instructor somewhere in paradise, and being completely happy.

I think everyone has similar thoughts at times – desiring to live a simpler life in paradise; though for me, this scuba thought is still tickling my fancy and making me really consider it. Perhaps since I’ve been super exposed to these ideas regarding income/wellbeing, I’ll start to take dreams like this more seriously.

Climate Change & The Media

This assignment had me analyze coverage two media outlets gave a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report was accepted by the panel March 30, 2014.

Specifically, we’re dealing with IPCC’s Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. It consists of two documents: The Final Published ReportSummary for Policymakers, the latter baring more significance to the layperson in terms of clarity & understanding. Luckily for laypeople like me, a press release & video compliment the report.

Press release – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Working Group II video 

From the press release, I gather the report is similar to many publications we see today regarding climate change – Nothing I read/saw I would call groundbreaking; but perhaps I’m so saturated in climate change science, every revelation/claim seems hyper-realistic.

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This unimpressed kangaroo is judging me for just saying that.

This report in particular focuses on risk in relation to climate change. Here’s what I found significant from the press release & vid:

  • Those living in poverty, especially in the Third World, are more susceptible to the risks of climate change due to their lack of resources.
  • The sooner we implement solutions, the less likely we’ll experience severe risk – Common sense but useful in developing optimism
  • I enjoyed seeing solution efforts implemented, especially the reforestation of South Africa by the local community.
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A reforestation project aiming to offset aprox 50,000 tons CO2 was established in Buffesldraai Regional Landfill Site (Buffesldraii Community Reforestation Proj)

Reforestation Project – Buffelsdraai Community 


The Media

We were to evaluate a New York Time’s article and an NBC News special on their coverage of the above report.

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come – NYT article, published 31 March 2014

Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home? – NBC News special, published 7 April 2014

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Before I evaluate either source, I’d like to direct you to one of the other maymester students’ blog post touching on media coverage of climate change: Climate Change in the American Media, In a Nutshell

Analysis of the Two 

To start, these media sources are different in form – one is an article, and the other a video sequence (split into six, sevenish-minute segments).

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I thought the NBC special succeeded in portraying the big picture of current climate change findings/happenings. Ann Curry, NBC News reporter, spent a lot of time covering the connection of recent weather disasters, like the drought on the US’ West Coast & the long, harsh winter of 2013/14, with the occurrence of climate change. Is climate change causing these catastrophic events?, seemed to be one of the main questions during the special. From what I gathered, the most-acceptepted answer was, Probably but not we don’t know. The known, of course, includes the fact that Earth and oceans are warming and sea level is rising. The combined effect of the two may be a direct cause of all this severe weather.

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Dried mud flats in San Luis Resevoir near Los Banos, Calif.

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Snow & ice stall traffic in Atlanta on Jan 28, 2014

newyorktimes-logoUnlike the NBC special, Justin Gillis’ NYT article didn’t stray far from the IPCC report – not a bad thing whatsoever. Along with touching on recent severe weather and the vulnerability of the impoverished, he also cited the report’s claim that the effects of climate change may lead to violent conflict over land, water or other resources. IMO this theory is one of the scariest regarding effects of climate change.

Toward the end of the article, Gillis reveals that pressure from several wealthy countries, the US included, caused the IPCC to remove a portion of its report claiming that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change. That portion of the report is significant, Gillis says, because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September. The wealthy countries argue the $100 billion-figure is too high.

Sneaky, America. Very sneaky

Sneaky, America. Very sneaky


 In Relation to Australia 

What key points are most relevant to my Australian adventure?

The coverage, especially by the NBC special, of severe weather relating to drought is extremely relevant. Most of the Australian continent is already uninhabitable because a lack of inland water. Intensifying these already-dry conditions is a looming drought.

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A helicopter water bombs bushfires in southern Australia early 2014.

This isn’t recent but I had to share it:

After responding to a bushfire in early 2009, a firefighter holds a koala’s hand as he feeds her water. The video of the koala later named Sam went viral after being posted online.

 

What ideas occur to you for reporting on your Australian ecosystem?

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Carnarvon Gorge, Australia

My Australian ecosystem, in this case, is the Outback or bush – The students in my maymester were each assigned an ecosystem in which to lead journalistic coverage on. My group will be in charge when we’re at Carnarvon Gorge.

The use of videos & photos will obviously come in handy for coverage. Carnarvon is an oasis of the bush, so we could focus on comparing it to the dryer areas of the Outback. Perhaps if we found an odd dry patch at Carnarvon, we could somehow explain, with visuals, the patch may be the gorge’s new reality if drought continues. Interviews with experts on the region will also be useful. It would be effective to conduct an interview while walking through the bush. Doing so would not only make the interview more visually appealing, but also give more context.

Tbh though this will probs be me trying to conduct a smooth interview, scream and all: