So, I'm having a change of scene for a little while. Can you believe it, someone is paying me to travel to the other side of Australia and talk to people (or rather listen to them) about social issues for three weeks. So here I am in the beautiful Dampier Peninsula in the far north of Western Australia, where I've never been before.
Of course I'll have to work but since I've signed a confidentiality agreement I can't talk to you about that. Instead, I just thought I'd mention that Australia is an EXTREMELY BIG PLACE. In something like eight hours in the air we flew across over 5,000 km of territory. As I looked out of the window I saw huge swathes of bushland, mountains, desert, coastline, and very occasionally a little sign of human habitation - a long straight road, a town, a distant light.
Of course we so rarely see Australia this way because we are, naturally, always at the places where humans live. For a city-dweller like me, I am nearly always at the place where thousands of humans live. Every aspect of the landscape we pass through bears our none too subtle marks. We always see the world from our own point of view.
Yet from the air we can get a glimpse of this other Australia - the landscape where our marks are light or even non-existent, where we would be lost, swallowed up, to disappear unnoticed.
If (as seems quite possible) we manage to cause serious damage to this planet by burning fossil fuels and pouring other toxic substances into the atmosphere, it will certainly make a huge difference to the first Australia, the Australia of human habitation, the Australia on which our signature is already writ large and at times in very ugly handwriting. Most of all it will make a huge difference to us.
On the other hand, I kind of think that this other Australia would be little changed. Of course some species would suffer while others flourished, but the life of the continent, the colours, the contours, would be very little changed. We, after all, are so small, and the country is so big.