A friend and I went for a walk on a rainy day and discovered that the Cooks river had burst its banks. We couldn’t walk any further along this path without getting our feet wet. Does this flooding foreshadow global warming? Well, it does foreshadow what the river might look like in coming years if — when — sea levels rise, because this river leads to Botany Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It was possibly the freshwater stream that Captain Cook replenished supplies from in 1770. But it also shows us the past. The Cooks, like many Australian rivers, was once a wetlands rich in waterbirds and other wildlife that sustained the first people, in this case the Cadigal people, for millennia. The British colonisers, by various means, squeezed out/reduced/excised/ the original inhabitants. Subsequent generations have tamed and constrained the river, exploited and polluted it. Built factories along its edge and — to this day — let our plastic rubbish enter the stormwater that feeds it. But those who live beside the river love it. We walk, cycle, jog, picnic, play sport, bask in the sun along its edges. We birdwatch. Once out walking I met a man who told me he’d seen over 50 species of birds along just a short stretch of the river. We’ve even started to repair it. Although it won’t ever be what it was, enlightened folk are restoring elements of the wetland and trying to bring back a healthy river. Here’s just one example. http://youtu.be/bgRSi0burzQ Maybe we won’t turn back the seas, but our efforts to transform the river give me hope that humans are becoming smarter about caring for our world.