5A3 ISSUES IN
AUSTRALIAN
ENVIRONMENT
Overview
Syllabus
• geographical issues affecting
Australian environments including:
• air quality
• coastal management
• land and water management
• spatial inequality
• urban growth and decline
• waste management
• describe each geographical issue in
relation to:
• its nature
• its impacts
• the responses by individuals,
groups and governments to the
issue
• outline how a range of
geographical issues are affecting
Australian environments
What is a
Geographical Issue?
• Geographical issues involve the
interaction of the physical and human
environments and have the following
aspects:
• A spatial dimension – where and why the issue
is occurring
• An ecological dimension – the way humans
interact with the physical and human
environment
• A particular scale – local, regional, state,
national or international
What's Involved?
• Geographical issues involve the
interaction of the physical and human
environments and have the following
aspects:
• Geographical processes – physical and human
forces operating to cause the issue
• Different perceptions – range of viewpoints or
opinions about the issue
• Different groups involved in the issue including
residents, communities, governments and
businesses
THE 6 GEOGRAPHICAL
ISSUES DEFINED
Air Quality
• Australians consistently rank air
pollution as a major environmental
concern.
• Is an important factor in the
quality of life in Australian cities.
• It affects the health of the
community
• Directly influences the
sustainability of our lifestyles and
production methods.
• The Australian Government
undertakes national action to
reduce emissions of major air
pollutants
• The cost of poor air quality in cities
is difficult to accurately measure
but has been linked to a number of
health problems.
• Two major pollutants are:
• Pollution from reliance on
motor vehicles.
• Pollution from industry.
• The National Pollutant Inventory
measures the amount of substances
released into the air and can be tracked
per suburb
• http://www.npi.gov.au/npidata/action/lo
ad/summaryresult/criteria/year/2011/destination/ALL/
postcode/2154/sourcetype/ALL/subthresholddata/Yes/substance-name/All
How Areas Are Divided
• National policies and programmes run by federal, state and local
governments relate largely to the reduction of emissions from
three sectors:
• Transport: National initiatives aim to reduce the impact of road transport
on environment quality, urban amenity and human health. People's travel
behaviour is also targeted, including promotion of bicycle use for short
journeys.
• Residential: such as heating with wood, back yard burning and domestic
appliances, are small but numerous, and as the National Pollutant
Inventory shows, can be significant sources of air pollutants. Another
emerging issue is indoor air quality.
• Industry: Emissions from larger industries are reported under the National
Pollutant Inventory and are subject to State/Territory control programmes.
Land And Water Management
• There have been significant changes to many of the natural
environments of Australia since European settlement in 1788.
• The biggest changes include:
• ✪ replacing native vegetation with crops and pastures
• ✪ grazing native grasslands
• ✪ altering the natural river systems for irrigation.
Coastal Management
• In comparison with many countries
of the world, Australia possesses
an enormous continuous coastline.
• Australia's coast including islands
stretches for about 60 000
kilometres and comprises over 10
000 separate beaches.
• About two-thirds of the population
live in the towns and cities that
have been built to take advantage
of the many benefits the coastline
brings.
The geographical
processes relevant to
coastal management
• Atmospheric processes –
• caused by such elements as temperature
change, storms and the force of the wind.
• Biotic processes –
• plant and animal life and the way they interact.
• Geomorphic processes –
• uplifting forces within the Earth’s crust, which
create sea cliffs or the forces of erosion and
deposition.
• Hydrologic processes –
• action of the waves, the tides and ocean
currents
Positive Impacts
• These changes have had impacts. Some of
the impacts have been positive.
• They have provided a rich farming landscape
that provides us with the food we eat, the
fibres we wear and the resources we build
with.
• They have also contributed to a strong and
wealthy economy and stable society.
Negative Impacts
• These costs include the land and water
management issues of:
• ✪ water use and irrigation
• ✪ pollution of waterways
• ✪ farming impacts on soil and water
quality
•
•
•
•
•
✪ catchment management
✪ mine-site rehabilitation
✪ salinity and erosion
✪ biodiversity
✪ river management.
The Consequences
• As a result, in 2001 about 10 per cent of
Australia’s natural environments was
assessed in the National Land and Water
Resources Audit as highly stressed.
• The factors that have been identified as
causing stress include:
• lack of native vegetation
• high levels of threatened ecosystems and
species
• high levels of dry land
• salinity
• weeds
• feral animals
Spatial Inequality
• The term is used to describe the relationship between where
people live and their standard of living
• For example not everyone in Australia has the same standard of
living.
• Some people drive imported luxury cars while others cannot afford a car
at all.
• Some have private health cover; others rely solely on the public health
system.
• There are groups in society that take overseas holidays every year and
those that never take a holiday.
• Some people live in suburbs or areas that are considered to be ‘rich’ while
others are ‘poor’
• By considering the spatial dimension, we are considering where and
why inequality exists in Australia.
Consequences of Spatial Inequality
• People experiencing poverty or inequality are excluded from full
involvement in their community and therefore from active
citizenship.
• They may be excluded because they can’t afford the right brand of
clothes, they don’t have access to a computer or they can’t afford
the price of a bus fare.
Urban Growth And Decline
• Australia is a highly urbanised country
with over 85 per cent of the people
living in cities and large towns.
• While the population of Australia as a
whole has grown steadily, most of the
growth has tended to be concentrated
in the large urban areas.
• In particular, the capital cities, and
urban areas surrounding them, have
experienced the highest rates of
growth in recent years.
• Many rural areas, by contrast, have
experienced little or no population
growth and some have actually
declined.
Consequences of Urban Growth
• Urban areas vary in the way people are concentrated living in relatively
small spaces.
• This concentration can be measured as population density. Some cities,
such as New York, Paris and Tokyo, have large numbers of people
occupying a relatively small land area because they have more high-rise
residential buildings.
• Australian cities have developed with relatively low population density.
• This is the result of the prevalence of single-storey dwellings, sometimes
referred to as bungalows. The city tends to expand outwards, taking up
more and more land for housing. The reasons for this are partly historical
and partly because of the greater availability of land in Australia.
• In cities in Asia and Europe, land is relatively scarce and this forces the
development of high-rise accommodation. High-rise blocks of apartments
are very common while single-storey bungalows are rare
Waste Management
• Waste is an issue that relates to
all areas of the environment.
• There is potential for
inappropriately disposed waste
to contaminate land and
groundwater with heavy metals
and other toxins
• There may be lacking some
government oversight of waste
management
• The release of methane and
other gases from decomposing
waste is also an issue as this
contributes to greenhouse gas
emissions and poor air quality.
• Non-biodegradable plastics are
also a concern as these persist in
the environment for many years
and can wash into oceans and
estuaries, harming marine and
bird life
Consequences of Waste Management
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•
•
•
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International evidence suggests that economic growth
contributes to growth in the amount of waste generated per
person (Productivity Commission 2006)
As the total volume of waste generated in Australia increases, so
does the importance of businesses that exist to extract and
recover materials from waste
Waste has social implications, especially for those who reside
near waste disposal sites.
Poorer health outcomes may be a concern for residents living
near waste disposal sites.
Also, proximity to disposal sites may reduce property prices and
income sources, which is also an issue affecting people's
wellbeing.
Civics and
Citizenship
• Once geographical knowledge and
management solutions about an issue are
developed it is important that this
knowledge is used effectively to promote
a more sustainable and equitable future
for all Australians.
• Civics involves the knowledge of effective
ways individuals, groups and governments
can influence the decision-making
processes about an issue.
• Citizenship involves action or exercising
your rights to influence the decisionmaking processes to ensure a fair and
sustainable outcome.
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Introduction & Overview of Australian Environmental Issues