Environmental Issues in Australia

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Environmental Issues
in Australia
By Leah Burns
Readings and Resources
 Markus, N. 2009 On Our Watch: The Race to
Save Australia’s Environment. Carlton:
Melbourne University Press.
 The Australian Government Department of
the Environment, Water, Heritage and the
Arts: http://www.environment.gov.au/
 Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia's
Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan
2010 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs
@.nsf/mf/4613.0/
Overview
 The Australian Environment
 Threats to the Environment
 Consequences of those Threats
 Exercise
 Ways of protecting the Environment
 Multiple Choice Questions
 Plan for tomorrow
The Australian Environment
 Very large continent: 7.6 million km2
 Diverse environment
 Endemic flora and fauna
 85% flowering plants, 84% mammals, 45% birds, and
89% fish
 Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any
country:
 755 species
 Driest habitable continent on earth
Australian
Fauna
Monotremes
- egg laying
mammals
Echidna
Threats to the Environment
Climate Change
 What is climate change?
“long-term changes in climate, including average
temperature and rainfall”
(http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climatechange.aspx)
 Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Australia
has an increase of 0.8 degrees C in average
temperatures
 The Kyoto Protocol
 Australia's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are
among the highest in the world
Land Clearing
 Farming
 Agriculture
 The major use of land in Australia – 60% or 454 million hectares
 Livestock (cattle and sheep)
 Mining
 0.02% of the land
 Logging
 Urbanisation
 Over 80% of Australians live in urban centres within 50km of the coast
and these areas make up only about 1% of the total land mass of
Australia.
Drought
 Water use
 ¾ water used by agricultural and pastoral sectors
(Markus 2009:21)
 The world’s driest continent
 Two thirds of the country is arid or semi-arid
and only partly habitable due to the lack of
permanent water
 Climate and annual rainfall are highly variable
 Only 6% of Australia’s land is classed as arable
Population
 Currently 22 million
 Expect 30 million by 2050
 Urbanisation (high density in coastal cities)
Consequences
 Pollution
 Soil Salinity
 17 million hectares in Australia will be at risk of serious
dryland salinity problems by 2050 (National Land and
Resources Audit)
 Loss of Biodiversity and Loss of Habitat
 Species Extinction
 Since European arrival 220 years ago, 104 plant and
animal species have become extinct. 88 are currently
critically endangered, and 1502 listed as endangered,
vulnerable or conservation dependent (Markus
2009:27).
Exercise
 Form groups based on the topic you have
chosen
 Discuss this topic, in the context of the
Australian Environment, in your group
 You will be asked to present your ideas
back to the class based on,
 Why your topic is the most important,
and
 How it should be protected
Ways of Protecting the
Environment
 Legislation
 Conservation
 E.g., protected areas
 Local and Global Initiatives
 E.g., indigenous knowledge
1. How many world heritage listed sites exist currently in Australia?
a. none
b. five
c. ten
d. eighteen
2. Australia has 755 species of what?
a. flowering plants
b. mammals
c. reptiles
d. birds
3. Which of the following is NOT true?
a. Australia is the largest country in the world
b. Australia is a very old continent
c. Australia is the driest habitable continent on earth
d. fire has been a major force in shaping Australia’s landscape
4. Which of the following species are monotremes?
a. kangaroo and emu
b. koala and possum
c. echidna and platypus
d. dingo and sugar glider
5. What is climate change?
a. global warming
b. long-term changes in climate, including average temperature and rainfall
c. the gradual increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature, due to greenhouse
gases
in the atmosphere.
d. a decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere
Stradbroke Island
 What to bring:
 Lunch is provided, but you may wish to
bring snacks.
 We will be outdoors all day. You MUST
wear a hat and sunscreen.
 Bathers – if you want to swim.
What to do:
 Be on Grey St in Southbank, outside QCA,
at 9am so you don’t miss the bus!
References
Australian Government Department of Climate Change and
Energy Efficiency 2010
http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change.aspx
Markus, N. 2009 On Our Watch: The Race to Save Australia’s
Environment. Carlton: Melbourne University Press.
The Australian Government Department of the
Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts:
http://www.environment.gov.au/
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia's Environment:
Issues and Trends, Jan
2010 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/46
13.0/
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