Lecture Notes - Griffith University

Report
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
 Next writing workshop
The Australian Environment
 Very large continent: 7.6 million km2
 Diverse environment
 18 world heritage listed sites
 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”
(www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change.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
 2/3rds 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 22.7 million
 Expect 30 million by 2050 (Markus 2009:18)
 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 = extinct.
 88 = currently critically endangered
 1502 = endangered, vulnerable or conservation dependent
(Markus 2009:27).
Dwarf Emu, Kaka, Lesser Bilby, Tasmanian Tiger
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 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
6. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Australia has an increase in average temperatures of:
a. 0.3 degrees C
b. 0.8 degrees C
c. 0.12 degrees F
d. 2 degrees C
7. Australia's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are:
a. among the highest in the world
b. among the lowest in the world
c. the same as Norway’s
d. lower than most Asian countries
8. Which of the following forms of land use is responsible for most of the land clearing in
Australia?
a. Mining
b. Logging
c. Urbanisation
d. Agriculture
9. Which of the following activities is responsible for the most water use in Australia?
a. filling swimming pools
b. agriculture and animal farming
c. industry
d. watering gardens
10. Australia’s current population is 22.7 million. What is it expected to be by the year 2050?
a. 20 million
b. 25 million
c. 30 million
d. 35 million
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/abs@.nsf/mf/4613.

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