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Environmental Issues In Australia: Is It Still Reversible


Task: Are Environmental Issues in Australia irreversible or can measures be taken to reverse the damage to the Australian environment?


Introduction: In the current scenario, the topic which prevails the highest significance among the global community is climate change. Suppose taken the particular scenario of Australia, the persistent droughts and the challenges because it has been the main highlight in the last two decades. The major cause of it could only be claimed on the drastic climate change in the global environment. After the introduction of the industrial revolution, there has been an evident impact on the environment at the global level by the persistent result of human activities. In the later decades, abrupt environmental issues in Australia and several catastrophic events were observed since the human activities have crossed the threshold of nature's boundaries. The abrupt change in the climate had observed to be happening when the level of the population had increased to an unprecedented level. It has become very hard to suffice the need of this humungous population without exploiting the natural resources or bringing any harm to the environment. As of 2020, the global population is 7 billion and expected to grow up to 9 billion by 2050.

The major environmentalists and other researchers have claimed it that the major changes in the ecosystem have happened because humans have tried to customize and modify the existing ecosystem as per their convenience. The indiscriminate use of natural resources and the unscientific disposal of waste have caused very detrimental impacts on the ecosystem. The gravest problem that the world is facing is now the availability of freshwater for the consumption of the existing population. This report on environmental issues in Australia is majorly aimed to list down the contemporary issues in the domestic environment of Australia. The dominant changes in the climate and the ecosystem of the Australian continent is elaborately discussed in the below section of this report on environmental issues in Australia.

An overview of environmental issues in Australia
If taken into account the geographical attributes of Australia, it is a humungous island situated at the southern end of the Pacific Ocean. If taken the land area as the parameter, it could be situated as the sixth largest country in the world. The majority of the population of Australia is permanently settled in the coastal areas of the country. The majority of the country comes under the division of desert with a semi-arid climate. If taken from the economic aspect of the global perspective, the country of Australia contributes to around 38% of global export. The country has faced a lot of physical changes because of the high intervention if humans in the environment. The continent has witnessed intensive depletion of its resources throughout the centuries by the human induces activities like hunting, mining, human-induced forest fires, depletion of a fresh source of water, etc. Among these, the source of water is considered to be a crucial factor since the Australian continent an arid climate and most of its geographical area is comprised of the desert. The depletion of natural resources has been intensified since the European population had started to inhabit the island and overrun the aborigines. The European invasion and the depletion of natural sources could be traced from the latter decades of the 18th century. The European population had tried to utilize and take control of the whole island, and thus inaction had conducted large homicides of the aborigines, deforestation a very large scale, etc. The actions have brought a great impact on the natural vegetation and natural ecosystem of the country. Many of the species which were found indigenously in Australia are now in the red list and are facing extinction. Though the soil of the Australian continent was not considered to be much fertile because of the arid climate and desert topography, the ecosystem of the same was much diverse than any other ecosystem in the world. It has been estimated by the scientists of the world that around 10% of overall biological species-related or origins from the continent of Australia. It should be noted that the overall impact of environmental issues in Australia and resource depletion is still not evident in the economic background of the nation. If taken the instance on the biological background, it could be observed that the national biodiversity and the ecological system of the have suffered a major setback because of the human intervention and depletion of the national resources. It has been observed by the biological experts that around 27 mammals, 23 birds, and four frogs have been extinct from the biological space of Australia.

It is a very crucial and serious matter of concern for the government of Australia that components of the ecosystem are vanishing over time and is causing great disbalance in the food chain. Not only the terrestrial area but also the water resources are polluted to the extreme level, which is posing imminent danger to the water-born species like fishes and algae. The pollution of water resources has created a degrading impact on environmental issues in Australia.

Though the country of Australia is much larger in its area, it only holds the 0.3 % of the world’s population. Thus, it could be estimated that there would be no scarcity of natural resources in the whole nation because of its large size. It is in the matter of the freshwater that the country is struggling the most. Because of the increased level of human interventions in the biological table, the water level has decreased to a very low level. At the same time, Australia is the most urbanized and driest continent in the world. This makes the water, most precious resource for the Australian population. Around 4/5th of the population of Australia resides in the coastal area and hence only 1 % of the total mass is used by the population.

Another major factor of imbalance in the biological table of Australia is the occurrence of soil erosion. The large rate of deforestation and carrel grazing have accelerated the rate of soil erosion. The major part of Australian land is used for agriculture which could be observed in the Australian land survey. It states that around 3/5th of the Australian land is agricultural land which amounts to around 454 million hectares. However, the overall contribution of the agricultural sector is just 3 % of the GDP of the Australian economy. This indicates that Australia is witnessing a very robust industrial development in its domestic economy. If taken in the domestic sector, the majority of the contribution is done by the mining and manufacturing sectors. These sectors have heavily depleted and polluted the natural resources of the country. Because of these industrial activities indiscriminate salination of the freshwater, acidification of the soil, desertification by the process of deforestation, pollution of the water resources, etc. have been done. The crops which have been imported and introduced in the domestic ecosystem of the Australian continent by the Europeans have caused a very detrimental impact on the biosphere. The new introduction of flora has even created an impact on the climate of the country. The 20 % of the forest has been already depleted to give way for the agriculture, mining process, and industrial advancements. Here are some factors contributing to the emergence of environmental issues in Australia.

  1. Consumption of Energy: In the case of natural sources of energy like coal, Australia is one of the major exporters of coal in the global market. The partial and complete combustion of the coal would give way for the emission for a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As per the Stern report, the country of Australia has observed to be the 8th largest emitter of the carbon dioxide in the world. It was observed that Australia had emitted around 16.5 tons in the year of 2003. The global scientists have claimed that Australia would come under the list of nations that are going to be impacted the most because of climate change. If the energy resources are used very inconsiderately, the environmental issues in Australia will arise abruptly.
  2. Avoiding the depletion of resources: The government of Australia has given the issue of environmental issues of the nation much focus and has included in the state-federal policy. Among all the countries, Australia has the most diverse biosphere. A lot of indigenous species is inhabited by the biosphere of Australia. For sustaining the biodiversity and even the habitat of humans, the government should take strict actions against the depletion of natural resources.
    The protection of the remaining rainforests in the Australian continent is one of the best actions to be taken by the government. The protection of the rainforests should be done by introducing strict laws against the encroachment of the rainforests and manipulating the ecosystem. In maintaining the biodiversity, water level, prevention of soil erosion, reducing air pollution, etc., the rainforests play a very vital role. Only the continent of Australia possesses this much of rain forests having the western culture since the remaining of the countries have depleted them for paving the way of industrialization. The regular supplies of the essential medical drugs, jungle products, wild delicacies, quality wood or timber, etc. could only be maintained by the conservation of the rainforests. The voice against the deforestation has been raised by many of the social bodies, NGO's and public mass. Among these, the major movements are I Love Earth and Big Switch.
    Australia has a record and history of very poor land management, and the same factor has paved the way for environmental issues in Australia. The natural vegetation was cleared indiscriminately for the convenience of the new European inhabitants. The country is now focusing on reinstating the depleted area of forest by totally avoiding any foreign or exotic species of vegetation. This would help in checking the widespread of the dryland salinity phenomenon and other harmful natural occurrences. The high use and the deletion of natural resources have impacted the areas of fisheries, agriculture, forestry, etc. This has created a lot of damage to the ecosystem and has poised various species at the brim of extinction. The marine ecosystem which was safer earlier is now also being affected in a very harmful way which has resulted in the disappearance of many species. Because of this, the food chain is getting destructed and is resulting in the demise of various crucial species. The sediments forming from the human constructions and manipulations accompanied by the use of pesticides and fertilizers in Australia are polluting the marine ecology. The areas like New South Wales are facing a lot of issues and problems because=e of heavy poaching and deforestation. By the detrimental human activities like inconsiderate mining, constructional activities, tourism, etc. the ecological hotspots like Daintree Rainforest are facing imminent danger of deforestation. The forest is situated in Queensland and is around 1200 sq. Kilometre area.
  3. Introduction of intrusive species: Since the Australian continent has been isolated to the outer world for centuries, the very unique and sensitive ecosystem has been developed in its biosphere. It has been observed that the introduction of any new element in the food chain or the biosphere would end up in the destruction of the whole ecosystem. The same factor had paved the way for environmental issues in Australia. It has been observed that the new entrants have no predators in the existing ecosystem resulting in uncontrollable booming and multiplication of the species. Because of the uncontrollable use of the resources and space by the foreign species, many native species have faced its demise. The cane toad and rabbit were not the original inhabitants of Australia and were introduced by the Europeans. Their introduction in the biosphere of Australia has posed a great challenge to the existence of other herbivores and even have resulted in the extinction of some crucial series. The human-created imbalance in the environment could only be brought back by the effective human intervention, and thus the government is required to take sudden improvements and policy generation regarding this matter. The introduction of foreign vegetations like prickly pear bush and lantana has caused irreversible damage to the ecosystem. The landscape of the Australian has widely and abruptly changed by the introduction of cattle like a dingo. If taken the history of Australian history, certain instances could be traced out in which the introduction of alien species has brought the initiation of detrimental plagues which thereby have even washed out an entire species. The best example of this is the introduction of the red fox into the Australian continent. The heavy population of it because of the lack of predators has led to the demise of many species. The federal government of Tasmania has acknowledged the issue of the increasing population of red foxes and hence has appointed several tasks to manually bring down the population of the red foxes.
  4. Indiscriminate Deforestation: Even before the advent of the invasion of the Europeans in the Australian continent, the aborigines of the continent have followed the convention of fire stick farming for centuries. This practice has transformed the ecology of the continent on a very wide basis since it comprised of the procedure of land clearing. The process of land clearing and deforestation was further accelerated when the Europeans landed onto the soil of Australia. The activities of the Europeans were much faster than the aborigines, and thus it has also created a sudden impact on the ecosystem. These activities had created an immense impact on environmental issues in Australia. The main motive behind the process of deforestation was to carry out the agriculture of crops like wheat and cotton, and cattle rearing. It has been surveyed by the government of Australia that an aggregate of 13 % of the overall vegetation in the continent has been destroyed after the advent of Europeans. After the colonization by Europeans, it is estimated that deforestation had led to the extinction of around 97 vegetative species, 20 mammal species, and nine species of birds. The major contributing factor towards the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the country is because of the high deforestation activities. As per the documentation of the Australian meteorological department in 1998, the deforestation activities have increased the greenhouse effect to 12 % per cent further extent.
    The issues of soil erosion and dryland salinity are also rising because of deforestation activities. These issues are now turning out to be a great headache and challenge to the land care movement agencies in the country of Australia.
    It is the federal government under which the duty to conserve natural reserves and natural vegetation resides. The role of state government is much limited, and the influence could be done indirectly. This convention is posing as the major barrier behind the implementation of a unified effort to reduce the destruction of natural vegetation.
  5. Prevention of Waterways and other water bodies: Apart from the activity of deforestation, the pollution of the waterways is one of the gravest issues faced by the government. The water is used by not only the wild inhabitants but also by humans. As mentioned in the previous section of this report on the environmental issues in Australia, the country is known to be placed with a very arid climate. This makes water availability a crucial factor. If a reserve is polluted, which was way before tagged as a scarce resource, the issue should be attended with imminent urgency. The best example of the environmental issues in Australia because of the pollution of water resources is the instance of Murray Darling Basin. The major cause of pollution was the agricultural fertilizers which were infused into the water bodies because of the irrigation process. The pollution has salinized the water resources and the water table of the areas like South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales to a greater extent. Apart from the fertilizers, the content of pesticides is also traced out in the samples which are affecting the health of millions of Australian citizens.
  6. Inconsiderate use of Water Reserves: As discussed earlier on this report on environmental issues in Australia, the country comes under the section of the arid climate area, and the availability of freshwater is seriously a very intriguing issue in front of the government and the citizens. The pattern of the droughts is now very frequent in the country of Australia, which is being furthermore intensified by the abrupt climate change. The manipulation of the water resources and the water table by the humans like the constructions of dams, check dams, water tanks, artificial channels for irrigation, artificial desalination plants have impacted on the ecological balance. These activities have all created a lot of pressure on the ecology and are now affecting all the components of the biosphere, including humans.

It has been observed in this report on the environmental issues in Australia that the restricted and limited knowledge regarding some of the issues prevailing in the ecosystem is turning out to be a hindrance to the preservation of the ecosystem. Since the Australian government is approaching the issues by the approach of risk-based management, the principles drafted are being partial and single-minded towards a certain perception. Both the federal and state governments work hand in hand to reduce the exploitation of natural resources. The government should be much lenient towards the expenditure over the policies to carry out the ecosystem conservation policies. The concerned bodies should refer to the example provided in this report and is recommended to take appropriate actions.

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