Tag Archives: environment

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds

Seabirds on one of Australia’s remotest islands have plastic in their stomachs.

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds
A flesh-footed shearwater surveys the contents of its stomach Credit: Ian Hutton

A recent survey found more than 95 per cent of the migratory flesh-footed shearwaters nesting on Lord Howe Island, between Australia and the northern tip of New Zealand, had swallowed plastic garbage.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, plastic has been shown to bind poisonous pollutants. As a result, some shearwaters were found with concentrations of mercury more than 7,000 times the level considered toxic.

Only six of more than 200 nests visited contained chicks. The overall population is plummeting.
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Animals contribute to greenhouse gases

Smoke-belching coal-fired power stations and factories and fossil fuel-guzzling motor vehicles may be seen as the big villains of the global climate change debate, but they aren’t the only ones contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Australia’s hundreds of millions of cattle, sheep, pigs and other agricultural animals – not to mention our native fauna – also release significant amounts of methane and other gases into the atmosphere.

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Researcher to fight insects with spider venom

An Australian researcher is working on environmentally friendly insect control methods based on spider venom compounds.

Professor Glenn King recently joined The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, where he will further develop his pioneering approach to insecticide discovery.

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Sustaining the shrinking footprint

Industry has increased its efficiency from what it was in the past, to the point where its current ecological footprint is a fraction of what it used to be.

Now imagine an industry sector that produces zero waste, is carbon neutral and husbands the earth’s resource endowment for future generations.

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BHP Billiton leading the way in mine optimisation tools

The strategic planning of open pit mining projects that span several decades is critical to achieving maximum project value.

To address this issue, BHP Billiton Global Technology has developed a mine planning optimisation software tool called Blasor™. By using optimal mine planning software, strategic planners can now determine ultimate pit sizes and pit development plans that deliver maximum value over the life of the mine.

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How lobsters create their colours

Credit: CSIRO Food Futures Flagship
Credit: CSIRO Food Futures Flagship

A team of Queensland researchers have discovered the genetics that underlies the one molecule that lobsters, prawns and other crustaceans use to make the complex coloured patterns appreciated by biologists and connoisseurs of seafood.

The work of Dr Nick Wade and colleagues will help with conservation and aquaculture, and may even lead to a new food colourant. The colour of seafood is directly linked to its acceptability as food. Highly coloured lobsters and prawns attract a premium price. And for the crustaceans themselves, it’s a matter of survival.