1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008
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Water, land and air are integral parts of Australia's environment that not only sustain life but also are key contributors to economic growth as inputs to production.
Freshwater is a valuable resource for both households and industry. Australia is the second driest continent, after Antarctica. Rainfall also varies considerably, both year-to-year and season-to-season. Water shortages and drought conditions experienced throughout much of Australia during the period 2001 to 2007, have exacerbated the pressure on water supplies. The Water section in this chapter provides information about water availability, storage and use.
The Land section outlines some of the pressures placed on Australia's landscape, including continued population growth and land clearing. All uses of land exert pressure on the environment. Australia's soils are geologically old and shallow and are susceptible to degradation by agricultural activities. Land degradation also has consequences for biodiversity; for example, where land is cleared which reduces or destroys the habitat of native plants and/or animals. The section also includes data on waste generation and recycling, which has implications for land use.
The Air section looks at both greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air quality. GHG emissions have been linked with global warming and climate change as part of an enhanced greenhouse effect. Included are the major contributors to GHG emissions and how Australia is tracking under the Kyoto protocol. Air quality is important to human health, and plants and animals. The main pollutants examined here are particulate matter and ozone (or photochemical smog).
The chapter contains an article on Australia's most important food-producing region, Murray-Darling Basin, 2004-05 and concludes with the article Tsunami risk to Australia.