Using the sea around us
As this article goes to press, the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea is in progress in New York. Obviously we cannot see into the future, so we cannot know the outcome. Nevertheless, it seems likely that at this session or at later ones a convention will be drawn up that will give maritime nations jurisdiction over all the ocean within 200 nautical miles of their coastlines. As a result, 24% of the earth's surface that has traditionally been ‘open sea’ will come under national control.
Looking into smoke
Forest fires pour enormous amounts of smoke into the air over Australia each year. A day's prescribed burning in a forest — to reduce the bushfire risk by removing forest fuel — can send up more than 1000 tonnes of smoke. The devastating Victorian bushfires of 1939 produced enough to discolour the sky as far away as New Zealand.
Conserving our genetic heritage
Australia is the land of eucalypts. From the tip of Cape York to southern Tasmania and from Cape Byron in the east to the westernmost point of Western Australia, these aromatic, evergreen trees dominate great tracts of our landscape and make it essentially Australian. We use them for timber and pulp, or merely gain pleasure from their just being there. Over the years many of the ‘useless’ species have been cleared to make way for grazing, crops, or development. Some now cover only a fraction of their former ranges.
Can we grow our fuel?
In 1973 the Academy of Science suggested that Australia should aim at producing half its annual requirements for liquid fuels from vegetation by the year 2000. As these requirements are expected to more than double by then, the target is a figure somewhat greater than our present oil consumption. That's a vast amount of fuel — the equivalent of 20 – 30 thousand million litres of oil.
Making biological control less hit-and-miss
Biological control — the use of organisms to control others that have become a nuisance to Man — has had its successes both in Australia and overseas. Australian scientists have been looking for biological control agents for many pests for much of this century. Even so, not all introductions have proved successful, and such investigations are expensive. So any procedure that increases the chances of success will also yield financial savings.
Where prawns grow up
Moreton Bay, off Brisbane, is the heart of one of Australia's main prawn fisheries. The annual catch of king prawns brings in $2 million or more, and the area also harbours large populations of greasyback and tiger prawns.
Uncovering the causes of floods and droughts
Much of eastern Australia was flood-bound again last summer, and memories of the devastating droughts of earlier years are beginning to fade. The wet spell has lasted 3 years now, and nobody can predict how long it will continue. But we can be confident of one thing: it will end some time. Australia will continue to be hit by droughts as well as floods.
Helping the Army protect Mother Nature
Army training areas may take a fair pounding. Even with careful control, tanks, armoured personnel-carriers, or four-wheel-drive vehicles for example can make a considerable mess. By the late 1960s the Australian Army was becoming very worried about the condition of some of its training areas — particularly the one at Puckapunyal in Victoria.