In this issue

Issue 1


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Toxic metals in Tasmanian rivers
It all began with oysters — they were making people sick. During the late 1960s, several people began growing oysters in Ralph's Bay at the bottom of the Derwent estuary. They used the Pacific oyster — a much larger shellfish than our native Australian oysters — and this type grew particularly well. Problems began to appear in 1970, when the first oysters came on sale: they made people vomit.
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Cleaning up coal wastes
Last year our black-coal-mining industry produced nearly 10 million tonnes of waste. Next year it will discard even more, and each year, barring a slump, this figure will go on rising. The industry has a problem — how to dispose of this waste.
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Computers ease a planner’s burden
Dr John Brotchie regards the Club of Rome's study of the earth's resources and the limits they impose on population and economic growth, published in 1972 as The Limits To Growth, as a milestone. The researchers devised a mathematical model of the things happening on the earth that they considered most significant and used a computer to study interactions between them. The complexity of the problem was such that the results obtained could not have been derived in any other way, Dr Brotchie believes.
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A use for mud, slag, and slime
Many people like to build these days with bricks that are brown or grey rather than the usual red or cream. A pigment commonly used to give the bricks their colour is 'industrial manganese dioxide', which sells for about $80 a tonne.
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Fogs and power stations
If you pump 38 cubic metres of warm water into Hobson's Bay near the mouth of the Yarra River every second, will you cause a fog problem for shipping? Williamstown Council asked CSIRO for an opinion after plans were announced for a big new power station at Newport, beside the Yarra mouth.
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An urban heat island
When you build a city you change the local climate. Concrete, asphalt, and stone absorb and store heat more efficiently than vegetation and loose soil; buildings and other structures affect wind speeds and atmospheric mixing; and factories, cars, and many other things eject vast amounts of heat.
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The ‘uranium province’ prepares for development
When the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt crossed Arnhem Land in 1845 on his way to Port Essington from Brisbane, he noted that buffaloes were numerous in the Alligator Rivers region. There were three short-lived British settlements on the north coast in the 1820s, '30s, and '40s; their lasting memorials — for the following century virtually the only contributions of the white man to the natural environment of the region — are the buffalo, the wild pig, and the cattle tick.
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Some of CSIRO’s environmental research
Broken glass is one of the ingredients of the white surface layer of a million facing bricks made at a Melbourne brick-works each year; it comes from bottles that would otherwise be waste to dispose of. CSIRO researchers devised the process.
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Treaty on migratory birds
It is nearly 5000 km from the northern coast of Australia to the southern tip of Japan. Birds of at least 32 species make the journey regularly, and for many it's just a hop in a longer migration. Other species are irregular travellers between the two countries.
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Little Miss Muffet ate her whey, but in Australia vast amounts of this by-product of the manufacture of cheese and other dairy products go to waste and can cause serious pollution. Research by scientists in CSIRO and the Victorian Department of Agriculture now shows promise of putting the valuable nutrients it contains to good use in food for stock and people. If this can be done, the effluent disposal problems of dairy factories should be greatly reduced.
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Bringing the bush to town
Use native grasses in our city parks? At first glance this doesn't seem a very startling idea. Yet, oddly, nearly 200 years after settling this continent, we still don't. At last, two or three city planning departments are thinking about using them.
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Monitoring carbon dioxide
For many years people have been issuing dire warnings against allowing ever-growing amounts of carbon dioxide to pour into the atmosphere. Burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels always produce this gas, and world output has shot up in this century.
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