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Thursday, July 28, 2016

What is pollution and how does it happen?

Pollution, it is a funny word. It is used so often these days however it is derived from the latin word pollutionem which means 'make dirty'.

That makes perfect sense when pollution can be defined as the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects. Pollution makes the environment dirty.

Wait a minute. Who is making the environment dirty? Have a good look around you, and in the mirror too, because people are the biggest producers of pollution. Since almost all people live on the land it is logical and well documented that most pollution comes from the land.

Example: When we go to the store and buy a packaged item we don't call it pollution. It is only after we removed the item we want from the package that the packaging itself becomes waste matter. 

Packaging waste can become pollution when not disposed of properly. For instance have you noticed that there is often rubbish (pollution) outside take away food shops, the sides of roads, building sites or shopping centres? 

This visible pollution can be picked up in the wind and carried far away however, as with many kinds of pollution, the cleansing rains often pick it up and transport it down through drains to the rivers and streams to lakes, estuaries and eventually to the sea. 

Packaging waste that is recycled can find another life as a useful product and some innovators actually re-purpose waste into new things, like clothing, floor surfaces or furniture. We could call that sustainable solutions for waste. We need lots of people thinking about sustainable solutions to reduce pollution.

OK well how about another example, fuel. Although some of the processes used to make fuel can cause pollution, fuel isn't actually pollution when we put it into our fuel tanks. However once we have used it in our vehicle a few things happen. One is that chemical residues leave the car and go unseen up into the air creating air pollution. Some residues splash or drip from the exhaust pipe or engine right onto the road to become pollution. 

The chemicals in the air will eventually fall down onto the land or roofs or roads. These chemical residues get washed away in run-off from rainstorms sending poisons straight into the stormwater drains that lead to the sea. People are thinking about how to change this.

Although these are only a couple of examples of pollution, can we challenge you to think about all the things around you that will become waste and what life they may have as pollution afterwards? 

Every action that we make or take changes our environment. Is there a way that you might use your own actions to make things better? 

Could you find ways to use less packaging, recycle, re-purpose or or simply keep stormwater cleaner by keeping chemicals out of the drains?

Our oceans are a precious asset providing us with food, adventure, and much that is yet undiscovered. By being thoughtful about air and land pollution you can help keep our seas clean.

Learn more about Marine Stormwater Pollution here

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FOR TEACHERS: The Coral Garden

A great accompaniment to the AUSMEPA unit of work on The Effect of Climate Change on Coral Bleaching here will be the clip below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bush Rangers WA cadets learning to care for the land to the sea

Western Australia is a big part of Australia and there are wonderful things to see, learn and do there. Parks and Wildlife WA have a Bush Rangers program that has a lot of territory to cover. Follow the links below to find out more about caring for the land from the catchment to the sea.
The Bush Rangers WA program could not operate without the commitment, support and passion of teachers, parents and other
The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) protects and conserves the State’s natural environment on behalf of the people of Western Australia.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MarineWATERs; Western Australian educational resources

For many years the Dept of Fisheries in WA has been developing some great of marine educational resources. Have you ever wondered how some of our weird and wonderful marine creatures mate? Here is one of their resources demonstrating how the prickly skinned rock lobster gets busy with that special someone.

Check out the MarineWATERs Facebook page at /

or their website blog

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Marine bioluminescence reveals how bacteria talk

Brilliant TED Talk by Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria communicate. You will never think about bacteria in the same way again.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dredging, what's it all about?

If you need to get around the big country of Australia you need some sort of infrastructure. We have roads that crisscross the continent that emanate from the country towns and interstate to the cities from the cities and ports to overseas destinations. 

On the land the transport is usually by train or by road. On the sea transport uses port channels to pick up and move goods and people. 

Whether they are made from sand, dirt, rubble, asphalt or metal these connecting pathways need to first be built and then maintained. In both sorts, land and sea, there is a major change to the landscape and the environment. The most dramatic change is at the start of new projects however they must also be progressively maintained with subsequent collateral impacts. 

Rail and roads plow through forests and cut through mountain passes disrupting wildlife corridors. Although hats are off to the few states that build the occasional wildlife bridge over or underpass. 

We don't seem to pay a great deal of attention to what is being transported on land eg. logs, minerals, gas or crops, unless they cause traffic congestion for other users. However we all care about our beautiful land and sea and need to be more aware of how big changes to our landscape can have a rolling effect, including dredging.

With the current low environmental effect of shipping (2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions) including the statistically low numbers of infrequent but distressing events like oil spills and new port infrastructure, dredging is largely merely a maintenance issue.

Ports Australia give insights in two reports that should be taken into account within any dredging debate:

2. Temperate ports 

Largely overlooked in the dredging debate is that new ports are built as a result of demand for goods. New ports are built closest to their market place. The big question, in respect of dredging, may relate to whether the products being imported or exported are justified in a triple bottom line context (environment/social/economic balance).

For instance Australia exports non-renewable fossil fuels by sea. Do we have other export choices that may not require new ports near vulnerable sea areas. The real cost of energy article (relying on renewable energy or non-renewable) by Huffpost can be viewed as an information resource here.

Through all of these reports and debate one primary underlying question remains...does the environment hold an equal weight in the triple bottom line equation?