Our environment cannot bounce back from major petrochemical contamination, on top of the constant flow of waste from agriculture, textile factories and our homes. The cheap and easy approach to dealing with waste has been to simply bury it, which is unsustainable, especially as chemicals inevitably leech out into soils and waters. While thermal desorption removes contaminants, it also kills the soil. The best solution is bioremediation.
As a custodian species of the planet’s ecosystems, we have become disconnected from our responsibilities, attending to the patterns that build the complex web of life. Our activities and waste products are disrupting ecosystems, impacting the reproductive success of other animals. Pharmaceutical waste can persist even in the most remote places on the planet, including Antarctica. But it’s not all bad news, particularly if we pay attention to where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.
Seals were harvested heavily in south-eastern Australia in the 1800’s, reducing thriving colonies of five seal species to a single species. Today, citizen scientists from every continent participate in the annual SealSpotter Challenge, using footage from drones flying over Seal Rocks to count the number of pups. This count enables scientists like Dr Rebecca McIntosh and Ross Holmberg to analyse seal population data faster and more accurately so that they can see how the population is fairing over time.
Wooleen Station pastoralist David Pollock demonstrates the grazing systems used in the arid rangelands regions of Australia are not sustainable. Periodic rest periods for important pasture species have not been adopted due to high competition for grazing from rabbits, wild goats and kangaroos. David argues the best solution to this unmanaged grazing is the dingo, an important apex predator in the ecosystem unhelpfully mischaracterized as a “wild dog” to justify widespread culling programs.
Australian fur seals play an important role in Australia’s marine ecosystems, particularly around Phillip Island. To better understand them, the Phillip Island Nature Parks are calling for your help.