Known for its iconic kangaroos, the world’s largest island has 25,760 km of coastline and a land area of over 7.6 million km², twice that of the entire European Union. At 26 tonnes of carbon dioxide per inhabitant per year, this country has some of the world’s highest greenhouse gas emissions. The first Indigenous Australians arrived some 60,000 years ago. A considerable part of the country is desert, especially the south west which has the lowest precipitation levels in the world after the Antarctic. In this country that boasts over 7,000 beaches, the government actively campaigns to raise sun awareness among the population of some 21 million.
Water: the country’s main river, the Murray, is drying up and water salinity is increasing. Yet the Murray-Darling basin in the southwest (called Millewa by Indigenous Australians), stretching across over 1 million km², features 72% of Australia’s arable land and provides nearly 50% of the country’s irrigation water. The basin is dubbed Australia’s food basket.
Deforestation: Tasmania’s old-growth forests are being logged at a rate of 44 football fields/day.
Uranium mining: the world’s largest uranium deposit at Olympic Dam is located near nine sacred sites expropriated from the Indigenous Australians. A proposed uranium mine at Alice Springs is a subject of controversy due to conservation concerns.
Protected areas: natural parks and reserves, such as Kakadu Park, make up 5% of Australia’s total land area. 10% of Norfolk Island and 2/3 of Christmas Island, home to the Golden Bosun, are also protected areas. Off the northeast coast, the Great Barrier Reef (350,000 km²) is the only living structure visible from space. Threatened by global warming and tourism, the Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Energy: the city of Cloncurry (population 2,900) is slated to become Australia’s first exclusively solar-powered town using, not solar cells, but a solar power tower featuring an array of 8,000 mirrors that reflects sunlight onto blocks of purified graphite.
The Hon Peter Garret, former lead singer of Midnight Oil and patron of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is the current Minister of the Environment, Heritage, and the Arts.
Shortly before signing the Kyoto Protocol, Australia organised its first Walk Against Warming (2007) in close to 50 cities throughout the country. The first Earth Hour also took place here, in Sydney in 2007, when public buildings turned off their lighting for one hour. Since then, 35 other countries have followed suit, with Earth Hours happening in Dublin, Manila, Bangkok, Copenhagen, and Toronto.
Bush Heritage Australia works to conserve the habitat of endangered species through land acquisition.
In 2006, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote a report highlighting Australia’s precarious water situation.
The Australian Greens are a registered political party with an internal structure that differs considerably from that of conventional parties.