Science and the EnvironmentsSubscribe to Science and the Environments

 Professor Mike Sandiford of the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences questions whether Australia has enough uranium to supply the growing global nuclear power industry, as an alternative to fossil fuels.

BHP is set to develop Australia’s first and biggest uranium mine in more than 20 years, in Western Australia. The plans have been submitted after the Liberal West Australian Government's removal of the longstanding ban on uranium mines.

“Australia has by far the largest reserves of uranium of any country in the world. It is not the biggest supplier but this new mine will make it amongst the biggest suppliers and expand the reserves that we have to meet the growing demand for uranium,” Professor Sandiford says.

“There is a concern however that our uranium supply might not meet the demand provided by growth of nuclear reactors around the world.”

Professor Sandiford says there is an urgent need to generate new stationary energy supplies to replace fossil fuels.

"Nuclear energy is having a resurgence. More and more countries are looking at meeting growing demand for stationary energy by building reactors.”

“The consequences of rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are severe. We need to look at all alternative possibilities, for which nuclear is one of them. However it will be no good converting our stationary energy supply to nuclear if we couldn’t supply the uranium.”

Professor Sandiford adds that there is also an urgent need to understand how to deal with the waste. He says there is hope that future technologies could more efficiently burn some of the waste.

“It could turn from waste to resource but at the moment it’s accumulating at a rapid rate, at the cost of future generations.”

“I think we should develop technologies to secure it and there is a great deal of opportunity in Australia to do so.”

“Other parts around the world provide equally stable geological environments to provide a home for all the waste, which should go back in the earth from which all the uranium came.”

 

A group of global health experts have united to pressure the World Health Organisation into including a process of mass vaccination into its management strategy for cholera outbreaks in Africa as the deadly disease spreads.

The announcement of a $57 billion deficit by the Federal Government on Tuesday did not surprise Associate Professor Mark Crosby; but the decisions to delay policies such as maternity leave and a pension increase have.

“It seems strange that the Government has decided to delay certain policies because if it’s a good idea why not start now?” he says.

“The effect of delaying these policy delays will have a minimal effect on revenue and taxes, as while some changes will cost the government, some are revenue raising.”

Associate Professor Crosby also said claims from the Liberals that they had built up a large surplus from which Labor are now spending is not accurate.

“While some of the reforms introduced by the Liberals – such as the GST – were good from an economist’s perspective, from 2002 onwards they simply got lucky. There was a lot of money coming in and they didn’t really use it as well as they could have,” he says.

“The challenge for the Labour party now is that they are in office during much more difficult times and will be forced to make difficult decisions.”

 Despite this, Professor Crosby says Australia is starting from a very strong position – even with such a large deficit - when compared to most global economies.

Associate Professor Mark Crosby is a lecturer in Economics at the Melbourne Business School.

A new study has revealed that mother birds can provide an early advantage to the chicks that they have sired with their non-social partner (known as extra-pair offspring).

The spread of integrated technology in buildings is helping to make living and working conditions more comfortable, as David Scott explains.

Researchers have gained new insight into how the immune system responds to HIV. The new findings are a step closer to understanding how to develop preventative and therapeutic vaccines against HIV and why some individuals have better clinical outcomes after treatment.

“Habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and a deadly skin disease caused by a fungus are the main threats to frogs around the world” says Dr Kirsten Parris of The University of Melbourne.

The science behind Victoria’s recent bushfires will be discussed at a forum at the University of Melbourne this week. The Melbourne School of Land and Environment will host a public forum as part of the Bushfire Recovery Initiative (BRI). The forum will address critical scientific issues including climate change, understanding the risks and management of bushfires, bushfire behaviour and the implications for our catchments and streams.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Princeton University have shown for the first time that the difference in reflection of light from the Earth’s land masses and oceans can be seen on the dark side of the moon, a phenomenon known as earthshine.

A living green roof is providing a spectacular feature at this year’s Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS). Designed and built by a team from the University of Melbourne’s Burnley campus, the display highlights the benefits of green roofs which include aesthetically pleasing cityscapes, longer roof life, significantly reduced building energy use and a reduction of the urban heat island effect.

Pages