“Sticking with what currently works will not be as profitable when the broader environment changes. What seems valuable now, will not remain so.”
The Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region is home to some of Australia’s most treasured natural assets, but protecting our natural environment isn’t just a matter of public responsibility, it’s also a key part of our comparative advantage in the global economy.
Australia enjoys a world-class reputation for safe, green and affordable products. It allows local business owners like Corey Vaughan to trade internationally out of his hometown of Mackay while generating opportunities for Australian exporters experienced in predictive technologies.
Improving the sustainability of households, industries and cities is a major opportunity for the local economy. From reducing the environmental impact of mine sites to fueling clean energy using biowaste, technologies produced right here in the region are transforming the economy and securing a more sustainable future.
Here are a few ways technologies are helping to secure a sustainable future.
Electricity prices depend on the evolution of energy technologies. In the short term, dependence on fossils fuels is unavoidable, however, the world will need to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to improve environmental and energy security. Technical efforts must be directed to increasing the efficiency of energy supply and reducing the environmental impact of fossil fuels.
Waste to energy projects like the Mackay Biorefinery, which produces fewer pollutants than either oil or coal, is in abundant supply and can play an important role in the transition to an economy much less dependent on fossil fuels.
In response to a growing population and greater rainfall variability predicted as a result of climate change, Australia has the opportunity to play an important role in ensuring global food security.
Increased food production and the improved means of storage and distribution will depend on technological advances. Biotechnology has produced new strains of crops resistant to disease and drought. Further advances in producing crop varieties naturally resistant to pests will permit a further reduction in the use of pesticides.
Genetic engineering holds promise not only in agriculture, but also in aquaculture where it can lead to increased production of marine and freshwater seafood. The Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region is currently recognised as an aquaculture precinct by both State and Federal Governments.
Water treatment and reuse will have a decisive role in sustainable development in the public, industrial and agricultural sectors. In the public sector, securing public health will remain the basic feature of urban water capture. Transportation and treatment technologies must be chosen accordingly.
Technologies now exist for controlling many types of pollutants. The future challenge will be the control of organic micropollutants and heavy metals. For water-intensive industries, minimising water consumption will become a necessity and it will be a key factor determining the market compatibility of industrial products. For the agricultural sector, new technologies will be needed that minimise water consumption and prevent unsustainable groundwater extraction.
GW3 will soon commence work on an overarching regional water strategy for Mackay Isaac Whitsudnay to reveal how best to leverage the region’s current water assets for the best return.
The materials revolution that is now underway has profound implications for the environment. Traditional materials such as steel, concrete and plastic are undergoing significant changes that reduce the environmental impact of their manufacture and use. Scientists and engineers are also beginning to design new materials based on a better understanding of their properties and the possibility to manipulate them at the atomic level.
In the future, new technological capabilities will contribute to the creation of materials with very specific and closely controlled properties. These new materials will permit the development of products that are more energy efficient, consume less mineral resources in their manufacturing, are lighter and stronger, and recyclable.
Also, under development are alloys lighter than aluminium and stronger than steel and bioinspired materials that take naturally occurring structural principles and transfers them into more relevant base materials to produce new combinations of material properties.