Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
March 2009 Issue
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Water, climate change key focus of new institute


The University of Adelaide has established a new research institute to tackle some of the most serious environmental challenges facing Australia and the world.

Headed by one of the country's leading water policy experts, Professor Mike Young, the Environment Institute brings together expertise in water, climate change, economics, marine research, energy technology, natural resource management and ancient DNA.

Professor Young, who last year won the South Australian of the Year Environment Award, is leading a highly skilled group of researchers in helping to find solutions to a whole raft of pressing environmental and resource management issues.

Just last month Professor Young played a key role in persuading Senator Nick Xenophon to stand his ground and push for a better deal for the Murray Darling from the economic stimulus package. His intervention helped Senator Xenophon secure almost $1 billion for the river system, including additional exit packages for irrigators.

"Australia faces diabolical policy problems in relation to climate change and water resources," Professor Young said. "The two are inextricably linked."

"While climate change is the issue of greatest national importance, it is arguable that water is the issue of most interest to South Australia. The River Murray - our greatest ecological icon - is under terminal stress and we need to find alternative water sources. We should expect the adverse effects of climate change to first be expressed in water.

"Research is needed to help us reduce our carbon footprint, restore and improve our native habitats and restructure our agricultural systems.

"Many of these issues have been dealt with in isolation in the past but this is no longer an option. All are linked and must be dealt with in a holistic and co-ordinated way."

The new Environment Institute brings together the leading environmental scientists in South Australia and includes Federation Fellow Professor Alan Cooper and Professor Barry Brook, who was recently named one of the top 10 young scientists in Australia.

Professor Young said the Institute members would contribute to solving our most difficult environmental problems.

"For example, the energy efficiency research team headed by Professor Gus Nathan aims to help industry save one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next five years.

"Associate Professor David Paton, South Australia's leading conservationist and previous winner of the SA Great Award for the Environment, is also working on a ground-breaking model for protecting South Australia's native habitats through an exciting new proposal for Glenthorne Farm."

The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor James McWha, said all of the researchers in the Environment Institute had an outstanding track record and were internationally recognised in their field.

"Collectively, they have been growing their research at a phenomenal rate over the past five years and they will play a critical role in building the State's reputation as a global leader in environmental research."

Story by Candy Gibson

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Professor Mike Young, Executive Director of the University of Adelaide’s new Environment Institute
Photo by Jennie Groom

Professor Mike Young, Executive Director of the University of Adelaide's new Environment Institute
Photo by Jennie Groom

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