Saturday, July 31, 2010


Salination Gouache on paper 14.8 x 21 cm

Salt Eternal Gouache on paper 17.8 x 25.4 cm

Regular readers of this BLOG will know of my interest in water. I have previously written about my thoughts on water, its literal use and its capacity to be a metaphor for life, akin to my much loved tree-of-life/knowledge motif. I grew up on my parent's grain farm just outside Dalby on the rich Darling Downs, in SE Queensland, Australia. In the last 5 years the area, once known for it farming and livestock agricultural production, is now hitting the headlines for its burgeoning mining industry with open cut coal mines and coal seam gas extraction [CSG].

This link is a previous post about water. It has other links to other posts as well.

One of the by-products of CSG is 'waste water' which is salty. During gas extraction processes this water flows from deep underground, from the aquifers that make up the Great Artesian Basin which straddles Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Here's a link to a picture of it. Sustaining this huge resource is of paramount importance for a number of reasons. These include maintaining reliable drinking water sources for livestock, some rural townships' needs, ensuring water tables are maintained to avoid soil salination and so on.

The CSG 'waste water' is stored in water storages ie: dams. However, there is controversy over how to deal with the high salt content, as the water cannot be used for most agricultural and domestic needs. Salt does not go away. Interestingly the symbolism of salt is twofold. It symbolises eternity, endurance. It also symbolises aridness, suffering and barrenness. Put these two together and the result is eternal barrenness. Salination of soils is an environmental disaster to be clearly avoided.

This takes me to the question of risk. What kind of risks are governments, enterprise...indeed all of us... willing to take when questions of environmental vulnerability and threats to future food production for an increasing population are asked but no-one seems to be able to answer in a way which demonstrates that risk analysis has been completely examined. It is one thing to ascertain and take risks if subsequent action only affects the person or enterprise making the decision. But, it is another thing altogether if risk or potential risk may affect not only the decider, but others not only now but into the future.  

So, to my paintings above. These two small works on paper are the results of my ponderings on the risk of salt to our environment. Obviously I am focussing on the district of my childhood, but soil salination is a global problem in terms of environmental issues and future food producing needs.

Here are some links to articles about the CSG issue.

Please have a look at this site too  

Until next time.

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