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Girt by sea

11 August 2010 7 Comments
By 2050 Australia’s population is set to hit 35 million, the number of people displaced by climate change globally is predicted to reach 200 million. How will Australia cope? Lauren Day reports.

Two big issues have dominated the headlines this year and will continue to dominate as the federal election approaches: climate change and refugees.

The debates surrounding these issues have thus far played out parallel to each other but the convergence of the two is imminent. This year, Treasury’s Intergenerational Report projected that Australia’s population would hit 35 million by 2050, the same year in which the International Organisation for Migration predicts there will be 200 million people displaced by climate change globally.

Our neighbours in the Pacific Islands and parts of Asia are the first to face the prospect of leaving their homes due to the changing climate, including sea level rise and extreme weather events. So what are our responsibilities in this mass exodus? How will Australia cope with a vast increase in population and the kind of pressures this could put on our infrastructure, environment and social cohesion? And how will the loss of our own coastline compact the problem?

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  • tomsln

    The IPAT model relates (I) environmental impact to (P) population, (A) affluence and (T) technology. Environmental impact includes climate change impacts. Even blind freddy can see that there are plenty of populations on the planet who don’t have much impact because they don’t have much affluence or a bunch of troublesome technology. The ACF sponsored Australian Consumption Atlas highlights that the higher folks income becomes the more stuff they get and do and the higher their impact is. Are we heroic enough to take up the responsibility of reducing our impact? Surely we had enough smarts to create this consuming society. Will we apply those smarts to create solutions and change our ways to support 9 billion people in an equitable fashion? We can be our own leaders, empowering ourselves to get on with the ultimate real-life survivor challenge.

  • tomsln

    The IPAT model relates (I) environmental impact to (P) population, (A) affluence and (T) technology. Environmental impact includes climate change impacts. Even blind freddy can see that there are plenty of populations on the planet who don’t have much impact because they don’t have much affluence or a bunch of troublesome technology. The ACF sponsored Australian Consumption Atlas highlights that the higher folks income becomes the more stuff they get and do and the higher their impact is. Are we heroic enough to take up the responsibility of reducing our impact? Surely we had enough smarts to create this consuming society. Will we apply those smarts to create solutions and change our ways to support 9 billion people in an equitable fashion? We can be our own leaders, empowering ourselves to get on with the ultimate real-life survivor challenge.

  • sam

    what a beautifully constructed narrative

  • sam

    what a beautifully constructed narrative

  • Daniel Piotrowski

    really well put together story and video!

  • Daniel Piotrowski

    really well put together story and video!

  • Matilda C

    But that raises the issue of quality of life. We may be able to sustain 9 billion people if many of them remain at the level of development they’re currently at but this isn’t just about denying them “troublesome technology” like iPads and Twitter, it’s life-saving advancements that could vastly improve people’s quality of life.