Arthur Calwell, Labor Immigration Minister at the time, came up with the strategy of populate or perish at the end of World War II, as a path to economic growth and national security for Australia. Seventy years later, the same policy will cause our own extinction.
I’m going in two directions at once with this post, thinking out loud in the hope there will be a solution. We are consuming 1.7 of the earth’s resources at the present rate, with western countries being the highest consumers. We are living unsustainably, and populating at a rate that is already impacting on standards of living around the world. This is exacerbated by poor political leadership, including planning, and a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Scientific evidence has shown there is no doubt we are in the midst of human induced climate change. Predictions by scientists show that massive changes will take place this century, even if we reduce carbon emissions radically immediately, due to the lag in cause and effect.
Climate change will make areas unlivable very quickly, as we have seen with the last hurricane season south of the USA, flooding in Bangladesh and famine in West Africa. People lose shelter, food and safe water sources, get sick and die. This will happen so often world-wide in different ways, that we won’t need to consider population growth as a problem anymore, rather how to protect the existing population.
The climate is already changing, and we need strategies to stop global warming. In the interim, the challenge is to anticipate what it to come and plan for it.
There will be unlivable areas of the planet so people will have to move or die. Some areas will become hazardous to live in due to flooding and other extreme weather events, but with support can stay in place.
What is Australia planning to do about this? How will we assist people overseas? How are we preparing to accept climate change refugees? I strongly believe that we must plan now. This is a global problem. By working together we can save as many people and as much of the environment as possible. Like the two world wars before us, this is the challenge for our generation.
Future posts will look at ideas for living in a post consumption and climate change world.