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HomeSustainable LivingPopulationCan we feed a “Big Australia” ?

Can we feed a “Big Australia” ?

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 14:20

The discussion of food security for the future is one which we should all consider. 

Michael Lardelli is Senior Lecturer in Genetics at The University of Adelaide. Since 2004 he has been an activist for spreading awareness on the impact of energy decline resulting from oil depletion. He has written numerous articles on the topic published in The Adelaide Review and elsewhere, has delivered ABC Radio National Perspectives, spoken at events organised by the South Australian Department of Trade and Economic Development and edits the (subscription only) Beyond Oil SA email newsletter. He has lectured on "peak oil" to students in the Australian School of Petroleum.

His article was first published May 6 2010 by Energy Bulletin, Archived May 6 2010 and has been published in On Line Opinion here.

The concluding paragraphs of the well researched article state

By 2050, if Australia is to survive as a nation, our agriculture will need to have adapted to climate change, instituted radical measures to recapture and recycle nutrients (e.g. using human and animal wastes as fertiliser) and have, somehow, compensated for the loss of cheap and plentiful fuel. We have not even begun to move in the direction of the more local, intensive but lower energy agriculture that will be necessary and we have less than four decades to accomplish it! In the face of these challenges it is highly unlikely that we will be able to support 36 million people. Indeed, even supporting our current population might prove a significant challenge.

In light of everything described above, we would be very well advised to restrict our population growth as much as possible, as soon as possible. Our ageing demographic profile - the "baby-boomer bulge" - represents an opportunity to do this in an organised and humane manner. We should not be desperately importing new mouths to feed in a vain attempt to either build more houses or support the baby boomer generation through their retirement. For the sake of our children's future we should, instead, do what is necessary to cope with the passing of the ageing bulge using our own people. This will be difficult, but an informed Australia can accept and meet this challenge. Moreover, our children will be left with a far more robust and food-secure nation. The alternative, "Big Australia" is not really an alternative at all.

 

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