Australia needs to stem population growth to address climate change – expert warns

December 20, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

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Rebecca Scott
University of Melbourne
Mobile: 0417 164 791

World leading reproduction expert Professor Roger Short, of the University of Melbourne, says Australia’s population growth is out of control increasing the rate of global warming.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian population is increasing by one person nearly every two minutes.

“Australia is a disgrace. We have one of the highest rates of population growth of any developed country. What are we going to do about it?” he says.

According to a paper submitted on to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, “Nature is already under stress from human activities. The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005 concluded that two-thirds of ecosystems on which humans depend are currently being degraded or used unsustainably.”

The report recommends the Copenhagen conference acknowledges the importance of population as a key driver of climate change and places the issue high on the agenda.

The latest population projections from the United Nations, reveals that the world’s population at 1 July 2009 will be 6.8 billion and by 2050 will be 9.1 billion.

Professor Short, who will speak at the University of Melbourne Festival of Ideas at 3.30pm Tuesday 16 June says the planet is already stretched for resources and space and governments need to instigate population control policies sooner rather than later.

Fellow presenter Professor Rob Moodie, says Australians need to start their own internal carbon trading scheme by “getting out of the car and off the couch at every opportunity”.

Professor Moodie, who is Chair, National Preventative Health Taskforce and Professor of Global Health, Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, says we have the irony of burning too much fossil fuel, but not burning enough of our own personal fuel.

“Addressing climate change will require cultural shifts in the way we treat our planet, the way we treat each other, the way we treat ourselves, and the way we build our cities and towns,” he says.

“We have been lulled into a false sense of sedentariness. One hundred years ago we had to stop our work every so often to rest. Now, because sitting still for long periods increases our risks of heart disease we actually have to get up every few hours and move.”

He says the design of cities and towns must go sub-suburban by re-creating local villages ¬ “metropolettes” – where we can get to shopping, food, recreation, entertainment and schooling on foot.

Home-Grown Remedies for Global Ills will be held in the Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne, from 3.30 ¬ 5pm Tuesday 16 June.

Speakers include Professor Roger Short, Professor Rob Moodie, Sana Nakata (University of Melbourne PhD candidate) and Associate Professor Catherine Bennett (Chair) from the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne.

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