Climate Change and what we might do locally


Take Paradise and make it a parking (or housing) lot.

Development around St Leonards began as a result of using the Bellarine Peninsula as a source of firewood for Melbourne in the 1850s. A pier was built in 1855. The town consisted of a hotel, store and six houses in 1858.

Australia’s population has grown from an estimated population of around 500,000 or so at the time of British settlement in 1788. Since the end of the Second World War Australia’s population has more than doubled, from around 7,500,00 to around 28,000,00 today. If we keep increasing, 30 -40 million people will inhabit Australia within our grandchildren’s lifetime, unless Climate Change or other disasters intervene.

World population rate increased significantly after the industrial revolution. By 1950, around 2.5 billion people on earth. Since 1950, the total number of people on the planet has tripled to 7.6 billion today.

The on-going Amazon fires, presently much more intense and widespread than usual, destroy huge sections of the world’s largest rain forest. Their disastrous impact is consistent with what has been happening world-wide for millennia. In Australia too, forests, seas and lands have been impacted first by Aboriginal land use and ever so much more after European settlement in order to meet immediate needs for food, shelter and industry.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make it harder for the Earth to radiate an equal amount of the heat energy that comes from the Sun back into space. This retained heat increases the temperature of the Earth’s surface, ocean and atmosphere.

Because we burn much more fossil fuels and change land use patterns – forest to farms to deserts – the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising and causing surface temperatures – land and oceans – to increase. This will continue until enough extra heat can escape to space to re-balance.

Without any greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface would be much colder – an average temperature of around minus 18 °C. Before industrialisation the incoming sunlight and outgoing heat were balanced. The World’s average temperatures were fairly steady – around plus 15 °C.

This climate change will see rising average temperatures, extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, see and a range of other impacts.

Climate and population issues are connected. The curves of population growth and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since 1880 almost precisely follow each other. Population growth automatically increases energy consumption, which in turn means increased greenhouse gas emissions- Overpopulation. See also United Nations Report

A dampened population growth in the world would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long term by 40 percent or more, according to a study in The Lancet from 2012. CO2 emissions from energy use respond almost proportionately to changes in population size.

Current responses to Climate Change focus on renewable energy, phasing out the use of coal and other fossil fuels, electric vehicles and clean energy technologies. These responses are necessary but on their own are far from adequate. Actions to contain and reverse population increase are missing. Unsustainable population growth is the root cause of our Climate Change crisis.

To quote from a Paper on the website of Australia’s Chief Scientist -” Based on data from typical perennial grasslands and mature forests in Australia, forests are typically more than 10 times as effective as grasslands at storing carbon on a hectare per hectare basis.” “Agriculture and forestry hold great potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through afforestation, soil-carbon management, and better management of livestock and cropping emissions -Action within the next decade to lower greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the probability and severity of climate change impacts. Aust Gov Chief Scientist

To deal with the threat to our existence posed by Climate Change, surely we should look first to what we need to do personally and locally. Ever increasing urbanisation, which sees forests replaced with houses and shopping centres and industry, is the biggest threat we face locally.

Urban development must be confined to existing areas – no further alienation of forest or farming land. Greater density and even high rise housing will see loss of local amenity but the ongoing expansion of housing estates is totally unsustainable.

We should also seek to direct attention, urgently, to the pressing need to reduce population growth – locally, nationally and world wide. Government’s focus must be on substantially reducing immigration levels, assisting communities World-wide with education, family planning and effective and readily accessible birth control programs. Foreign Aid programs should be substantially about reducing population growth – effectively, humanely and ethically.

We can’t return to the Sportsman’s Paradise – maybe we can survive?