A book review
With a scant 21 million people on the vast continent of Australia, how could anyone state with any certitude that Oz suffers from human overpopulation? What impudence might that take? How out of touch? How completely absurd? Definitely not ‘fair dinkum’!
China features not much more land mass than Oz but houses 1.3 billion souls. The United States--at least the lower 48 states--equals about the same land mass, but houses 306 million people. Mexico, less than a quarter the size of Australia, features 108 million people.
So what’s the problem? How could there be a snag? Australia encompasses an endless amount of land. It features 2,970,000 square miles of terra firma. How do I know? In 1984 through 1985, I cycled 17,000 kms around Australia including Tasmania. One Aussie, after learning that I intended to cycle the entire perimeter of Australia said, “Well Yank, you must be dead from the neck up!” I answered, “Yes, but it’s a great adventure.” He responded, “Do you know what the Nullabor Plains means?” I said, “No.” He said, “It means treeless for 2,000 kms and 40 degrees C. every day. You’ll fry in the heat!”
None the less, I traveled from Sydney down the Princess Highway to Melbourne; sailed over to Tasmania, up the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles, to Ceduna and across the Nullabor Plains (treeless) and on to Esperance and then to Perth, onward to Port Headlands and upward to Darwin. From there to Cairns and back down to Sydney! What did I see and how did I feel? I fried in the saddle and sweated while I slept at night under the Southern Cross. Withering heat at 120+ degrees F. daily! I stopped at the Great Australian Bite, saw Bondi’s boat that beat the Yanks in the Americas Cup, viewed the Pinnacles of Cervantes, rode past the ant castles, witnessed the ‘prison boab tree’ near Port Headlands and watched the big alligators in Darwin. A frilled lizard scared the daylights out of me near Tenant Creek and I dove on the Great Barrier Reef. I read A.F. Facey’s “A Fortunate Life.” I’m still friends with John Brown in Kiama and Lance Hill in Perth. I’ve backpacked with Lance in Nepal and push-biked across the USA with John. I love Oz and its people.
So why does Australia suffer an overpopulation crisis? From my firsthand experiences, I am here to tell you: desert and sand cover 95 percent of Australia. No water and no arable land! It’s a wasteland with kangaroos, emus, wombats and stray camels eking out their existences in the devil’s horrid heat. When I traveled Oz, it featured 14 million people which it could support. Today, at 21 million, it’s on the edge of its own non-sustainable future. Australians might fool Mother Nature in the short term, but they cannot in the long run. Oz doesn’t possess water or arable land needed to grow food thus to sustain a large human population. That’s a brutal fact!
However, powerful governmental, capitalistic and growth oriented organizations expect to push Australia’s population to 50 million tortured souls. Much the same holds true in the United States and other countries where ‘growthists’ disregard reality and push human populations beyond the ability of the land and water to sustain them. How do they do it? They promote unlimited immigration from other countries that have already exceeded their carrying capacities---and simply exhaust their excess humanity onto the shores of Australia and other countries that possess stable populations. The third world grows by a net gain of 77 million annually, so the line never ends. That alone should give any Oz citizen pause!
The author Mark O’Connor of Overloading Australia, lamented, “I found this book almost impossible to write.” He found the fortitude to finish the project only after teaming with his co-author, conservationist William J. Lines.
With electrifying clarity, O’Connor and Lines spell out a sobering future for Australia. Any kangaroo could figure out what the ‘kangaroo’ government in Canberra cannot seem to grasp! As one man who has seen more of Australia than 95 percent of Australians, I can vouch for the fact that Oz does not possess the farmland or the water to sustain any more population.
“Rightwing growthists demand endless growth of ‘the economy’ backed by endless population growth,” O’Connor said. “Forced since late 2006 to accept a serious public debate about water supplies and about how to maintain ‘growth’ without increasing greenhouse gases, they are nevertheless determined to scotch any discussion about limiting growth.”
I found it exceedingly exasperating that the ‘very’ people in charge of Australia’s future, like Prime Minister Rudd in 2008, did and does not understand the consequences of his/their own actions. He promotes a “Faustian Bargain’ on every citizen in Australia that will force a “Hobson’s Choice.”
“Rudd announced a million news homes would need to be built over the next six years to house the influx [of people] he did not venture to question,” Lines said.
Where might that influx originate? Answer: Australia immigrates roughly 300,000 people annually into its dry and dusty desert country.
“There is a powerful lobby concerned not with whether human life or that of other species would be better in a ‘larger’ Australia, but with profits!” O’Connor said.
What ‘growthists’ create stems from that “Faustian Bargain” or selling their souls to the devil of growth for the present to place everyone into an environmental and unsustainable ‘hell’ later. Once another five or ten million Australians manifest on that desert continent, everyone suffers “Hobson’s Choice”: if you pick door number A—you walk through and over a cliff. If you pick door number B—you walk through and sink into quicksand. In other words, all your choices lead to death of your civilization.
How do I know that? My cycling travels across six continents have given me a bird’s eye view of death from overloaded countries. Over 18 million people starve to death or die of starvation related diseases every year. Over 10 million of them are children under the age of 12 years.
“’Business as usual’ desires even more people each demanding more from a finite Nature. A sustainable future is one in which human demands on the natural environment are within the capacity of that environment to meet. It means living within a boundary set by Nature. As we are already well beyond that boundary, it means reducing our population and our per capita demand. Both! Not one or the other!” John Coulter, author “Population and Sustainability: A Global Role for Australia.” Australian Options
Part 2: Population vs. per capita
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com