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The Political Ecology of Soil and Species Conservation in a 'Big Australia'


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Kirkpatrick, JB ORCID: 0000-0003-2763-2692 2011 , 'The Political Ecology of Soil and Species Conservation in a 'Big Australia'' , Geographical Research, vol. 49, no. 3 , pp. 276-285 , doi: 10.1111/j.1745-5871.2011.00696.x.

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Is the ‘Big Australia’ vision of a populous, prosperous Australian nation in 2050
compatible with the maintenance of productive soils and/or the maintenance of
native species? This paper considers the implications of current tendencies in soil
and species conservation and suggests some ways to avoid the more negative of
them. Current land use in Australia is mining the soils on slopes. It seems likely
that deposits of rock phosphate will be close to depletion by 2050, making
fertilisers that are essential for industrial agriculture very expensive. Petroleum,
which is converted into most of the food traded globally, seems also likely to be
near depletion and expensive. The prospective substitution of coal for oil promises
interesting changes to the global earth-atmosphere system. Nevertheless, under an
optimistic business as usual scenario, Australia probably could feed 36 million
people in 2050, but not necessarily for very much longer. Thus, a ‘Big Australia’
in 2050 could be a way station on the road to a human population crash. The
conservation of Australian native species has been hindered by frequent changes
in all of funding, bureaucratic structure and scientific dogma. The political and
social processes that support a growth economy encourage such short term thinking.
A transition to long term thinking will be necessary if support systems for
humans and other species are to be maintained.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Kirkpatrick, JB
Journal or Publication Title: Geographical Research
ISSN: 1745-5863
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/j.1745-5871.2011.00696.x
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