Geography lessons

Australia’s Population

Australia’s population and issues of migration, sustainability and urban planning is a current debate, brought to the consciousness of the general public in the lead up to the Federal election of August 2010.

Year 10 Geographers are required to analyse current population trends and projections and the effects of these population trends and projections for ecological sustainability and urban planning.

Australia’s current population ABS Population clock

Why is migration a topic of debate?  There are three factors that contribute to the growth of our population: fertility rates, life expectancy and net migration.  Click this link to open a Powerpoint presentation we discussed in class on migration facts

Think human rights and you will understand why there is little we can do about our fertility rate and life expectancy.  This leaves migration as the factor of population growth that we can control.

Population trends

Significant population trends :

  1. The increase in our population size
  2. The ageing of the population with reduced fertility rates, the baby boomer generation retiring with longer life expectancies.
  3. Migration to capital cities and coastal areas

For analysis of population trends see ABS Population by Age, Sex and State

Population Flows 2008-2009 Australian Dept Immigration and Citizenship

Population Issues

What impact of population trends on ecological sustainability and urban planning?

Is a larger population ecologically sustainable? Our natural resources including water and land are limited.  An increased population requires water, food and housing.  Land clearing for housing results in a loss of land for food production, it can also result in land degradation.  Australians per capita consumption of water and energy is  high.  An increased population requires us to look for ways to be more efficient in our use of water and energy.  We will need to look to renewable energy sources.  We also need to minimise our waste and pollution which has degraded our environments.  Examples of environments that have been degraded include: coastal environments that have been altered by stormwater pollution, wetlands that have been converted to housing and industrial sites, river systems that have had inadequate “environmental flow“.

What urban planning is required in response to our changing population?  Demographics of human population dynamics can be conceptualised as a triangle with the three sides of population size, population structure and population distribution.  Demographic changes in the structure of households with older and single person households and households without children require other housing options.  The high costs of urban sprawl including the cost of providing public services, the reduction in air quality as a result of increased dependency on car travel and the social cost of locational disadvantage.  The NSW government is pursuing strategies of urban consolidation to encourage development of medium and high density housing within existing urban areas with access to public transport, closer to places of work and recreational facilities.

The Population Debate

Considering varying viewpoints in the debate about how big a population Australia can sustain.

Sustainable Population Australia is lobbying that our environment cannot continue to sustain our population growth.

Population Puzzle has been produced by Dick Smith has part of lobbying for a more sustainable population plan for Australia.

An economics commentary on immigration


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