Open letter to Federal MP Kelvin Thompson and the ACF

To whom it may concern,

In response to the ACF media release “Population boom will bust environment and quality of life” (22 September 2009):

The opinion presented is overly simplistic and inherently flawed as several of the implicit assumptions cannot be backed up by robust arguments. Exposing the nationalist agenda of this statement is in the interests of fairness in informing a free-thinking, democratic society. A nationalistic perspective on climate change is inconsistent with the inexorably global nature and scale of the manifold impacts of a modified climate.

This argument neglects the real issue behind Australia’s greenhouse gas intensity, which is the carbon-dependency that characterises the Australian way of life. The forecast growth in emissions due to population growth assumes business as usual electricity generation and climate policy. Neither Federal MP Kelvin Thompson nor the ACF postulate a wholesale transition to renewable energy, which indicates that a focus on population is being used as a dangerous and inflammatory diversion. We know that the overwhelming factor contributing to Australia’s disproportionately large carbon footprint is its coal dependence, and that the reluctance to embrace a large-scale transition to renewable energy is the major impediment to rectifying this abomination.

The claims made by MP Thompson and endorsed by the ACF are ultimately divisive and will inevitably lead to partisan segregation among climate and environmental groups. They jeopardise the unity of the climate movement as a whole in an era when the imminent and unprecedented impacts of climate change demand a strong and unified movement. Moreover, supporting the position of xenophobic and exclusionary immigration policy jeopardises the continued credibility of ACF claims among an increasingly socially conscious population.

Additionally, the omission of a critique of the Federal Government’s baby bonus scheme exposes the hypocrisy of targeting immigration as the cause of increasing global warming pressures. This indicates an opposition to migrants rather than to more people in general, to which conclusions of a racist motive can be drawn. Increased birth rates add to the human population while migration merely moves it. As much as the nationalist agenda may assert, climate change does not in fact, begin and end at Australia’s borders.

It is particularly obtuse to consider climate change in isolation from humanitarian issues. Australia, a country that has become rich by punching well above its weight in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, has a moral obligation to resettle migrants that are displaced by climate change impacts, who represent the people who have contributed the least to historic emissions but will suffer the most.

Denying this nation of the unmeasurable value of diversity that comes from immigration will be to the detriment of Australian culture. More importantly (but usually ignored) is the benefit of the invaluable crisis management skills provided by refugees, survivors of oppression, war, and famine. These are precisely the skills that will be called upon in the adaptation to a more hostile climate.

Finally, there is a distinct possibility that Australia will be a source of climate change refugees rather than a sink. Science warns that Australia will be one of the countries worst affected by climate change. The "lucky country" mentality embedded within the anti-immigration argument confounds the reality that there is no guarantee that conditions will be better here than elsewhere. There is also no indication that Australian nationals won’t be the ones to seek refuge, leading to a mass exodus in the face of extreme heatwaves, perpetual drought, disease etc. Australia has many regions in which population pressures are non-existent. Should States that are less affected by climate change guard their borders against internal refugees in the way that MP Thompson and the ACF are proposing?

Yours sincerely,

Sana Bau



Dear Sana Bau, With respect I think you fail to see that that the debate is not about an "exclusive and xenophobic " immigration policy. It is about debunking the myth about the beauty and efficacy of endless population and economic growth. In the human body such unbridled growth is called a cancer. Ethiopia a famine ridden country has experienced a population growth in the last fifty years of 20 million to 80 million people _ are you supporting that kind of mad growth and would you like to see an arid land like Australia experience similar growth and have civil wars fought here over our scarce resources- Melb. city water dams are at 30% and Syd. is at 56% with summer coming ! We would all like to help everybody but we need to be real and factual ( sientific )We certainly don't need to attribute racism to people's viewpoints automatically. By the same token why should't people experince both pride and shame in the history of their country Love and best wishes Peter