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Fenner Conference 2013 – Summing Up

10 October 2013 - 11 October 2013


In Word Doc form, Declaration.docx, and below.


  • the inextricable links between population, resources and climate change
  • that human economic systems are dependent on natural ecological systems
  • that a sustainable future depends on widespread ecological literacy
  • that we are fast approaching the limits to resource (particularly oil) availability and scale of use
  • that we face the prospect of catastrophic climate change that will affect society and the economy irrevocably
  • that the world must keep four-fifths of fossil fuels in the ground, and
  • that global population continues to grow by 80 million, and Australia’s by 400,000 annually of which 60 per cent comes from net overseas migration

…we therefore call on Australians and their governments to

  • develop policies to stabilise Australia’s population
  • end the destruction of habitat
  • develop plans to maintain domestic power, food production and distribution systems, and water and sanitation systems as fossil fuels peak and decline
  • decarbonise our energy supply as a matter of urgency and develop clean energy renewable systems
  • stop coal exports and end subsidies for exploration of oil, gas and coal
  • incorporate the principle of ecological sustainability into core curricula at all levels
  • make contraceptives more freely available and significantly increase the family planning component within Australia’s foreign aid budget.



Presentations from each of the speakers at the Fenner Conference 2013 are available below. They are all in Microsoft Powerpoint format (either ppt or pptx). Some of them are reasonably large files.


Conference Audio

Warning: very large files!


Interviews of speakers

See http://fuzzylogicon2xx.podbean.com/2013/10/13/fast-burn/ – thank you Rod Taylor!

The interview is of Drs Jane O’Sullivan, Haydn Washington, Simon Michaux and Michael Lardelli.Speakers’ Biographies

Keynote Speaker: Professor Paul Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, Stanford, California. He was a pioneer in alerting the public to the problems of overpopulation, and in raising issues of population, resources, and the environment as matters of public policy. He has published 43 books, 13 of which are co-authored with Anne Ehrlich, and more than 600 scientific papers. He rose to international prominence with his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. He has received several honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards including in 2001 the Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America and the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Dr Bob Birrell is Reader in Sociology at Monash University. He was the founding director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research (CPUR) at Monash University and founder and Joint-Editor of the demographic journal People and Place. He has advised successive Australian governments on immigration policy, most recently as part of the Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Categories which reported in 2006. His work covers the environmental, social and economic implications of population growth in Australia. Recent publications include Immigration and the Resources Boom Mark 2, CPUR, 2011, The End of Affordable Housing in Melbourne? CPUR, 2012 and Immigration Overshoot, CPUR, 2012.

Dr Paul Collins is an historian, broadcaster and writer. A Catholic priest for thirty-three years, he resigned from the active priestly ministry in 2001 due to a dispute with the Vatican over his book Papal Power (1997). He is the author of thirteen books the most recent of which, The Birth of the West, was published in New York in February 2013. He is well known as a commentator on Catholicism and the papacy and he also has a strong interest in ethics, environmental and population issues. He has a Master’s degree in theology (Th.M.) from Harvard University, and a PhD in history from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra.

Professor Suzanne Cory, AC is one of Australia’s most distinguished molecular biologists.  She gained her PhD from the University of Cambridge and then continued studies at the University of Geneva before returning to Melbourne in 1971. From 1996 to 2009 she was Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Professor of Medical Biology of The University of Melbourne.  She is currently a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Her research has had a major impact in the fields of immunology and cancer and her scientific achievements have attracted numerous honours and awards.  In 2010 she was elected President of the Australian Academy of Science.

Julian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator. He is principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, food, mining, energy and the environment. His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific editor for The Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for CSIRO, member of numerous scientific boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication. His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 media releases and eight books. He has received 32 awards for journalism. His internationally-acclaimed book The Coming Famine explores the question of whether we can feed humanity through the mid-century peak in numbers and food demand.

Dr Richard Denniss is Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a public policy think tank based in Canberra. An economist by training, Richard has worked for the past 20 years in a variety of policy and political roles. In recent years he has been at the forefront of the national policy debates surrounding climate change policy and the Australian mining boom. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University. Richard has published extensively in academic journals, has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review and was the co-author of the best selling Affluenza (with Dr Clive Hamilton).

Professor Chris Dickman has long been fascinated by patterns in biological diversity and in the factors that affect it. His current work focuses on biota in arid environments and on a range of other projects in applied conservation and management. An ARC Professorial Fellow, Chris has been a prolific trainer of postgraduates, supervising 42 Honours, 37 Masters and 52 PhD students over the last 25 years. He has written or edited 20 books and monographs and authored a further 330 journal articles and book chapters. He is the recipient of several national and international awards, and was the inaugural chair of the NSW Government Scientific Committee from 1996 – 2002.

Dr Rhondda Dickson has been Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) since June 2011. She has over twenty years’ experience working with states and territories in the development and implementation of natural resource management policies. Since joining MDBA, Dr Dickson has led the development of a significant piece of national water reform—the Basin Plan. Her focus has been on striking a genuine balance between the environmental, social and economic needs of the Basin and its people. Prior to joining MDBA, she was closely involved in the development of the National Action Plan for Water Quality and Salinity, national forest policy and national approaches to vegetation management.

Ian Dunlop is a Cambridge educated engineer with a particular interest in the interaction of corporate governance, corporate responsibility and sustainability. He is a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive.  He chaired the Australian Coal Association in 1987-88, chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from 1998-2000 and was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors from 1997-2001.  Mr Dunlop is a Director of Australia21, Chairman of Safe Climate Australia, a Member of the Club of Rome and Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development. He advises internationally on climate, energy and sustainability.

Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC graduated from the Royal Military College into Infantry, serving operationally in Malaya, Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, where he was awarded the Military Cross and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.  From 1993-2000 he was the Governor of Western Australia. From 2003 to 2008 he served as Governor-General of Australia where his key interests were in youth, education and landscape regeneration. He is Chairman of Future Directions International (which he founded), Outcomes Australia, and Soils for Life and is patron of numerous charitable organisations.  He was recently appointed by the Prime Minister as the National Advocate for Soil Health and as the Australian Envoy for The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Dr Michael Lardelli received his Ph.D. in Developmental Genetics from the U.K. Council for National Academic Awards in 1991. After six years of postdoctoral work in Sweden he returned to Australia in 1997 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Genetics at the University of Adelaide where his research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been active in spreading awareness of peak oil since 2004 and worked with Prof. Kjell Aleklett to produce the English version of his book, Peeking at Peak Oil published in 2012. He is currently a member of the executive committee of SPA.

Professor David Lindenmayer is Professor of Ecology at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University. He is a leading conservation biologist, contributing significantly to the understanding of biodiversity, both within Australia and around the world. He specialises in establishing large-scale, long-term research programs that are underpinned by rigorous experimental design, detailed sampling and innovative statistical analyses. David Lindenmayer has published 35 books and over 820 scientific articles on wildlife ecology, forest ecology and management, woodland ecology and conservation biology. He has worked on biodiversity conservation for more than 30 years. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2008 and has won numerous environmental and conservation awards.

Professor Gary Jones is Chief Executive of eWater, a not for profit river basin management and modelling organisation (formerly eWater CRC), and an Adjunct Professor with the University of Canberra, Institute of Applied Ecology. He is also Chairman of the International Riverfoundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to the restoration and protection of the world’s rivers.  Previously he was a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Australia, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT in Boston USA. He is an author of over 100 scientific publications on topics including the chemistry and ecology of toxic blue-green algae, and environmental flows science and management.

Professor Ian Lowe AO is an emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University and is president of the Australian Conservation Foundation. His principal research interests are in policy decisions influencing the use of energy, science and technology; energy use in industrialised countries; large-scale environmental issues and sustainable development. In 1988 he was Director of the Commission for the Future. He chaired an advisory council that produced the first national state of the environment report in 1996, and delivered the ABC Boyer Lectures in 1991. Professor Lowe was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2002 for contributions to environmental science and won the Eureka Prize for the promotion of science.

Professor Tony McMichael AO is Emeritus Professor (Population Health) at ANU. His primary research and policy interests relate to social and environmental influences on health. His work has spanned diet/nutrition and disease, urban air pollution, and environmental lead impacts on child development. Since 1990 he has focused on the population health impacts of human-induced environmental changes, especially climate change. He is an elected member of the US National Academies of Science; has co-chaired scientific assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); and chairs a WHO expert group on joint influences of environment, climate and agriculture in infectious disease emergence. He has published widely on these topics.

Dr Simon Michaux has a Bach App Sc in Physics and Geology and a PhD in mining engineering.  He has worked in the mining industry for 18 years in various capacities. He has worked in industry funded mining research, coal exploration and in the commercial sector in an engineering company as a consultant.  Areas of technical interest have been: Geometallurgy; mineral processing in comminution, flotation and leaching; blasting; mining geology; geophysics; feasibility studies; mining investment; and industrial sustainability.

Sharyn Munro is a ‘literary activist’, reaching beyond the converted with her personal form of nature and environmental writing. Essayist, award-winning short story writer and author of three non-fiction books, she has deep sympathy for the people dispossessed and the places destroyed by the resources rush. Sharyn lives in a solar- powered mudbrick cabin on her Upper Hunter wildlife refuge, where her books The Woman on the Mountain and Mountain Tails are set.  Concern for the future of her grandchildren drove her to research and write the very different Rich Land, Wasteland – how coal is killing Australia, covering coal and CSG (coal seam gas).

Mark O’Connor is a poet and environmentalist.   He is an editor of the Oxford University Press textbook Protected Area Management, author of This Tired Brown Land and co-author of Overloading Australia and of Big Australia? Yes/No (Pantera Press 2012).  He has published more than a dozen books of verse and received several awards. With Judith Wright, he founded Writers for an Ecologically Sustainable Population.  He has taught at James Cook University, University of Aarhus, and the Australian National University, and has been the ANU’s H C Coombs Fellow, and the Museum of Victoria’s Thomas Ramsay Science and Humanities Fellow.

Dr Jane O’Sullivan has had a career as an agricultural scientist, with a focus on soil fertility management in the South Pacific and South East Asia.  She has long been aware of the impacts of population pressure on land resources, and the need to match efforts to increase food production with efforts to limit demand.  Realising that population policy is based on economic claims rather than ecology, she has been researching and writing about population economics since 2008. Her research has challenged widely attested beliefs about the ‘demographic transition’, the impact of ageing on workforce and the ‘3Ps’ of population, participation and productivity. She is most widely recognised for quantifying the infrastructure cost of population growth rate.

Professor Hugh Possingham is Professor of Mathematics and Professor of Ecology, University of Queensland, Director of The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the Director of the National Environmental Research Program Hub. He also sits on 16 committees and boards outside the University including the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists (founding member). He and Dr Barry Traill wrote “The Brigalow Declaration”, used by Premier Beattie to stop land clearing in Queensland, thereby securing at least 1 billion tonnes of CO2.  The Possingham lab developed the most widely used conservation planning software in the world – Marxan – which was used to underpin the

rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Michael Raupach works on Earth System science, carbon-climate-human interactions, land-air interactions, and fluid mechanics.  He is based at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.  He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and the American Geophysical Union.  From 2000 to 2008 he was an inaugural co-chair of the Global Carbon Project of the Earth System Science Partnership; in 2010 he chaired the Expert Working Group reporting to the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) on “Challenges at Energy-Water-Carbon Intersections”; and in 2010-2013 he led the Australian Academy of Science project “Negotiating our future: living scenarios for Australia to 2050”.

Professor Roger Short completed his BVSc at the University of Bristol, a Masters in Genetics at the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge where he was Reader in Reproductive Biology. In 1972 he was appointed Foundation Director of the Medical Research Council Unit of Reproductive Biology in Edinburgh. In 1982 he was appointed to a Personal Chair in Reproductive Biology at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and in 1995 to a Professorial Fellowship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, where he is now an Honorary Professorial Fellow. He has published over 350 scientific papers in a wide variety of scientific journals, and “Ever Since Adam and Eve: the Evolution of Human Sexuality” (Cambridge University Press) in 1999.

Kelvin Thomson MP, a former Member of the Victorian Parliament, has been Federal Member for Wills since 1996. He held a number of Shadow portfolios during the Howard years including Shadow Environment Minister between 2001 and 2004 when he was responsible for Labor’s adoption of policies to tackle climate change including ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, introduction of an emissions trading system, and lifting the Renewable Energy Target. In 2009, he kick-started a national debate concerning Australia’s population with a speech to Parliament and the release of a 14 Point Plan for Population Reform. He was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary for Trade in February 2013.

Dr Haydn Washington is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW. He is an environmental scientist and with a thirty five year history in environmental science. He has worked extensively within environmental non-government organisations, including being a councillor on the ACF for four terms and secretary of the Colo Committee, which led the campaign to create Wollemi National Park.  As an environmental writer, he has written five books on the environment – Ecosolutions: environmental solutions for the world and Australia (1991), A sense of Wonder (2002), The Wilderness Knot (2009), Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (2011) and Human Dependence on Nature (2013). He is keenly interested in why societies deny environmental problems.


10 October 2013
11 October 2013
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