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groups c onnecting social justice, ecolog y,
democracy and nonviolence – along with
the pollution, social problems and financial
unc ertainties of the post-GFC world. Brazil
is pioneering social innovations, while
growing as the world’s sixth largest economy,
now overta king the economy of Brita in.
So how do BRIC countries compare
with, say, Australia , in their conc ern about
the environment? As it turn s out, in a sur vey
of c onsumers registering concern about
the environment, Au stra lians didn’t rate
very highly. The honour of very concerned
citizens went to those from – Bra zil, India
a nd China , with honourable mentions
from Mexico and South Korea (sometimes
spoken about a s similar to BR IC economies)
a nd Argentina. It may be that proximity to
environmenta l haz ards focus es attention.
The Greendex survey found 70-79 % of
consumers in China, India and Brazil had
concerns about global wa rming.
So how will the climbing population of
the world, a nd the rise of the BRIC countries,
impact on our ability to feed ourselve s, a nd
provide enough water for our future ?
There is talk about Austra lia being
an Asian (read Indian and Chinese) Food
Bowl. There is talk of opening up Northern
Australia with massive irrigation projects.
There is growing concern about the farm
being sold off, giving food security to other
nations, but little debate ab out where this is
taking us, or the environment.
In thinking of our future, it would be
simple to think the world might be simply
drawn between the Chinese and the
America ns, but our diplomacy and thinking
ahead needs better than a binary Cold War
approach. In a world of BRIC, there may be
two, three, four, five or si x major players.
Australian s live downunder in a corner
of the world that is not particularly on the
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way to anywhere else (except New Zealand!)
There are desperate cries from drowning
people aboard leaky vessel s, but other wise
the world doesn’t touch us much. And so it
is easy to think that the world can go on and
we will get on in our own way.
But the world is not like that. When
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State,
and Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defence,
dropped by Perth in November 2012, they
weren’t being just sociable. US military
planes – including those capable of carrying
nuclear weapons – are to have greater access
to northern Australian airstrips, a nd nuclear
US warships including an aircraft carrier or
two will sail into C ockburn Sound’s blue
waters south of Perth a nd enjoy the f acilities.
All low key. All softly softly. But the friends
eating fria nds at Fraser’s Re staurant,
atop Kings Park overlooking Perth last
November, c elebrated military manoeuvring
with decades of c onsequenc e.
function, if not name – for the US, and
managing land growing food for China
or India, selling wheat as well to Russia,
based in our northern half, then there are
con sequences environmentally for all of
us, and our children. The rise of BRIC may
throw up new problems , but it could al so
be a rich generator of ideas and solutions . This
should make us stop and think, while it is still
all in the making – and not yet made.
‘China is building coal fire
power stations, but it is also
becoming a world leader in
wind and solar power.’
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