CSIRO Publishing, December 2009. 184 pages, paperback, colour photographs, maps.
Stafford-Smith, Mark and Julian Cribb.
With the knowledge from our deserts, Australians can reshape the human story. The desert is teaching us new ways to live, manage slender resources, and cope with lack of water and energy, harsh climate and isolation.
These issues will confront most of the world’s citizens in the 21st Century, as climate change, population growth and resource scarcity impact on society. The deserts also teach us what it is to be Australian, how to dwell within the rhythms and constraints of a vast continent that is three quarters arid. Australians find it hard to decide about the Outback: is it remote and unassailable or at the core of our national identity?
Endlessly we debate whether we should develop the inland, or ignore it, because it’s too hard and too costly. Learning how to live well in desert Australia lies at the heart of our destiny as a nation, and at the centre of our response to climate change. It engages the culture, knowledge and skills that will matter most to future Australians as they strive to sustain themselves in world on the edge of sustainability. It is the ultimate test of our resolve to discover a truly Australian way to live on this continent. As the world faces increasing drought in the uncertain climate of the future, it is also a source of knowledge to export to many other places.
This book is a wake-up call to Australia and the world. It explores wellsprings of creativity and innovation from the desert that can deliver solutions to the challenges of living in an uncertain and threatening future. It describes many positive lessons for our nation and humanity in a changing and resource-scarce world.