The grass is greener in Perth, a water-scarce city adjusting to climate change

• April 11, 2012
Lawn of grass in Australia

Creative Commons: Scott Davies, 2008

The capital of Western Australia, Perth, is at the epicenter of global climate change. The city’s strategic response offers lessons about climate change mitigation, exacerbation and adaptation. The lessons are acutely relevant to the United States, particularly California.

The grass is greener and there’s lots of it in Perth, as residents who once called Great Britain home recreated lush landscapes with sprawling lawns, tidy gardens, and enormous parks. That Great Britain’s climate is cold and wet while Perth’s is hot and arid has not dampened Perth’s love affair with lawns. Nor has the soil, which is as sandy as a Florida beach rather than as loamy as an English countryside.

This fetish for lawns didn’t matter decades ago, when Perth, which is as far from Sydney and Melbourne as Los Angeles is from New York and Washington, was a sleepy backwater with a small population. But the market for resources in Western Australia (led by iron ore, petroleum, gold, and alumina to feed China’s insatiable demand) has spurred population growth. Perth has become Australia’s fourth largest city with 1.7 million people, many of whom “fly in, fly out” to their jobs at mines hours away by jet.

Read More: National Geographic >>

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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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