Australians take more than their fair share from the planet

IF EVERYONE on the globe lived the way Australians do, we would need three planet Earths to support our global population.

This is the view of USQ ecologist Dr Andy Le Brocque, highlighting that Australians are living beyond Earth's capacity to support mankind.

The environmental science and sustainability lecturer Dr Le Brocque is one of two experts talking at USQ Fraser Coast on Friday, August 2, and Sunday, August 4, covering the topic "Eating sustainably: what is the health cost of fast food?"

Dr Le Brocque said Australia currently has an average ecological footprint of 6.7 global hectares (g/ha) per person and was the eighth highest in the world with regard to cost on the environment.

The average Australian footprint of 6.7 g/ha is equivalent to 15 football fields per person, per year, he said.

Dr Le Brocque said the global average footprint was 2.7 g/ha per person, which means Australia's footprint is more than two and a half times higher than the global average. "More than half of the average Australian's footprint comes from greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity," he said.

"One surprising area is our consumption of fast food.

"While one popular takeaway hamburger only weighs 200 grams, it has been estimated that the production, transport and storage of the burger's components, its assembly and final sale can generate up to 5kg of greenhouse gases."

Joining Dr Le Brocque at the USQ Fraser Coast Creating Waves and Open Day lectures will be USQ's biomedical scientist Professor Lindsay Brown.

Professor Brown's talk will look at the health risks associated with a fast food diet, and USQ's studies on interventions with foods that may reverse these risks.

The lecture series on August 2 and open day on August 4 are held in partnership with the Hervey Bay Whale Festival and Fraser Coast Regional Council.