First of all, I will remind you that the main objective of this exercise is to create a terrain model which can be used to estimate the true sustainable population-carrying capacity of the Australian continent at varying standards of living, though it may function afterwards as a design template. It will consist of a map of Australia divided into a lot of relatively small zones for each of which there is a list of appropriate land usages. Within or adjacent to these areas will be a lot of dots, each representing a new or existing settlement which will interact with these land usage areas for productivity, repair, or maintenance, etc. Superimposed on this map will be some larger areas which are water catchments of various sorts. These catchments may feed into rivers, or may just sit there waiting to be used. Examples of the latter include dams and the Great Artesian Basin.
Settlements will not survive in the long term if they are too isolated from the rest of the country and the effectiveness of this model depends upon the support given to these settlements, particularly with regard to transport, communications, health and educational services and so forth. It is clearly never going to be economic to provide a universal set of services to every settlement, so there will need to be some sort of organisation with one settlement acting as a hub to a number of surrounding satellite settlements. If required, these hubs could in turn act as satellites to a secondary hub (probably a regional or capital city). The important point to be made is that connecting services must be established at quite a high level. The key ones will be fast train services (not necessarily the so-called Very Fast Trains, which require dedicated lines) and high-capacity internet services. Roads will, of course, be required, but the specifications could be quite modest in comparison with those of recent structures.
Another point to be emphasised is that the model is dynamic and at any given time, the outcomes will be predicated on the data fed into it. The world we will inhabit in fifty years’ time will almost certainly be significantly different from the one we know today and to obtain optimal results we will be looking to find the best and most efficient layouts, materials and processes. Some of these will be current best practice. Other ones will be the results of research and imaginative design. The model itself may provide signposts as to where research and development should be directed.
This post completes the specification of the model (in very broad terms) and the future discussion will (I hope) be centred around ideas for its improvement, filling in information gaps, identifying instances of best practice and current research projects, putting forward ideas for new research topics and so forth. Any relevant comments and ideas, however off the wall they may be, will be welcome.