The Changing Nature of the Beach for Low Carbon Societies: The Australian Case

By Adrian Franklin, Felicity Picken and Nicholas Osbaldiston.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Responding to John Urry’s call (in Climate Change and Society, 2011) to think about the implications of consumption and travel in the design of low carbon societies, this paper considers how the challenge to devise more localized forms of vacationing will impact Australian beach and beach cultures. Australian society is spatially concentrated on the coastal margins (75% live within 40kms of the coast and 25% live within 3kms), and yet, currently it is one of the highest consumers of vacationing based on flights to international locations, often to beach resorts. Current research on climate change and the beach is dominated by adaptation research, which models likely changes to geomorphology and built environments based on sea level rise. This has predicted an overall human retreat from the coast as a likely response; yet, this has not taken into account other important adaptations to climate change such as the localization of leisure and tourism. This paper argues that since Australians are unlikely to turn to their arid and agricultural interiors, it will be the coast that becomes a new and more intensive vacationing zone. Based on what we know of the previous era of mass beach consumption in the mid-twentieth century and what we know about contemporary Australian tourism and tourists, this paper identifies the likely dimensions and practices of beach cultures for a low-carbon Australia.

Keywords: Low Carbon Societies, Australian Beach and Coast, Localization of Vacationing, Tourism and Travel, Consumption

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 327.761KB).

Adrian Franklin

Professor of Sociology, School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Recent books by Professor Adrian Franklin include Tourism (Sage), Nature and Social Theory (Sage), City Life (Sage), and Retro (University of New South Wales Press 2012; Bloomsbury 2013). He has published widely in the area of consumption cultures, travel and tourism theory, human - animal studies, and the social bond in contemporary societies. His research interests include biology, technology and society; the sociology of tourism and nature; posthumanism, human - animal relations; social theory; tourism, travel and mobilities; collecting cultures; and nature cultures.

Dr. Felicity Picken

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Felicity Picken is a postdoctoral research fellow whose interests coalesce around the application of relational materialism to contemporary phenomena. She has published in posthumanism, actor-network theory, tourism, coastal Australia, urban design and architecture and is currently developing a program of blue sociology including scuba diving and subjectivity, underwater habitats, climate change and aquaria.

Dr. Nicholas Osbaldiston

Lecturer in Sociology, School of Applied Media and Social Sciences, Monash University, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia

Nick Osbaldiston is a sociologist who has predominantly researched and published in the field of Lifestyle Migration research including a 2012 monograph through Palgrave Macmillan entitled Seeking Authenticity in Place, Culture and Self. His work has concentrated on the cultural narratives of this broad movement analysed mostly through the ‘strong’ cultural sociology program developed by the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology. However, Nick has also published on areas such as technology and education, tourism and the politics and culture of slow movements.

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