Experts in the Media

Rocky Scopelliti – WAToday

Futurologist | Professor | Best Selling Author | Board Director | Chief Scientist

A major problem on Perth’s fringe could see city haunted by ‘ghost suburbs’

Largely treeless residential housing estates on Perth’s urban fringe could be abandoned and transformed into “ghost suburbs” as climate change makes the city less hospitable, according to grim predictions.

Futurologist Rocky Scopelliti said while Perth basked in the sunshine of record immigration and a booming housing market, its potential transformation into a “ghost metropolis” should prompt a rethink by policymakers on how we make the city sustainable.

Scopelliti said factors that could trigger a significant population decline in Perth over the next 30 to 100 years included climate change and water scarcity, which would leave the city’s sprawling suburbs vulnerable.

“Worsening droughts and extreme weather events, as predicted by the Western Australian Planning Commission in 2014, could make Perth less habitable and attractive to residents,” he said.

“Perth has finite freshwater resources, a concern highlighted by the Department of Water, which could become a major constraint for Perth’s growth, limiting its ability to sustain a large population.”

Sustained growth of the economy and population has seen the state’s water use double since the mid-1980s.

At the same time, climate change has intensified, with reductions in rainfall causing historically low inflows to dams.

Perth-based regenerative scientist Bernard Callus said water scarcity posed a challenge with Perth’s population predicted to balloon from 2.1 million to more than 4 million by 2026, making it the third-largest city in Australia.