Saturday, April 21, 2007

Running on Empty

Mmm, it seems the water situation in Australia is somewhat dire. When “citified” people hear or read about “drought” it is usually a vague notion conjured up by easily switched off images on the TV of dry, dusty paddocks somewhere “out there”, perhaps the minor inconvenience of having to water the lawn by hand while waiting for the automatic washing machine to run through its cycles.

Canberra are now telling us that unless there is “significant” rainfall within the next six weeks, ALL mainland cities will be on Level 5 water restrictions – household use only – and that all water allocations in the Murray-Darling irrigation system will cease.

The taps in the food-bowl will be turned off.

Gives one pause for thought to think that 40% of Australia's food production comes from the Murray-Darling basin. Without water we cannot grow Fruit, vegetables, milk. The towns, already struggling, that supply and support the irrigation systems and communities – will collapse.

It will be bad enough for the vegetable growers, and yearly crops that grow from seed, but the stone-fruit trees, citrus, vines – once dead, will take six to seven years to re-establish.

A perspective for overseas readers.

The Murray-Darling irrigation area is the pale bit on the right..and as for most of the rest of it, well, no significant rainfall or rivers out there.

Can see the opportunity for the rise of new industries. Backyard stills made out of beer barrels and sheets of plastic to recycle “piss water”. No worries about fuel to fire them with, will be plenty of dead trees around.

New forms of food production. Crocodile, Kangaroo and Emu farms. Bush Tucker restaurants, recipe books. Aboriginal guides taking foragers inland.

Wee Johnny is also asking us to “pray for rain”. Who to? Perhaps he can use the $10 billion that should have been spent on the system 10 years ago to build a series of cathedrals dedicated to the “Church of Huey”, or we can begin sacrificing virgins on hilltops.

Won't affect the politicians or “elites” much, they will still survive on imported champagne, caviar and Evian water. And since, for the past ten years the major focus of this current Administration has been on promoting and supporting the “mining” sector - and military exploits abroad - while neglecting Primary Industry and climate change .. Government Fridge magnet Recipes for Coal soup, Uranium sauce, Iron rations - to be taken with a Liberal dose of salt.


Peter said...

Well said Davo, I posted the map a while ago but without the Murray Darling basin highlighted, might pinch it and re-post sometime.

BBC said...

Whatever, I don't have piped in water here. I have a rain barrel and pack a little water from the neighbors house if I need more.

If I would put up more rain gutters I would always have most of the water I can use being as I only use a few gallons a day.

Water the grass, to hell with that, then I have to mow it.

Yves said...

Wow that puts my grouse in proportion. I was going to complain that it takes a while to reach your site from here - perhaps an extra long wire under the sea from Australia to England carrying the binary digits and pixels, or perhaps there is some customs check to ensure that the data transmitted is free from any diseases which may affect Australian crops and wildlife. Or the department of Irrigation is making sure that your blog is not conveying much-needed moisture out of the country.

In America the bees are all buzzing away from their hives and not coming back, as if on strike for all the unpaid pollination they have been doing for centuries with no reward other than having their honey stolen from them.

More seriously, we can begin to see how wise James Lovelock was in his book about Gaia. The amazing thing is not when Nature "goes wrong" - from our narrow perspective - but how meticulously it has been sustaining life, except when hindered by its own most-meddling creatures.

Davo said...

Yer, Petr, should have mentioned that the "main" map came from your site (some time ago) but have pinched the Murray-Darling bit from another map and pasted it on, dunno how accurate it is.

You might have more rainfall than us over your way, BBC, and prettier scenery .. but seem to recall that you are sitting on top a bittuva fracture in the Earth's crust. Would prefer to wait for the inevitable rain, however long it takes, thanks.

Yves, the Murray-Darling river system has ALWAYS dried to a trickle during summer. We've just built dams and weirs along it, and fooled ourselves into thinking that it flowed all year round.

There's nothing unusual or wrong about it, only humans thinking that they can control it.

Fleming said...

This is the kind of important news we often don't get in the U.S. (and elsehwere I'm sure). Keep us foreigners posted.

GreenSmile said...

any time I see weather defeating humans, I assume the weather has changed from its accustomed patterns...god knows the people never change theirs.

Do your Aussie meterologists have any accounting for the drought. Do the initials GW play into any of the accounting?

The way we screwed up our desert SW water situation was to base all plans [and a wildly opptimistic amount of new construction of golf courses] on three or four uncharacteristically wet decades.