Australia's epic drought: The situation is grim

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sLuGhUnTeR

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Apr 20, 2007, 2:30:16 AM4/20/07
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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/australasia/article2465960.ece

Australia's epic drought: The situation is grim
By Kathy Marks in Sydney
Published: 20 April 2007

Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply
to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought
- heralding what could be the first climate change-driven disaster to
strike a developed nation.

The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent
of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed
the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough
water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst
drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed
to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake
up to the severity of the position.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic,
delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there
is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation
will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice,
cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will
die, along with livestock.

A ban on irrigation, which would remain in place until May next year,
spells possible ruin for thousands of farmers, already debt-laden and
in despair after six straight years of drought.

Lovers of the Australian landscape often cite the poet Dorothea
Mackellar who in 1904 penned the classic lines: "I love a sunburnt
country, a land of sweeping plains." But the land that was Mackellar's
muse is now cracked and parched, and its mighty rivers have shrivelled
to sluggish brown streams. With paddocks reduced to dust bowls,
graziers have been forced to sell off sheep and cows at rock-bottom
prices or buy in feed at great expense. Some have already given up,
abandoning pastoral properties that have been in their families for
generations. The rural suicide rate has soared.

Mr Howard acknowledged that the measures are drastic. He said the
prolonged dry spell was "unprecedentedly dangerous" for farmers, and
for the economy as a whole. Releasing a new report on the state of the
Murray and Darling, Mr Howard said: "It is a grim situation, and there
is no point in pretending to Australia otherwise. We must all hope and
pray there is rain."

But prayer may not suffice, and many people are asking why crippling
water shortages in the world's driest inhabited continent are only now
being addressed with any sense of urgency.

The causes of the current drought, which began in 2002 but has been
felt most acutely over the past six months, are complex. But few
scientists dispute the part played by climate change, which is making
Australia hotter and drier.

Environmentalists point to the increasing frequency and severity of
drought-causing El Niño weather patterns, blamed on global warming.
They also note Australia's role in poisoning the Earth's atmosphere.
Australians are among the world's biggest per-capita energy consumers,
and among the top producers of carbon dioxide emissions. Despite that,
the country is one of only two industrialised nations - the United
States being the other - that have refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto
protocol. The governments argue that to do so would harm their
economies.

Until a few months ago, Mr Howard and his ministers pooh-poohed the
climate-change doomsayers. The Prime Minister refused to meet Al Gore
when he visited Australia to promote his documentary, An Inconvenient
Truth. He was lukewarm about the landmark report by the British
economist Sir Nicholas Stern, which warned that large swaths of
Australia's farming land would become unproductive if global
temperatures rose by an average of four degrees.

Faced with criticism from even conservative sections of the media, Mr
Howard realised that he had misread the public mood - grave faux pas
in an election year. Last month's report by the UN Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change predicted more frequent and intense bushfires,
tropical cyclones, and catastrophic damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
The report also said there would be up to 20 per cent more droughts by
2030. And it said the annual flow in the Murray-Darling basin was
likely to fall by 10-25 per cent by 2050. The basin, the size of
France and Spain combined, provides 85 per cent of the water used
nationally for irrigation.

While the government is determined to protect Australia's coal
industry, the drought is expected to shave 1 per cent off annual
growth this year. The farming sector of a country that once "rode the
sheep's back" to prosperity is in desperate straits. With dams and
reservoirs drying up, many cities and towns have been forced to
introduce severe water restrictions.

Mr Howard has softened his rhetoric of late, and says that he now
broadly accepts the science behind climate change. He has tried to
regain the political initiative, announcing measures including a plan
to take over regulatory control of the Murray-Darling river system
from state governments.

He has declared nuclear power the way forward, and is even considering
the merits of joining an international scheme to "trade" carbon
dioxide emissions - an idea he opposed in the past.

Mr Howard's conservative coalition will face an opposition Labour
Party revitalised by a popular new leader, Kevin Rudd, and offering a
climate change policy that appears to be more credible than his. Ben
Fargher, the head of the National Farmers' Federation, said that if
fruit and olive trees died, that could mean "five to six years of lost
production". Food producers also warned of major food price rises.

Mr Howard acknowledged that an irrigation ban would have a
"potentially devastating" impact. But "this is very much in the lap of
the gods", he said.

How UN warned Australia and New Zealand

Excerpts from UN's IPCC report on the threat of global warming to
Australia and New Zealand:

"As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water
security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in south and east
Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and eastern regions."

* "Significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur by 2020 in
some ecologically rich sites, including the Great Barrier Reef and
Queensland's tropics. Other sites at risk include the Kakadu
wetlands ... and the alpine areas of both countries."

* "Ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as
Cairns and south-east Queensland (Australia) and Northland to Bay of
Plenty (New Zealand) are projected to exacerbate risks from sea-level
rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal
flooding by 2050."

* "Production from agriculture and forestry by 2030 is projected to
decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of
eastern New Zealand, due to increases in droughts and fires."

* "The region has substantial adaptive capacity due to well-developed
economies and scientific and technical capabilities, but there are
considerable constraints to implementation ... Natural systems have
limited adaptive capacity."

Runge1

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Apr 20, 2007, 3:17:41 AM4/20/07
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"sLuGhUnTeR" <michael...@yahoo.com> a écrit dans le message de news:
1177050616.2...@y80g2000hsf.googlegroups.com...

sLuGhUnTeR

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Apr 20, 2007, 3:50:29 AM4/20/07
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oh rillllllllly !

Deeply Filled Mortician

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Apr 20, 2007, 6:01:21 AM4/20/07
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Make credence recognised that on 19 Apr 2007 23:30:16 -0700,
sLuGhUnTeR <michael...@yahoo.com> has scripted:

>http://news.independent.co.uk/world/australasia/article2465960.ece
>
>Australia's epic drought: The situation is grim
>By Kathy Marks in Sydney
>Published: 20 April 2007
>
>Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply
>to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought
>- heralding what could be the first climate change-driven disaster to
>strike a developed nation.
>
>The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent
>of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed
>the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough
>water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst
>drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed
>to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake
>up to the severity of the position.
>
>The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic,
>delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there
>is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation
>will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice,
>cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will
>die, along with livestock.

There's nothing quite like political inaction to nudge along a
disaster in the making!
--
---
DFM - http://www.deepfriedmars.com
---
--

poldy

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Apr 21, 2007, 11:36:09 PM4/21/07
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In article <4m3h23pv4p9sgecaj...@4ax.com>,
Deeply Filled Mortician <deepfreudmoors@eITmISaACTUALLYiREAL!l.nu>
wrote:

> >The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic,
> >delivered dire tidings to the nation's farmers yesterday. Unless there
> >is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation
> >will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice,
> >cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will
> >die, along with livestock.
>
> There's nothing quite like political inaction to nudge along a
> disaster in the making!

Was it inaction or just to do the bidding of the coal industry interests?

You know, how Bush is in office and Exxon is making more money than any
company in history?

wdge...@rogers.com

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Apr 22, 2007, 12:30:44 AM4/22/07
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Hi,

We are going to Madrid on May 14 and are staying until the 22nd. Other
than the obvious Palace Royale and the Prado, what would be
recommended to see.

We like historical sites, fine arts, history, and Spain's connection
to the Americas.

We also like to try different foods so some not too expensive
restaurant suggestions would be appreciated.

We are staying at the Petit Palace Plaza del carmen hotel which is
close to the Calle Gran Via and have no car. If anyone knows that
hotel, comments welcome. It comes with the airline flight package
from Canada.

There is not much time left and wondering if we should be trying to
learn a bit of Spanish

Any comments on what weather to expect then would also be much
appreciated.

We were originally going to go to Rome, however, all Rome packages
(flight and accommodation) have been quite expensive from Canada this
year and watched a Rick Mears show on Madrid and decided to change
gears. With further research we were impressed with the city.

Thanks in advance.

Doug
Toronto

latoch...@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 22, 2007, 1:31:18 PM4/22/07
to
> We are going to Madrid on May 14 and are staying until the 22nd. Other
> than the obvious Palace Royale and the Prado, what would be
> recommended to see.

First of all, the 15th of May is a local bank holiday in Madrid, in
fact is "The day of the Saint Isidro, the saint of Madrid" so some
special events will take place there. (There is the most important
week of bull fight -Toros- in Madrid, but I don't like Toros )

The Thyssen Museum, at the opposite of Prado Museum is very
interesting and the restaurant isn't expensive and you can taste good
food.

The Plaza Mayor, near your hotel, and a walk througt Cava alta or Cava
Baja to Plaza de la paja is a very good stroll.

The Plaza de Santa Ana and then Huertas Street is another good walk.

If you like historical sites go to Toledo (100 km far from Madrid) now
there's a fast train (AVE), or Segovia (no train).

Enjoy your journey !
Carlos A

Vic's sun

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Apr 22, 2007, 2:06:39 PM4/22/07
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and the A6 to Segovia is a nightmare for traffic jams

The Reid

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Apr 23, 2007, 4:14:01 AM4/23/07
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On Sun, 22 Apr 2007 00:30:44 -0400, wdge...@rogers.com wrote:

>We also like to try different foods so some not too expensive
>restaurant suggestions would be appreciated.

one of the berst features are the tapas bars of the old quarter

>We are staying at the Petit Palace Plaza del carmen hotel which is
>close to the Calle Gran Via and have no car. If anyone knows that
>hotel, comments welcome. It comes with the airline flight package
>from Canada.
>
>There is not much time left and wondering if we should be trying to
>learn a bit of Spanish

well, its what they speak!

>Any comments on what weather to expect then would also be much
>appreciated.

"http://www.fell-walker.co.uk/spain.htm#geog"
--
Mike Reid
Walking in Spain & Spanish regional cooking at
"http://www.fell-walker.co.uk"

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