1st July, 2007
With floods in the north of England and no summer in sight what has happened to the weather? Merlin Sheldrake tries to make sense of a record-breaking year for the setting of weather records
Until late April, Australia lay in the grip of the worst drought in its history. River after river dried up, and in the absence of winter rain, the government contemplated cutting off water supplies to the Murray-Darling basin, an area of land the size of France and Spain accommodating 72 per cent of the country’s farm and pasture land. This was the only possible step that could have been taken to guarantee retention of enough drinking water for the population.
Without water, the crops would have certainly failed, resulting in a food shortage, increase in food price and uncertain futures for the region’s 55,000 farmers. Five years of drought and evaporating incomes have already devastated many smaller towns, with agricultural production falling by 25 per cent in the past year. Communities in New South Wales lie abandoned, with many of the residents forced to migrate to the cities. Thieves even stole water from storage areas as its scarcity increased.
The drought threatened three-quarters to a whole one per cent of the nation’s GDP – the amount, according to the Stern report, it would cost countries to limit greenhouse emissions and slow climate change if action was taken now;...
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