Australia battles drought, bushfires but ignores permaculture
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
Dorothea Mackellar, Australian poet
We all love a sunburnt country, but things are looking particularly bad even for a land used to drought and bushfire. Australia, already beset by the worst drought in its history, is in for a long, hot El Niño Summer, meteorologists are warning.
This continent's greatest watercourse and at 2,739 kilometres (1,702 miles) one of the world's longest rivers, the Darling, is becoming 'dry as a bone' -- in some places a child can now straddle it -- not just because of the drought but also because of broadscale agriculture and the irrigation that supports this obsolete, unsustainable practice. I'm convinced that permaculture offers the only credible solutions to these catastrophes.
Now, in early Spring, hundreds of bushfires have broken out across the continent, from Tasmania to the Northern Territory:
"Firefighters in four Australian states battled bushfires fanned by soaring temperatures and strong winds on Friday, as worsening drought pitched bone-dry rural Australia into recession, its riverbeds cracked and empty.
"Firefighters said Australia was facing an extreme fire danger a month before the start of summer, with hundreds of blazes in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
"Scientists warned on Friday of an increasing threat of bushfires for decades to come as climate change brings more frequent higher temperatures in Australia and less rainfall."
Special Broadcasting Service :: ABC Regional Online :: all 118 news articles »
Australian cities face water crisis :: Continued drought takes toll on farmers
Editorial: Drought shows political failure :: When all the rivers run dry
Bourke suffers under bad drought conditions ::
PM defends greenhouse gas policies
"MARK COLVIN: An early bushfire season and seemingly endless drought have got more people than ever wondering whether this is climate change in action, and that's starting to put new pressure on the Federal Government.
"The Prime Minister says the drought does emphasise the problem of climate change. But he's defended the Government's record in reducing greenhouse gases, and his decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
"The Greens' leader, Bob Brown, says the Government's environmental policies have contributed to the severity of the drought Australia is now facing.
"And Labor says the Prime Minister can't attempt to tackle the nation's water problems until he takes further action on climate change ...
"LYNN BELL: The Opposition leader Kim Beazley supports the Government's plans to provide assistance to farmers, but he says the severity of the drought must be seen in the wider context of global warming.
"And on that issue, he's accused the Government of having its head in the sand.
"KIM BEAZLEY: Every farmer, and I think most Australians now understand, we have a much broader problem here. We've always had droughts, but it's the frequency and intensity now.
"We have a global warming issue on our hands. This is a long-term issue, and it's got to be a government with long-term solutions to it. You cannot fix the water crisis in this country, unless you fix the global warming issues.
"LYNN BELL: He says Labor would set up an emissions trading system if it wins government. It would also ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
"But the Prime Minister says Australia is already well on the way to meeting international targets for greenhouse gas reduction ...
"LYNN BELL: But the Greens' leader Bob Brown believes the Federal Government's policies over the past 10 years, have contributed to the extremely dry conditions.
"He says John Howard has been in the box seat to take a world lead against climate change.
"But instead, Bob Brown says the Prime Minister has starved the renewable energy sector, and accelerated the burning of fossil fuels and coal exports.
"BOB BROWN: The Howard Government has to take its share of responsibility for enhancing the climate change phenomenon, which is making the drought worse, which is making bushfires worse, which threatens us with greater storms along our coastlines, particularly in the north and floods and has huge economic consequences for this nation ..."
Tagged: australia, john+howard, global+warming, climate+change, sustainability, permaculture