Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Australia Faces World's Most Extreme "Climate Change Challenge"

Two Australian Cities Face Ruin Without Rain

How Long Before The Mass Evacuation Of Cities Begin?

How dry does an Australian city or major town have to get before the state and federal governments consider mass evacuations?

The evacuation of the entire human population, by force, of at least two Queensland towns is now on its way to becoming a reality. It sounds like hype, but it's not, read the truth for yourself here.

But what about the bigger towns? What if an entire city of a million or more Australians ran utterly dry of drinking water supplies?

What then?

Without fresh water, any large town or city becomes uninhabitable. You simply cannot truck in enough water to keep a city of a million or more people alive.

The Queensland town of Killarney currently has its drinking water trucked in, at a cost of some $8000 per week. Eight grand a week for a town of less than 2000 people. What dry city could afford an 'imported' water bill clocking up a few million dollars a week?

If the Australian government was eventually forced to evacuate a city like Adelaide or Brisbane, where would all those people go to? There's not a lot of room in the other Australian cities. They're all experiencing, or facing, water shortages of their own. And once you get out of the city and their suburbs, the vast majority of Australia is already suffering scary to shitscary levels of drought.

If we can't pack off the millions of residents of Adelaide and Brisbane to somewhere else in Australia, we're going to have to look overseas.

How about Canada? They're looking for a few hundred thousand new immigrants in the next few years. But be warned 'exported' Queenslanders, it's mighty cold in Alberta, where all the new jobs in the shale-into-oil industries are waiting to be filled. Pack your woollies.

Of course, all these Australian climate change refugees might find a new home in the rapidly melting lands of the Arctic. The ice-free Arctic coastlines of Canada, the US, Russia and Greenland are going to be the new homelands for tens of millions of climate change refugees in the coming decades.

The bizarre irony of Australians possibly being forced to evacuate their towns and cities due to the severe effects of climate change is that Australians were recently debating whether or not we should welcome the expected human tide of climate change refugees from the islands of the South Pacific, some of which are already being consumed by rising sea levels.

How hardcore climate change effects Australia is likely to only get more weird, from here on in.

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According to this international news story, Australian Of The Year Tim Flannery, the superbly apocalyptic Climate Change Voice Of Doom, is "the country's most recognised scientist".

Well, maybe. He's certainly Australia's most recognised Australian Of The Year.

According to Flannery, who tends to beef up his Voice Of Doom when speaking to journalists on the international beat :
Australia faces the world's most extreme climate change challenge as millions of city dwellers try to cope with water shortages, according to the country's most recognised scientist.

Flannery said the drought meant two of Australia's largest cities, Brisbane and Adelaide -- home to a combined total of almost three million people -- would run out of water by the year's end unless the so-called "Big Dry" ended.

"We could see a catastrophic situation developing here by the end of the year. It's become a huge issue," Flannery told AFP.

"Even a year ago this would have been unthinkable. I think it's the most extreme and the most dangerous situation arising from climate change facing any country in the world right now.

"We have a situation where, if there are no flows in the Murray-Darling (river system), Adelaide, a city of one million people, has only 40 days' worth of water left in storage.

"If we don't get any rain this year Adelaide and Brisbane may be facing diabolical problems."

Catastrophic situation? Diabolical problems? Cut all the soft talk and sugar-spin, Flannery, and tell the bowel-loosening truth : If it doesn't rain in volumes that would have made Noah hire on extra ark builders, Adelaideans are going to be evicted from the city and packed off to the colds of Canada, via cruise ship.

Nobody wants to be the first to say it, but now I've said it. It's done, there you go. So deal with it, Adelaide, or start towing Antarctican icebergs into your ports.

It's always interesting to take a look at the international media stories on how Australia is being hammered by climate change, and the subsequent water shortages, crumbling coast lines, destroyed crops and mega-drought. They don't tend to hold back on the heavy stuff like the local media does.

There was a spectacularly doom-laden feature in the UK Independent a few weeks back, which I sat down to read after I finished liberally hosing off the path, wastefully washing the car, filling the swimming pool, flushing the toilet repeatedly to get rid of a fly that was doing laps in the bowl, and turning on the front and back lawn sprinklers for four or five hours, not because the grass was dying, but just because I love the way the sunlight glistens in all that watery spray.

If it's good enough for key members of the Australian media and the federal government to be deniers of global warming and climate change, then I can be a water-shortage denier.

And so much for all that.

But seeing a point-by-point mini-history of how the mega-drought and water shortages have impacted Australia in the past couple of years can make for some pretty freaky reading, even more so if you live in a city or town where water shortages have already hit hard :

The drought, which has lasted a decade in parts of the country, has slowed Australia's overall economic growth by an estimated 0.75 percent as crops have fallen 62 percent.

The impact on rural communities has been devastating. Many farmers have been forced off the land and counselling services have reported unusually high levels of suicide in rural areas.

Children have water conservation messages drummed into them from an early age at school and householders face hefty fines, or can even have their water disconnected, if they are found to be wasting the precious resource.

The government is also concerned that Australia's tourism industry, which earns billions of dollars a year, will be hit by "jet guilt" -- a reluctance by holidaymakers to take the heavily polluting, long-haul plane flights that are the only practical way to reach Down Under.

Authorities are also considering culling some of the million-plus feral camel population after dromedaries "mad with thirst" rampaged through a remote desert community.

Researchers warn the drought could drive Australia's iconic koalas to extinction within a decade.

The scale of the problem hit home for many Australians in April when Prime Minister John Howard said there would be no water for farms in the Murray-Darling river basin unless the drought broke soon.

Covering more than one million square kilometres (400,000 square miles) in the southeast of Australia, the Murray-Darling basin is the country's largest river system, almost three times bigger than Japan and four times larger than Britain.

It is Australia's rural powerhouse, producing more than 40 percent of the nation's agricultural produce, worth 10 billion dollars (8.3 billion US) a year.

The Murray-Darling supports half the nation's sheep flock, a quarter of the cattle herd and three-quarters of irrigated land.

It's clearly time to evacuate the residents of Brisbane and Adelaide to the wilds of Canada and divert their fresh water river flows to Sydney and Melbourne, where they are needed most.

The Brisbanians and Adelaiders won't be happy, but harsh sacrifices must be made in such times of national emergency. Sydneysiders and Melbournians will appreciate the sacrifices made by their fellow Australians. We might even send these new Canastralians a post card, or two, but only if they ship back an ice berg or two, if there's any left by then.

Prime Minister Says "Pray For Rain", Renowned Priest Says Begging God To Stop The Drought Is "Pointless"

Melbourne Also Running Out Of Water - Vegetable Crops Production To Drop By Two-Thirds

Australia's Mega-Drought To Cripple Local Food Supply

The "Armageddon Solution" To Water Shortages - Start Evacuation Of Queensland Towns