Droughts and Flooding Rains

The poem by Dorothea Mackellar promised the extremes, but Australia is big enough to have them both at once.  The red center and the south have been sizzling for the past month and yesterday Adelaide achieved the dubious honour of a record highest temperature ever for a coastal city in the southern hemisphere of 49.2C .  Here today at Possum Valley, a couple of thousand kilometers nearer the equator and in the height of summer, the maximum was 18C and bucketing with rain.  Flood warnings are out for the Daintree river and the crocs are paddling furiously to avoid being washed out to sea.  

There are threats, dangers and inconveniences with floods, but they don’t compare with the terrifying threats of bushfires and the ongoing agony of drought.  Floods bring growth and renewal, droughts bring …….. well nothing except dust and despair.  

This is in accordance with climate change models which predict little change in the tropics rainfall except more violent cyclones, but drying and hotter conditions in southern Australia.  Have our political models been updated to take account of the new realities?  Not even close.  All the parameters measuring climate change have shown an accelerating trend with both ice caps melting at over 200 billion tons each of ice per year.  That is land ice that adds to sea level rise and does not include sea ice melting which does not.  The arctic may be navigable to shipping in 10 years and countries are already jostling to take a share of transport economies and resource extraction that will allow.  Australia and the world are hitting higher temps every year this century.  

There is a federal election coming up soon this year.  The law requires it and I can tell it is soon, as the present government has abandoned any pretense of actually doing any work and is already on the campaign trail.  Scomo is scampering round pork-barreling for all he is worth under the impression that the old strategy of “it’s the economy stupid”, might just get him across the line.  I am hoping that the voters are realising that it is only the distribution of the economy that will do us any good and the trickle-down effect has never worked and never will.  It is not altogether surprising that the money sticks at the top.  

No, this election I am hoping that a huge chunk of voters realise that the one thing we all share, regardless of economic status, is the environment and how important it is.  Australia is a highly urbanised society with half the population in just two cities and its people not in daily contact with earth and mud, trees and sky, rivers and dust.  Scalding heat has reached into the cities this last month.  Uncontainable fires have raged despite heroic attempts by firefighters.  I hope this enough of a wake up call that we hold the next and future governments to account for their stewardship of our country and environment.

I think we reached the nadir (lowest point) when we had an MP, who shall remain nameless for fear of everlasting shame, brandishing a lump of coal in parliament extolling its virtues.  Now we have this bottom benchmark of environmental destruction to work from, we can steadily work towards a future that holds some promise of a good environment for the next generations.  I am encouraged by recent activism from school kids who have said “hey, it’s our planet too” and are calling out my generation for trashing it.  Actually, they weren’t that harsh, but were calling for future action.  Go girls!  Maybe it was media who picked out the girls, but likely they were leading the way.  

My dear daughter in Darwin doesn’t preach like me, but has installed solar panels on the roof.  Last year for Xmas she gave me fridge wraps of cloth impregnated with bees wax to save leftover food, and this year robust shopping bags she had sown from chook feed bags.  I love these individually made economy presents.  I hope this is a sort of groundswell of thinking and feeling for the environment that persuades a future government it’s survival depends on addressing these issues.

This was not the blog I set out to write.  I don’t want to do political stuff, but I just have.  I just wanted to point out how curious it was to be 31C hotter 2000 kms to the south.  

The rain is still pouring down on the roof and I shall go to bed with the beautiful sound.



  1. Gayle & George Hardy says:

    Thank you Paul,
    Lake Tinaroo is now 89% full and rising. I would love to be up there by the end of next week when they have to open the gates to let out some of the over flow. Is it Barwon Falls that would be interesting to see.
    Your own falls would probably be awsome too – but don’t do any emergency work until it has settled down.
    As to voting – we voters will only bring about change when there is another economic disaster, and then it will be everyone for themselves. In the mean time I am explaining a lot behind the news to anyone willing to listen over the tennis and the cricket.

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