Can the Murray Darling river basin be saved?
Will the future show that our generation has been guilty of environmental vandalism on a massive scale?When I hear of the mismanagement of the Murray Darling river basin, I wonder whether anyone will ever have the courage to take this issue in hand and do what’s necessary to look after it. Will the future show that our generation has been guilty of environmental vandalism on a massive scale? And I think of the lesson that should be provided by other disasters elsewhere in the world, such as the Aral Sea and the Oxus River which used to fill it.
The Aral Sea was the world’s fourth largest inland sea, providing a living for communities of people. Now it’s dry, a dusty windswept nightmare of a place where fishing ships lie on their sides rusting. The Oxus doesn’t run to it any more. It was dammed and bled dry when the Russians decided to turn it full-tilt into a massive cotton growing area, cotton being one of the thirstiest crops of all. In 20 years they’d killed the Aral Sea. Journalist A.A. Gill calls it the worst environmental calamity humans ever visited on this earth. (His posthumous collection of essays The Best of A.A. Gill published in 2017 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, is a great read, incidentally.)
Are we doing to the Murray-Darling what they did to the Oxus? Will nobody stop the vandalism? Do we all sit by powerlessly and watch while a disaster slowly unfolds?
Now it’s dry, a dusty windswept nightmare of a place where fishing ships lie on their sides rusting.Australia is a dry continent and the signs are that it’s getting drier. When we look across the sea to the Cape area of South Africa we should be alarmed. The entire city of Cape Town is likely to have its taps turned off by the end of April, as it’s running out of water. Really running out of water.
The wine industry is suffering along with everyone else, as irrigation water has been cut and wine production will plummet this year.
An article in The Drinks Business claims the number of wine producers in South Africa’s Western Cape has declined by nearly one-quarter since 2004. Drought has forced the industry to down-size, in what could be a glimpse of the future for Australia’s winemakers.