Climate change: The plight of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin
The mismanagement of irrigation, compounded by drought and a drop in commodity prices, has spelled disaster for Australia’s most important agricultural region.
The waters of the Darling River and the massive Murray irrigate a region that produces almost half of Australia’s fresh produce. But the worst drought in over 100 years has plunged the Murray-Darling Basin into crisis causing economic hardship and many farmers to pack up and leave.
Australian climate scientists see the country as ‘extremely vulnerable’ to climate change and the Murray-Darling Basin as a ground zero for global warming. Climate change advisors to Australia’s government have warned that agricultural production in the basin could fall by up to 92% by 2100.
According to the country’s Department of Climate Change, global warming will trigger more frequent and severe droughts, as well as more devastating bushfires, cyclones and floods. The government’s main scientific body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, says there is growing evidence that lower rainfall in south-eastern Australia is linked to global climate change.
–Kathy Marks, Independent
The regions lakes and lagoons have also suffered from increased salinity, affecting fish and other marine life. This has had an obvious effect on the local fishing industry.
For more on the story, including how Australian politicians are proposing to alleviate the country’s environmental problems while staying largely silent on the unpopular issue of climate change, see the following article by Kathy Marks in the Independent: