In June of 2007 at the height of one of the Victoria’s most crippling droughts, when Melbourne’s water storage levels had dropped to 28.4% – a drop of 20% on the previous year – the Bracks Government, amidst great controversy, decided to build a desalination plant.
According to Wikipedia the plant was completed in December 2012, and was the largest addition to Melbourne’s water system since the Thomson River Dam was completed in 1983.
However, at the time, Melbourne’s reservoirs were at 81% capacity, and the plant was immediately put into standby mode.
The conservative opposition of the time was at its critical best portraying the government as reckless and lacking in judgement.
Using a little bit of sagacity I recall saying at the time that there would come a time when the good folk of Victoria would be thankful for the farsightedness of Steve Bracks.
The plant was completed in December 2012, and was the largest addition to Melbourne’s water system since. The Thomson River Dam was completed in 1983.
At the time of its completion Victoria had weathered the drought and dams were still at 81% capacity, and Victoria copped a thrashing from those who haunt the dark alleys of backward thinking.
But only now is the former Victorian Premier being recognised for his forward thinking.
Ostensibly, the point I am trying to make here is that if we are to overcome our water problems of the present and the future we are going to, in the face of a rapidly changing climate, need men and women of the ilk of those who overcame the engineering problems great of the great constructions of the past.
The Harbor Bridge, the Opera House and the Snowy Mountains Scheme immediately come to mind.
“We have always had droughts. They come and go,” was the catch cry of the day. “She’ll be right, mate.”
Our current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison when wearing his Christian coat of many colours offers a different alternative to tackling drought. He invites us to pray:
“I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country,” the prime minister said soon after he took office. “And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that.”
With natural disasters like we have been experiencing; cyclones, floods and fires we have been effective in our reaction but we have never been proactive.
With the advent of more frequent events and because we are encroaching beyond our city boundaries we are going to have to develop better preventative skills and even faster reaction times.
It is vital that we become effective before disaster hits.
Now you might be asking what the writer knows about all this climate stuff. Well, the answer is very little, actually. I just happen to believe in the science. You see, science has made – in my lifetime – the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society.
The only areas that I can think of where science is questioned are in the religious fever of climate change doubters, conservative politics and unconventional religious belief.
I have experienced bushfires and their capacity to frighten the shit out of one’s emotive thoughts, and the dryness of a drought-ridden tap, but that is all.
To place one’s own uneducated voice above that of scientific observation is just plain dumb. Question it by all means, but do so within the context of your own knowledge.
What the average Australian lay-person, whether they live in the bush, as I do, or the person who lives in the city, as I once did, is to change the way we think about catastrophic events.
In my view the first thing to do is not to listen to the dumber than dumb politician or journalist whose first reaction is always the old; “well droughts have always been with us” or “a once in a lifetime event.”
When I listen to those who know about these things I always refer to the increase in the frequency of the events-the changing weather patterns across the nation.
They are the sorts of things we should give thought to.
When talking about climate change don’t think you have to win the debate. All I do is acknowledge that it is indeed a very emotive and complex argument, and then say that’s why I support the science. If you think you know better than 98% of the worlds scientists then that’s up to you.
But can you give me a good reason as to why I should I believe you before 97% of the worlds climate scientists who specialise in the area?
After all, we don’t now ask for the evidence between cigarette smoking and cancer or the suntan and skin cancer, so why do folk want specifics when we talk about climate change.
It’s fair to say that last weeks fires up north were caused by vandal hastened intent but they thrived in conditions bought about by climate change. And of course we cannot say that this is definitively do. But the modern farmer knows about his land.
A Facebook friend by the name of Rod Judd recently wrote that:
“Living in rural NSW, Northern Rivers, where politics is substantive only as action – we rarely take notice of Canberra and Sydney wafflers, who do little to nothing for us, and what little they do is often destructive.
Our northern rivers are nearly dry and the air is heavy with a deep haze of smoke.
The crisis we face is far reaching. There are mass fish kills along the Darling River, Dubbo, is running out of water, inflows into the Macquarie River are at an historic low, the huge Burrendong dam on the Macquarie is nearly empty.
Nyngan is rich red soil country has had no rain since 2016, the country on the way to Bourke is turning into desert, Girilambone is dying, Warwick and Stanthorpe in Queensland have had no rain for month upon month and might run out of water completely.
Stanthorpe deep in drought will need to truck in drinking water, towns in Queensland’s Southern Downs and Granite Belt are deep in drought; city dwellers have no idea how devastating climate change is to our fragile country and to the people who struggle to live thereon.
While outback fire fighters are fighting to contain 70 or more fires our politicians are squabbling and the media is gossiping – I wonder how they would react if the water out of their tap were mud brown and stank of things rotting.
How would city folk enjoy living in country ruined by cotton, farming, coal seam gas and mining?
Politics is substantive as an action that is helping kill Australia. Not only is Australia suffering its worst drought ever, there is the additional fact that Australians are systematically trashing what remains of the fragile natural environment.
Heavy clouds of smoke that I see from my study window are testament to that.”
The concern is that people, mainly in our cities, don’t see don’t even think about the problems Rod wrote about.
In many instances we are an; “out of sight, out of mind society” that believes there is nothing we can do. We could have voted this hopeless bunch of climate deniers out of office a short time ago but we let the chance go through to the keeper.
We have to put the logic of our argument to our partners of our journey into the future. And there is no need to leave out the emotional aspect.
Above all, we cannot allow our children in their protests to say that their seniors were dumber than dumb.
My thought for the day
The Deputy Prime Minister (I can never remember his name) suggests that we ‘get serious’ about water security. I will leave you to ponder that.
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