Talk about dry. Farmers in the Murray River region of Australia are living through a decade of the worst drought on record. Blaine Harden, a Washington Post reporter, tells us of citrus farmers who have had to bulldoze their trees (after a half century in production). Brush fires killed 173 people earlier this year during a southeast Australia heat wave. “Rising temperatures and declining rainfall are, with increasing frequency, transforming the Outback into a crematorium for kangaroos, livestock and farm towns,” Harden writes.
But farmers here don’t back global warming laws because they don’t think their drought is caused by climate change. The Australian government can act to pay for programs to reduce the effects of drought, but there is stubborn resistance to climate change legislation. “We have got the science, we have got the money and we have got the policy, but we have not yet got our heads around the human factor,” said Tim Stubbs, an engineer and project manager for the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, which has advised the government on the Murray River. “I worry that we will spend all these billions and we still will not have fixed the river or persuaded farmers to change the way they think.”
“We just need a good flood,” said one farmer. “I think we are coming to the end of a 10-year cycle of drought,” said another. Disbelief in the human impact on climate has led to defeats of Prime Minister Keven Rudd’s push to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The legislature defeated a carbon trading system last week for the second time in less than six months. Good slideshow with this story.