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More bad news for the Murray-Darling

April 9th, 2009
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Thanks to a combination of continued drought and the long-term increase in temperatures, exacerbated by land-use changes such as increased use of farm dams, inflows to the Murray-Darling system have hit a new record low

Beachhead release

. It will take quite a few years of above-average rainfall to restore the system to anything like the pre-drought situation and there is, so far, no suggestion that we are going to see this. On the contrary, the reverse is more likely, both in the short run and the long run.

A lot of my work with the Risk and Sustainable Management Group deals with adaptation to climate change in the Basin. There’s quite a bit of scope for this, but if inflows fall as far as the most likely climate scenarios project over the next century, irrigated agriculture will cease to be feasible.

The Spiderwick Chronicles move
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  1. charles
    April 9th, 2009 at 07:21 | #1

    Where do you get a copy of the CSIRO’s prediction of future weather patterns?

  2. Hermit
    April 9th, 2009 at 07:29 | #2

    I take this to be one of many signs that the world generally is approaching Malthusian limits. Meanwhile the migrant intake remains high and good farmland on the city fringes gets paved over thanks to the first homebuyer’s grant. The mistakes of the Murray Darling now seem likely to be repeated in other areas. From now on declines in agricultural inputs such as water are unlikely to be compensated by efficiency increases such as GM, drip irrigation, minimum tillage and so on.

  3. Andrew T
    April 9th, 2009 at 09:06 | #3

    To be pedantic the record low seems to be for the Murray alone, the Darling basin looks near average for rainfall this year – even local flooding in Feb at Bourke

  4. Charlie Bell
    April 9th, 2009 at 13:57 | #4
  5. observa
    April 9th, 2009 at 19:46 | #5

    “Meanwhile the migrant intake remains high and good farmland on the city fringes gets paved over thanks to the first homebuyer’s grant.”

    True enough Hermit and that on top of the inexorable pressures of negative gearing and overall capital gains tax treatment all adds up to what? Absolutely zilch countervailing market power to the natural environment, that’s what! It can all be turned around with thoughtful taxation pricing within a new constitutional marketplace derived from clear principles. Instead we get stacatto left/green feelgood. How’re they doing?

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