The “Big Dry” continues in Australia. News this week confirms that the Murray River is in dire straits and that Adelaide may soon be without drinking water as a result :-
“Adelaide latest victim of global water shortages : Australia’s fifth-largest city could be reliant on bottled water as early as next week as overuse and drought stretch the Murray river to its limit…”
Sydney has had water restrictions in place off and on since the Water Regulation of 2000, following legislation of 1994 :-
“The [Sydney Water] Corporation may cut off or restrict the supply of water to any land if the owner, occupier or person requiring a supply of water fails to comply with a notice under this Part regulating or restricting the use of water.”
And although the rules have changed again, due to the opening of a desalination plant, there is continued concern, and continued control :-
“FAMILIES can once again turn on the sprinklers after the State Government lifts water restrictions at midnight. After more than five years of bans, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that the existing restrictions regime will be scrapped. In their place, the Government will impose new, permanent water-saving rules to ensure drinking water is not wasted…”
“Adelaide facing bottled water reality : September 28, 2009 : ADELAIDE is just one dry year away from becoming reliant on bottled water, a South Australian politician claims. Australian Democrat David Winderlich has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the River Murray after it was revealed salinity levels at Tailem Bend were not far from reaching dangerous proportions…”
If you think urban Australia is suffering, reflect on the position of the farmers : rainfed agriculture is fast becoming a distant memory :-
“Fast facts…(*) Since 1985, the irrigated area in Australia has increased by 30 per cent, and the water diverted has increased by 75 per cent; (*) Irrigation uses about 70 per cent of all water used in Australia, in 2006 terms…”
Of course, a drought like this cannot be permanent, can it ?
But if it were, or within the next 30 years or so, the Big Dry becomes more or less the status quo, what then ?
While Coal stocks are plentiful and it costs little to burn it for energy, the Australians can continue to operate desalination plants to get all their drinking water from the sea.
Yet it would be unwise to assume that Coal stocks will remain plentiful, or that it will continue to stay cheap to burn it.
What then ?
Where would be the most appropriate country to host the mass migration of Australians ?
Other English-speaking countries, of course.
This could become the “great repatriation”.
Oxfam, Christian Aid and other aid and development agencies consistently use the unequal nature of Climate Change impacts to induce well-meaning support.
Even Nicholas Stern says it : the poorest will suffer hardest and fastest from the effects of Climate Change.
“Oxfam launches appeal for drought in East Africa : 2009-09-29 : Aid agency Oxfam is launching an appeal for money to help 23 million people hit by drought in East Africa. The British-based charity said Tuesday it needs to raise 9.5 million pounds to help people hit by a severe drought, conflict and high food prices. It said the worst affected countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda. People in the region are suffering from malnutrition and hundreds of thousands of cattle _ people’s key source of income _ are dying…”
We all have an interest in where Climate migrants will come from and where they will go to.
In this week’s BBC Green Room, Cecilia Tacoli suppresses fears of Climate migration :-
“Tuesday, 29 September 2009 12:28 UK : Climate migration fears ‘misplaced’ : VIEWPOINT : Fears of millions of “climate refugees” crossing national borders are not supported by evidence on the ground, says Cecilia Tacoli. In this week’s Green Room, she says we will fail to protect the world’s most vulnerable people if misconceptions about migration continue to shape policies. Search the internet for “migration” and “climate change” and you will find repeated warnings of a crisis in the making; of hundreds of millions of people on the move, of countries straining to cope with the pressure on their borders, and of national security under threat. But these fears are based on many misconceptions about the duration, destination and composition of migrant flows. There is a real risk that alarmism will divert attention from real problems, resulting in policies that fail to protect the most vulnerable people. The longer it takes people to realise this, the bigger the true problems will become. Firstly, the numbers of people likely to be moving have been exaggerated…”
Yes, the numbers of poor people who will succeed in Climate migrating will be kept low, by enforcement measures, by the weight of their poverty, their poor language and political skills.
But what happens when Australia completely dries out from the centre, and the South Western United States ? People with good English in these wealthy countries are vocal, well-educated in their rights, and well able to argue that they should be permitted to migrate.
The legal duty of the United Kingdom to accept Australians and Americans will be based on colonial history.
My prediction is : expect the population of cities in temperate countries of the world to rocket with First World Climate Refugees.