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The Australian Drought

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Australia has been enduring periods of severe drought for several years. However, recent developments have pushed the crisis to a new level.

According to reports by both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Sydney Morning Herald, Prime Minister John Howard has announced that the Australian government may ban water use from the Murray-Darling river basin for agricultural purposes.

This water system contains the country’s three largest rivers and 14% of its landmass (roughly the size of France and Spain combined), and is by far the most significant agricultural area in Australia. According to several sources, it generates approximately 40% of the nation’s agricultural production. It is commonly called Australia’s “food bowl”—if water for irrigation were cut off, it would spell the end to the country’s agriculture industry. Citrus, olive and almond trees would die; cattle and sheep herds would disappear; cotton production would slow down; and vineyards and rice fields would lie fallow.

United Kingdom newspaper The Independent stated that the continuing drought has already cut total agricultural production by one-quarter and the country’s entire GDP by 15 percent.

Reading from a commission’s report—which he said “indicates an unprecedentedly dangerous situation”—Mr. Howard stated, “What the report in essence says, that unless there are very substantial inflows and for that read heavy rain leading to runoff into the catchment areas prior to mid May 2007, there will be insufficient water available to allow any allocation of the commencement of the 2007/2008 water year for irrigation, the environment or for any purposes other than critical urban supplies.”

Mr. Howard added that citizens “should pray for rain because the situation for the farmers of Australia in the irrigation area of this country, the Murray-Darling Basin is critical and we must all hope and pray there is rain, but even if there is, it will be some time before we know the full extent of it and whether or not it will enable some allocation to be made.”

But will prayers for divine intervention be answered?


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