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Reuters reported this morning that the worst drought in 117 years, which has been ongoing for the last ten years in the Murray-Darling river area, is not expected to let up anytime soon, scientists warn. This affects not only farmers but the global food market as well as Australia's economy, as farmers have been hanging on for years and now find out that they should continue to prepare for the worst.
The recent rainfall in July helped boost wheat production and get over the lows of the last two years, but will still leave most fruit in serious trouble. In addition "80% of eucalyptus trees [are] already dead or stressed in a region as large as France and Germany combined." Water levels are at their lowest since 1900 and scientists see no change anytime soon.How will this affect the global food supply?
"The Murray-Darling accounts for 41 percent of Australia's agriculture and provides A$21 Billion ($17.8 Billion) worth of farm exports to Asia and the Middle East... The drought has already wiped more than A$20 billion from the $1 trillion economy since 2002."
Reserves are only at 20 percent of capacity, which will get farmers through to the winter, but after that is anyones guess. As if the loss in water wasn't bad enough, the slowly warming temperatures are only making a bad situation worse. "Climate scientists [are] warning that every rise of 1.0C [is] reducing river inflows by 15 percent in what was already the world's driest continent."
As global water supplies are increasingly stretched for food, cattle, animal, human consumption, as well as, the infinite things we use water for, even including bottled water, this invaluable commodity will become more visible in news reports as fights intensify. If we can't learn to manage water globally for the long term, we will have a real battle ahead of us, especially as the effects of climate change only intensify natural disasters.