Saturday, April 28, 2007
tri·age (noun) - the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors (dictionary.com)
Australia is going through its worst drought ever. Nothing new in that, people have been saying "this is the worst drought ever" since we first settled on this continent. But in the last couple of weeks, we've seen pictures of the Murray-Darling basin, which provides 40% of all food production in this country, that look like photos of the Simpson Desert. We've seen photos of 100 metre high dams with 10 km long dry lake beds behind them, where once were trillions of litres of water. And now we're actually beginning to evacuate entire towns because there isn't any water to drink, and it can't even be trucked in. Last week our Prime Minister said that if the basin didn't get rain in the next couple of weeks, all of the available water we do have would have to be diverted to the cities on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range, to ensure the survival of people there. That's a triage situation if ever I saw one. With no water at all for irrigation, the farms, towns and industries on the west side of the Range might never be re-established after just one season without water. And cutting off 40% of Australia's production might save the maximum number of people in the short term, but food prices would skyrocket, and the economy would be in tatters with the increased ratios of imported necessities.
It doesn't paint a very nice picture for the future, and there isn't much man can actually do when compared to the awesome whims of nature. All our Prime Minister, Mr Howard, could suggest was that people pray for rain. Australia's politicians usually avoid all mention of religion, in public at least, so Mr Howard calling for prayer shows the seriousness of the situation more than a thousand photos could.
That was a week ago, and after years of drought, its now raining. Not heavily, to be sure - perhaps enough to make a difference to one of the worst crises Australia has ever faced, or perhaps not. But either way, Christian or atheist, you have to wonder about the power of prayer when you see that rain.
Read the whole story at economist.com:
The Big Dry - Australia's Water Shortage