Australian Drought: Not So Bad After All

by Val Germann

It had to happen, the reaction to all the bad press recently garnered by the continuing Australian drought.  The mainstream press everywhere must be “objective” and so no single viewpoint can dominate, especially if it’s controversial and requires a re-think of certain cherished concepts.  Under the current rubric in the English-writing press all dangerous ideas must be counterbalanced in some manner lest they become the new conventional wisdom, which circumstance might suddenly find the public demanding inconvenient change.   

Regular readers here at Star Phoenix Base have been kept up to speed on the lack of rain “down under” and the devastating fires that have recently caused such havoc.  The idea has recently become current in the Australian press that something has happened to their climate, one result being “The Big Dry” as it has been called.  The fires of recent years have seared the psyches of all Australians, paving the way for this new paragdigm, one that could inevitably change the way they think about nearly everything, including their patterns of consumption.    

And so it had to happen, a reaction, a call to arms for those who maintain the present world view, that all is actually quite fine, thank you, and a society of more and more can continue indefinitely, no matter the droughts, the fires, or the dying reefs.  Those things are all just blips on the radar, speed bumps on the road to everlasting prosperity and wealth for all. 

A recent article in THE AUSTRALIAN illustrates this growing phenomenon well.  Note the method, the strawman argument, about whether or not the current horrific dry spell is the “worst ever” or a “1000-year drought” or not.   Here is the lead from the piece:

Some say this is Australia’s worst drought in 1,000 years.  This idea has grown long legs, jumped around the nation and might never quite be brought to heel.  That’s the trouble with some ideas.  They so capture the imagination that they have no need for facts.

When an article leads like that, well, you know what’s coming next, or should.  So it was no surprise that the second paragraph begins with the quote below, concerning a recent scientific conference held in the Aussie’s capital city:

No evidence has been produced to support this theory which somehow escaped, as a wild runaway, from the special water summit held in Canberra last month. 

It may be worth noting that there ARE some facts on the side of the “1,000-year drought” idea, and that a scientific conference is where the concept was first advanced, not in some overheated whale hugger’s imagination.   But, of course, a lot of this is a matter of scientific interpretation, of both data and trends, which interpretations can vary with the position of the beholder.  Here in the United States were are more than familiar with this, vis-a-vis our own Federal Government, which admits no such thing as climate change. 

For this writer it would be a positive relief to accept the thrust of THE AUSTRALIAN piece, that things aren’t really as bad as they appear and time will heal all.  But the evidence does not support this view, unfortunately, as is now accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists world wide.  How long will it take the mainstream media to accept this?  it’s hard to say but it may be that sea water will have to be lapping at their editorial feet, on the second floor, before they truly get the message. 


About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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