21 April, 2009

Dear Diary: Adelaide's water supply.
Hardly a drop to drink.

The River Murray near Goolwa. I used to row boats
and swim off these jetties as a child in the sixties.

A bloke doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to pick up on the deep mood of despondancy and fear in South Australia. People obviously sense that there are looming threats to their well-being, but can't quite come to grips with the enormity of it all. It's too hard and scary, so they carry on as if everything is normal. But no, everything isn't normal.

Being an outsider looking in is an advantage in seeing things as they really are. Adelaide is clearly unsustainable due to lack of water. Unsustainable. Unless there's substantial winter rain this year, Adel-vegas does not have a guaranteed water supply for next year. The 'authorities' won't be able to solve the problem by simply buying a few more hundred gigalitres because there isn't any left to buy. What there was has been bought up already.

At last there are a few rare voices dismissing the dreaded "D" word - drought. Mr Hanrahan should (long ago)have been the first to work out that shortage of rain is in fact the normal condition of Southern Australian weather. Always has been. Periods of consistent good rain, in fact, are the exception to the norm. Climate Change is merely an induced intensification. Perhaps all this that isn't what people, in their eternal colonial optimism, want to believe... nobody enjoys words like 'crisis'.

People have adequate evidence of the water crisis via the media, but due to habitual patterns of thinking and behaviour, somehow imagine that life will somehow continue like it always has. Here's a front page of the main newspaper which appeared while we were in Adelaide recently:

Priorities are evident: Football and Soapies 1, Essential Infrastructure 0.

Indeed, South Australian Thought Habits militate against noticing the Elephant in the Room. But when they're down to their last bucket, folks will have to leave, as thousands of younger people already have, leaving behind a geriatric population. Property prices will therefore probably perform the dead-cat-bounce even more than the US-led mortgage crisis is suggesting. This is despite the government's $14,000 first-home buyer's grant, a deceptive and purely politically opportunistic short-term stunt, akin to an injection of psychlogical steroids. Simple arithmetic cries out loud that $14,000 is a miniscule sum of money compared to total mortgage repayment (principle + interest) over a 20 year period. Bank Bait for unwary innocent Youth.

But Adelaideians still get up in the morning and routinely water their lawns, councils still prioritize gentrifying the pavements and parks... and it's all a self-deceiving superficial veneer. It's a self-sabotaging "feel-good" form of lifestyle window-dressing which gobbles financial and physical resources that would be better channeled towards urgent red-alert survival strategies. Gee wiz, if you can have nice cars like this, the country must be thriving, mate:

But it's all about Projection, Wishes, Imagined Realities, Avoidance. You see it in people's expressionless gaze, unexplained outbursts of anger and frustration, "me-first" attitudes in shops, and especially in Road Rage and speeding. South Australia is not a happy place.

Moral of the story? Advice to habitual Adelaideians? Sell up now, or sooner. Grab some bottled water and consider the merits of becoming a bona fide climate refugee to anywhere else where there's adequate water - pronto. It might just be 5 minutes to midnight already. Your English forbears settled the wrong end of Austraya.

Lots of love
Two relieved refugees to Thailand X X X

P.S: all of my blog posts on environment can be found under "Browse by Category" in the side-bar8 of your screen. Click on the "Environment" link.
As therapy for the trip, we went here.