This is a pic I took the other day on my usual walking route along our river.
The Wimmera River is slowly drying up. We are in the grip of a decade long drought with this current year being the worst so far.
Towns around these parts are now on the severest water restrictions imaginable, many having to resort to trucking water in for domestic use.
That sand bar you see in the middle of the river is normally under a few metres of water. It will now take rainfall far exceeding our yearly average to "disappear" again.
Thankfully, the pelicans are still present so I guess we'll know that the river has truly "died" when they move on to better feeding grounds.
The losses to our local economy in terms of tourism, farming, business and social interactions are too big to enumerate here really. There are some hurting people in our community and all because it just won't RAIN... properly and in season!
My local church is having a "Prayer for Rain" ecumenical service this coming Wednesday. A lead in will include a community free BBQ to which all people are invited whether they attend the service later or not.
It's a "nice" gesture though a little whimsical perhaps. Whilst there will be opportunity for our church to market itself as "caring" for our community (as we must) through this small gesture... it won't really change the fact that we cannot make it rain by ourselves - prayer or no prayer!
The world is getting hotter they say! If so, then we are responsible for this weather and it will not likely be reversible. We will have to learn to adapt to a new way of living in a increasingly desertified region of Australia. It was ALWAYS dry here but not as dry as it has been these past 10 years. The many hundreds of lakes, the rivers, the huge channel system established early last century always contained water in them in the driest of years until these last few. Now they are merely dry basins of constantly moving dust and salt.
There have been some better years than others in this decade for rainfall but on the whole, this region where I live, is slowly becoming a wasteland whereas once it was one of the most fertile and diversely functioning food bowls in this large country of ours.
Who knows if this is a permanent thing really! I have some scepticism regarding the climate change mantra - the earth is a closed system of such complexity and marvellous intricacy, its hard to imagine it could not "right" these anomalies if given the chance to do so. It may be that in a few short years we will be complaining its too wet! It seems a mere wish to say that right now though. Now it seems that The Wimmera will be forever parched and forsaken and all of us will need to make a quantum shift in the way we use and think about all our resources here.
Thing is... with people now so numerous upon the earth and demanding to be fed... can we make the agricultural & business methods of the past that once fed the few, work in the future to feed the plenty? And all while the earth seems to be crying out for respite from these same practises? Aussie farmers are renowned for their innovation and efficiency. But - have these strengths become our "weakness" in that these same talents have wounded our corner of the world in such a way that we now suffer?
We can't "Save the World"! We can only husband it and we've done that poorly over this past two hundred years or so. In our arrogance we "thought" we were being good stewards but all we were doing was abusing what was not ours to abuse. How can we ever know the difference without time and history?
Can we blame "ignorance"? Yes! and No! We may enter into our activities blindly without foreknowledge but once we get caught up into our way of doing... we often fail to notice whether that very doing is actually causing harm. We are not perfect stewards but we have not been "Good Enough" either!
We're not good at change I guess, especially when we are told we have to. Even less when there is profit to be had!
I hope to see "my" river flowing again someday. That will be a sight to behold. Both my children have only ever really known "dry" - they've never seen it sopping wet around here like I have (I grew up enduring some of the wettest years on record ;)).
Who knows really what will happen. God willing (and it really is HIS solution we need now), this dry will turn around and bring with it the rainbow of promise we are all looking for.