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Current problems. Future solutions?

11/10/2010

Science can suck. But science can also save.

Not many of us tend to believe this. Hell my nieces still think I ripped them off because about 15 years ago, I told them that one day, man will be living on the moon. Of course between my prediction and now, we have had situations that have diverted attention.

But that does not mean my prediction is wrong. Just out by a bit. It seems science is ready; it is just we are not. The cost will be great. And quite frankly, we tend to prefer limited futures rather than even explore visions. I must admit that we need to fix up a lot of the problems we as a people have here before we even consider exporting ourselves to other planets and bodies. Still. One day.

One of the problems that we in Australia are currently facing, if you believe those who are making the claim, is we are screwing up a vital water way.

The Murray Darling Rivers are in crisis. If you believe the reports. So much so, that up to 30-40% of the current water allocations need to be pared back.

Ironically, those who are primarily affected by the river systems fate agree that it is indeed in trouble. But they see the reductions as devastating. Likewise they know that if nothing happens now, then the devastation will be far worse. They of course do not want to admit that. But they know it to be true.

So the situation has become a political football. Some are attacking the results of the Murray Darling Basin Authority even though they know it is true. The fact that some are prepared to play politics with this issue speaks volumes. They love to talk up the problems. Every vote is sacred.

There is however solutions. Some of them maybe drastic. Some of them very different then current mentality. Yet if we were to continue with current mentalities then you can see the Murray Darling River system destroyed within 50 years. To play politics on this is continue this path. 

Now science fiction is an amazing thing. I grew up on it!

I remember seeing the original Star Trek TV series and seeing Kirk flip open his communicator and issue his famous “Kirk here”  into the mouth piece.

Before the end of the century I had my own communicator. It even flipped open. Of course Sci-Fi never tells you about mobile phone plans and what the cost of flag fall is or is not. On TV it all seemed seamless. In reality, money creates seams. I never saw Kirk struggle with sim cards.

Still, that should not deter. Man is creative animal.

So lets look at the current problem and current solutions.

The MDB authority are adamant that the river is being over used. Even farmers admit this. This overuse is not an issue if rains come and the river flows. However Australia and droughts are synonymous and we would be foolish to not take this into account. Droughts tend to dictate the income of farmers. You have good years. And you have bad. This is not acceptable.

If I was to ask any from the city to half their income for 10 years in the hope that it will come good again, maybe, in time, I would be laughed at. You can not plan for your families future when you have such a big dice roll hanging over your head.

The MDB authority plan is primarily designed to address this. Sure, you will not have you bumper crop years. But at the same time you will not have you despair years in between. How can anyone plan for one’s future with such a variant hanging over their heads.

Enter irrigation. The ability to water crops when there is no rain. A brilliant solution to a current problem! As long as you have that water. Further taking too much water out of a river system means that river system and the life it supports suffers.

When I was a kid, I remember a text called The Web of Life. It changed the way I looked at Biology. Basically it preached that all life is in fact a slender web. You take out some of that web, and you weaken the structure as a whole. You destroy a species, and it affects our own.

So I can not and do not consider that taking water continuously for food production at the cost of some of that web for our own needs will benefit us in the long run.

Currently the talk is about water. Some have it and some do not. All life need it.

So where to from here? The MDB plan indicates that water usage in its current form MUST stop. Or rather it must be reduced. Many of us look at this with our current technical levels. So few look at the possibilities of the future.

What if we had crops that need less water?

What if we looked at different methods of irrigation irrigating at night to minimise evaporation?

What if soils could be treated to hold water for longer?

What if we looked at hybrid crops that are part native and part agricultural?

What if we, dare I say it, used genetically modified crops?

What if we looked at moving some of our food growing farms to other systems?

What if we encouraged farmers to build catchments  for their own need?

What about cleverer uses for the water we have?

What about distributing the food producers and with them the businesses that use those crops rather than centralise for the benefit of business?

What if these communities had other incomes sources other than farming? If you lose the one income source, you affect all. If the community had other industries, then will this not alleviate the pain?

What if used reclaiming techniques to put back into the system what we take?

What if….?

Fanciful? Am I living in la la land? Maybe. Maybe I read too much fiction. But all problems need to be looked at not only with what we can do now, but what we MAY do in the future. Current problems should not be looked at just with current solutions. We need to look beyond what we take for normality.

We need to consider future solutions. And if you think I maybe crazy, how about this. A car that drives itself.

John Lennon asked us to imagine.

Who tells us not to?

A. Ghebranious   2010     All Rights Reserved.

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