Dry Australia

As bushfires rage in many parts of south-eastern Australia – there are some, small signs, that the nation is starting to wake up to the reality of its climate: well, it has only taken a couple of centuries.

When I was a kid the – rather artificial – rivalry between its two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, was often played out over climate – Melbourne was wet, grey, dismal, we Sydneysiders said, although it was admitted that the state of Victoria in which it is set was greener than NSW – more like “Home” as the early settlers put it.

Yet now, Melbourne too is drying up: the dams supplying its water are at 42% of capacity.

There’s nothing new about this; it’s clear the old insults were just stereotypes, for:

“Water restrictions have been enforced in Melbourne 15 times in the past 67 years and, most recently, Victorians have been battling drought and its consequences for eight consecutive years.”

Yet don’t feel too sorry for those Melbournians: “At a time when the United Nations Development Program is urging governments to guarantee each person at least 20 litres of clean water a day … the average Melbourne household uses 685 litres each day.”

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