Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fun ways to break a drought

Things are looking pretty shit in Australia, drought-wise. We're supposed to get most of our rain in Spring (which is now). It didn't happen at all last year and it's looking disturbingly like it isn't going to happen this year. Most of the country has been facing drought conditions for more than 10 years now making it the worst drought on record. With no Spring rain things would move way beyond critical.

Right now it seems the most moisture on farmlands is coming from farmers cutting their wrists. The current dire situation has made it clear sitting around waiting for it to rain is not a viable solution. It would be nice if some action had been taken BEFORE things got critical but some people apparently need to be kicked in the balls repeatedly until they get the point. Steps like essentially re-routing rivers, desalination plants and the politically unpalatable option of water recycling are underway now.

People's reaction to recycled water confounds me. They let their psychological problems with the concept (we're essentially taking about treated sewage) trump the fact that they'll have no fucking water without it. The water treatment facilities used in recycling mean the water they produce is as clean as, as safe as and tastes the same as water that comes straight from a reservoir. I can't help thinking that people who can't get past the mental image of this being poopy water deserve to die of thirst.

So there are a few ideas being followed to at least alleviate drought conditions. But after reading a story about China's efforts to deal with their own drought problems, I think Australia is on the wrong track. Sure, China is building massive reservoirs and following other traditional approaches. But they're also firing Big Fucking Guns. They have been aggressively pursuing cloud seeding for years by (among other things) firing artillery shells into clouds.

For any female readers who don't get why this is so cool, it's a guy thing. Big guns that make loud bangs are cool. I suspect being a farmer in an impoverished, drought stricken rural area of China is pretty damn hard. But hey, they're being given rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns to fire into the sky.

I think the Chinese authorities are on a huge winner here. First, it might actually work. Second, even if it doesn't work, the farmers will be having so much fun firing the big guns they won't mind so much. Actually, maybe too much fun. I can imagine a situation where after a lot of rain someone from the Party comes to check on the crops and find nothing was ever planted. When the Party official confronts the farmer he gets a blank look and the farmer says:

"I'm a what now? A farmer? Oh wow, sorry, I totally spaced on the whole farming thing. Firing this Big Fucking Gun is so cool I forgot I was meant to be doing anything else."

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