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Across California there are plenty of signs of just how dry it’s been, such as here in Topanga Canyon near Los Angeles. wasim muklashy/Flickr via CC BY-NC-SA

California’s severe drought shows why we need to raise the price of water

Last January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency following projections of severe drought. State bureaucrats and local officials jumped into action and mandated any number of…
Warragamba Dam, supplying drinking water to over four million residents of Sydney.

Axing water overseer could leave regional Australia high and dry

Summer is coming and, with it, dry conditions for many parts of Australia. While it may be difficult to imagine for city dwellers, parts of regional Australia will likely face severe water shortages over…
In 2012 and 2013 parts of New Zealand suffered the worst drought in 70 years. Dave Young/Flickr

New Zealand is drying out, and here’s why

Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years. Drought is the costliest climate extreme in New Zealand; the 2012-2013 event depressed the country’s GDP by…
Annual show: each spring, thousands of people make the road trip north from Perth to see the wildflowers. Supplied

Drought and fire threaten WA’s famous spring wildflowers

Spring has sprung. This time of year is peak wildflower season in the area around Perth, and the display is a major tourism draw card. People flock to places like Lesueur National Park and the Eneabba…
An El Niño - even a weak one - can cause reduced rainfall in eastern Australia. Tim J Keegan/Flickr

Don’t dismiss a 2014 ‘super’ El Niño just yet

It looks like it’s all over bar the shouting for the chance of this year bringing on a “super” El Niño. Or is it? The Bureau of Meteorology has brought the odds of an El Niño event down to 50%, from 70…
The once-popular Loch McNess north of Perth has dried up almost completely after a decades-long dry period. ron_n_beth/Flickr

Saving water in a drying climate: lessons from south-west Australia

Since 1970, average rainfall in the south-west of Western Australia has decreased by nearly a fifth, and the science suggests that this is linked to human-caused climate change. Across Australia, CSIRO…
Australia’s weather is influenced by warm water movements in the Pacific. Flickr/Shayan USA

Explainer: El Niño and La Niña

We wait in anticipation of droughts and floods when El Niño and La Niña are forecast but what are these climatic events? The simplest way to understand El Niño and La Niña is through the sloshing around…
Drought conditions are set to become more frequent with the changing behaviour of the Indian Ocean. Peripitus/Wikimedia Commons

Drought in store as El Niño’s western cousin to grow stronger

Over the past few months, a lot of attention has been paid to the potentially strong El Niño event brewing in the Pacific Ocean. But there is also the potential for an emerging climate phenomenon in the…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott met Rural Financial Counselling Service officers In February, but the Commission of Audit has recommended the service be abolished. Andrew Meares/AAP

Should drought support measures survive the budget axe?

Last week’s Commission of Audit advocated a “commonsense approach to handling risks in society,” targeting drought assistance for its role in “discouraging drought preparedness and self-reliance”. The…
We could be in for some warmer weather with an increased risk of drought and bushfires. Flickr/Len Matthews

Are we heading for a worrying Super El Niño?

We have only just moved into May and despite being seven months away from next summer in the southern hemisphere, climate researchers are seeing the beginnings of what could be the most powerful El Niño…
Abbott: One rule for farmers, another for manufacturers. Andrew Meares/AAP

Moving beyond the agriculture of entitlement

The announcement of drought relief funding for farmers by an Australian prime minister would not normally be a cause for surprise. But last week’s A$324 million drought package comes amid a concerted push…
Melbourne beachgoers battle January’s heatwave. They may need to get used to it. AAP Image/David Crosling

Australia’s climate: time to act on rising heatwaves and fires

The State of the Climate 2014 report, released today by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, confirms that Australia is heating up. It has warmed by 0.9C since 1910, with more in store thanks to the…
Tony Abbott may say his government is giving farmers a ‘hand-up’ - as opposed to welfare ‘hand-outs’ - but all publicly funded assistance must be equitable. AAP/Andrew Meares

Farm poverty: an area of policy aid built on sands of ignorance

The drought package announced by prime minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday included “more generous criteria for accessing income support” by drought-affected farmers. Income support is to be paid through…
A dingo in the wild. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre

Want dingoes to leave people alone? Cut the junk food

Dingoes are back in the news, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott raising concerns on ABC radio last week about dingoes in drought-hit areas of Queensland and New South Wales: I’d learnt some years ago on…
Tony Abbott has pledged to help drought-stricken farmers while dismissing the link to climate change. AAP

‘It’s been hot before’: faulty logic skews the climate debate

Global warming is increasing the risk of heatwaves. This isn’t a hypothetical abstraction that our grandchildren may experience in the distant future. Heatwaves are currently getting hotter, they’re lasting…
El Nino could stoke more extreme bushfire weather. James975/Flickr

Should we be preparing for an El Niño in 2014?

Recently speculation has been rife that the end of 2014 will see an El Niño event — the change in Pacific ocean and atmosphere circulation that is known to produce drought, extreme heat, and fire in Australia…
As prime minister Tony Abbott and his ministers tour drought-affected areas, the pressure is on Cabinet to cobble together a policy package in a hurry. AAP/Paul Osborne

Death of National Drought Policy takes us back to policy on the run

Australia’s National Drought Policy, introduced in 1992 and recognised internationally as world’s best practice, now appears to be dead. In its place we are seeing back-to-the-future policymaking. This…

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