The only conclusion that I can draw is that Tony Abbott and a team of geniuses, work through the wee hours of the night to put together ridiculous plans so that people have something to deconstruct. I mean, no-one could intentionally be so misinformed and be in a position to ask Australians to vote for them as Prime Minister, could they?
Yes, water management on an arid continent such as Australia is important. I’ve always questioned the fury from NSW and Queensland farmers in response to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, when it is they who then cover their land with a few inches of water, a large shallow pool, begging to be evaporated, to grow cotton and rice in the dry interior.
However, are dams really the option?
We know that with increasing climate change there is a high chance for drying conditions (Liu et al., 2013). Unlike increasing sun activity, which affects the planet with heat loading disproportionately, an increasing greenhouse effect is likely to increase the heterogeneity of the atmosphere. Basically, it becomes more stable, reducing the potential for your typical rainfall (Liu et al., 2013). That isn’t to say anything about the intensity of storms – a warmer atmosphere can “hold” more water.
So, while we do have a problem already with the boom and bust cycle of Australia, changing between drought and flooding rain, we can expect an increasing amount of water instability the longer we do next to nothing to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.
Abbott is excited to let us know that his team are dabbling with the idea of adding as much as 100 new dams to help with this water insecurity, which will also increase food production and hydro-power production.
Here’s the problem.
Flooding land, covered with biomass (which will die as part of the inundation) provides a nice environment for anaerobic respiration. In short, dams are wonderfully good at producing the potent greenhouse gase, methane (Kemenes et al., 2007). As a side note, this is another issue I have; the sudden new “wetlands” developed as part of every new suburb also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in much the same way.
So we have a situation where water insecurity is exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and the Coalition’s plan to help this water insecurity is to increase water capture via methodology that will inevitably exacerbate anthropogenic climate change.
If Australia collectively votes for this party with the coming election, with such wacky logic on the table, surely, are we not eligible as a contender for the Darwin Award?
Liu, J., Wang, B., Cane, M.A., Y, S., and, Lee, J. (2013) Divergent global precipitation changes induced by natural versus anthropogenic forcing. Nature. 493. DOI: 10.1038/nature11784
Kemenes, A., Forsberg, B.R., and, Melack, J.M. (2007) Methane release below a tropical hydroelectric dam. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2007GL02476