Monday, 2 May 2016

Focus on Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling - an Australian river system destroyed by civilisation


I woke up this morning to the  story from RT:

Australia to spend over $11mn to eradicate carps by releasing herpes virus into rivers

© David W Cerny
© David W Cerny / Reuters

Australia will spend more than US$11 million in a bid to exterminate European carp by releasing a virulent strain of herpes into the country’s largest waterway.

As much as 15 million Australian dollars will be spent on funding the clearing of the Murray-Darling Basin from the country’s worst freshwater feral pest. This will be included into Tuesday’s federal budget, Australian authorities said on Sunday.
Interestingly enough, the war on fish is to be waged by an unusual means – the water will be contaminated with a special type of herpes, known as koi herpes.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientists have been carrying out various tests for nearly a decade on other animals including chickens, mice, frogs, turtles and water dragons “to determine the safety and suitability” of the virus in dealing with an excessive carp population.

The virus was proven to be harmless to humans and animals, but it causes kidney failure in carps, attacks their skin and kills the fish after sitting tight in its system for about seven days.

It causes high death rates in common carp and in the ornamental koi carp. No other species of fish, including goldfish, are known to be affected by the virus,” CSIRO official website says.

It affects the European carp by attacking their kidneys, their skin, their gills and stopping them breathing effectively,” Australian Science Minister Christopher Pyne said, according to ABC news.

They have the virus for a week before they show any symptoms and it suddenly kills them within 24 hours,” he dded.

It’s been calculated that the carp-control program planned to be launched in 2018 will kill 95 percent of the targeted fish over the next 30 years.

The project can’t be brought to life right away since it is still to be determined how to deal with dead bodies most effectively. A significant part of the budgeting is to be spent specifically on a clean-up program.

There’s obvious talk about whether the carp could be used for fertilizer, whether they could be used for pet food, whether they'll need to be buried in large graves and be allowed to dissipate back into the system,” Pyne noted.

Carps, that were described as the “rabbits of waterways” by Australia’s Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce for how quickly they breed and spread, have brought other populations of fish in the Murray River to the verge of extinction. Apart from that, every year Australia loses up to 500 million Australian dollars (more than US$ 380 million) due to the uncontrolled population of carps, he also said.

My response

My immediate response to the item was that it is a perfect response to the totally insanity of the human species in the midst of the predicament which is perfectly expressed by the expression "you can't have infinite growth on a finite planet"

In Australia's case it's a very finite planet.

It is an illustration of the usual response to problems caused by civilisation itself is to double down and to respond with more of the same.

I was aware of the Murray-Darling but only vaguely so.

This map was a revelation for me. 

The Murray-Darling Basin covers most to the most productive land in the country and is responsible for 50% of all crops

Take away the water of the Murray River and its tributaries and Australian "civilisation" is in deep trouble.

Add abrupt climate change to the mixture and you have disaster.

Most Australians (the ones that live in towns) will be blissfully (and often deliberately) ignorant of the extent to which their comfortable lifestyles are 100 percent dependant on the exploitation of this river system.

Most of the items they take for granted in the supermarket wouldn't be there were it not for the river.

The truth is that the Murray River hardly flows at all in parts and scarcely makes it to the sea.

If it wasn't for human intervention such as damming the river it would have completely dried up due to climate extremes and the rapacious exploitation by agriculture.

The dams have created colder water and the killing-off of native fish species has provided the perfect environment for introduced European species such as the carp. 

Hence the insanity of spending $11 million to introduce the herpes virus to kill off the car. 

I have to presume there are no native fish left to kill off because I doubt very much that the herpes virus will know the difference.

It is not difficult for those of us with our eyes open to join the dots about what this means for Australia.

A perfect storm of insane overexploitation of a resource in a country that cannot sustain more than a fraction of the actual population of Australia - combined with runaway climate change that will destroy the ability to grow food, especially in an already-dry continent.

I did find this documentary, More Than a River: the Murray-Darling Basin and its People which will be of particular interest to people like myself, living outside Australia.

And from the Wilderness Society of Australia

The Murray-Darling Basin is the largest river system in Australia and it is under threat. The science is telling us that we need to return a substantial amount of water to the system in order to ensure its long term health. Despite this, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority is gambling with the numbers, ignoring its own science and preparing to release a plan that will not only sell the river short, but the Australian people as well.


I am sure that our friend Deejay Rebel,living in interior Victoria will have something to say about these official temperature averages - just as I do about figures I see here in New Zealand.

This March was the hottest on record for Australia, according to new data released by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

The national mean temperature was 1.7°C above the historical March average, exceeding the previous record of 1.67°C set in 1986.

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