An amazing dust storm over Sydney this morning, the result of a number of remarkable climatic events. A big cold front, the result of unseasonably warm September weather, whipping up huge amounts of dust from the central Australian drought, bringing strong winds to the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and dumping its load all over Sydney and Newcastle.
Here's my Flickr slideshow of pics that I took this morning, and the ABC's extensive reportage.
Australia has been a leading exporter of rice, supposedly feeding up to 40 million people worldwide. But decades of mismanagement of water allocations in the Murray-Darling river basin, exacerbated by the recent drought, has hit rice crops hard, despite the fact that Australian farmers have taken huge leaps in improving water efficiency in rice production.
But there's another problem. They can grow grapes on their land, using less water and making money from the booming wine industry. Yes, the hungry of the world risk playing second fiddle to middle-class Aussie tipplers.
Al Jazeera English visited the Riverina district of New South Wales for this report, which aired on April 23:
For today (January 23), Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) have stated that they will donate the day's profits from their Woolworths and Safeway supermarkets across Australia to the Country Women's Association of Australia for "distribution to farming families in need across Australia and research into sustainable farming practices".
Today, November 26, has been proclaimed a National Day of Prayer by the Heads of Christian Churches meeting in this time of severe drought.
The heads of Churches called for all Australians to pray for:
- desperately needed rain
- those who are severely drought affected, and
- commitment to responsibly care for all our natural resources
There is a lot more information, including prayer resources, at the National Council of Churches website.