Saturday, January 01, 2011

El Nino and la Nina

My heart goes out to those suffering in the most severe floods in living memory on the Australian north eastern coast and moving inland as the river systems flowing towards Lake Eyre fill. We have had our own floods here in the West recently (around Carnarvon) but, devastating as they were to those who saw their livelihoods and homes disappear, they are not on the same scale as those happening now.

El Nino and La Nina. These grim children are the weather patterns caused by the Southern Oscillation in the Pacific Ocean which have dramatic effects on the weather of east coast Australia as well as other Pacific rim countries. They can be benign but, like all children, they sometimes tantrum and when they do they can be destructive and vicious. El Nino was kinder than usual bringing some rain instead of his usual dry weather but La Nina is showing no such restraint. She is pouring vast quantities of rain down on Queensland and northern NSW. The rivers are breaking their banks and engulfing whole towns. The loss in personal terms - of property and crops -is hard to comprehend and that we must be grateful there has not been more loss of life.

I don't think it has really registered yet for many Australians that this is going to impact on us all. Carnarvon in the West and southern Queensland are two of the major producers of fruit and vegetables for the country and we are all going to experience shortages as a result. One estimate I heard was that we can expect our weekly food shopping to go up by 35%. This is very worrying for those on low and fixed incomes. We usually grow most of our own vegetables but this year - Real Life having been less than kind to us - I hadn't got the summer food garden planted. Despite the heat - we've been averaging in the high 30s and up to 40 degrees Centigrade recently - I have now and, although the harvest will be less than usual, it will help. I don't think I was the only one with this idea. When we went to buy our seedlings the amount on the shelves was very sparse. Still we now have zucchinis, butternut squash and cucumbers, plus lettuce, nasturtium and snake bean seeds tucked up in their seed boxes, which is a start. Add to these lots of basil (think pesto stored away in the freezer for winter), parsley (curly and plain leaf), onion and garlic chives and things are looking up.

1 comment:

Satima Flavell said...

Yes, it's a worry. Being on a pension and without a garden I can see my love of salads and fruit is going to take a hammering!