Sunday, March 17, 2013

It rained today

It may seem a pretty ordinary thing to say, but it rained in Auckland today. Sadly, it won’t end the drought—New Zealand’s worst in 70 years.

Last Friday, the New Zealand government declared that the entire North Island is in drought. Much of the South Island is, too. We’ve had a total fire ban in Auckland for weeks (meaning, no open flames/fires, only gas BBQs, no hangi or umu). However, we haven’t yet had any water restrictions.

Other parts of the country have water restrictions as well as fire bans, and the shortage water for irrigation is severely affecting farmers, as shown in the video I posted last week. But, MetService says the rain we received today won’t be enough to end the drought. The Finance Minister said today that the drought could cost New Zealand $2 billion. Consumers have been warned to expect food prices to go up sharply.

We don’t have extensive gardens at our house, so we haven’t had to worry about plants. Still, I did have to water two potted yuccas and some potted parsley. Where we notice the effects of the drought the most is with our fences: The wood has become so dry after weeks of hot, sunny weather that boards have shrunk, making the gaps between the boards much wider—big enough to see through. That hasn’t happened before, but, then, this is a particularly bad drought.

Climate scientist Professor James Renwick told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that climate change means that "what we call a very warm year now will be a cold year in 50 or 60 years' time. What we'd call a dry summer now will be getting closer to the normal summer in another 50 to 100 years' time." I’m unlikely to live to see the worst of it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care about it. The choices and policies we make now could help prevent or, at least, improve the situation then.

So, the view out the window in the photo above was very welcome. In fact, I sat and watched it rain for a little while; since it’s been so long without it, it was kind of novel.

And that’s why for us it really was news that it rained today.

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