Australia, We Are Killing Ourselves

Every where we look we are being given clear signs of the blatant stupidity and arguably outright criminality of a toxic system of decision making. The Menindee Lakes and Darling River disaster is one example


A couple of years ago I was invited to speak at a Private Equity conference at a lovely resort in NSW. My remit was to discuss emerging issues and opportunities from a futurist’s perspective.

Along the way I noted water challenges and the implications of insecure water in Australia and stated that in my view Cotton should NEVER be grown in Australia, a position I’d stated in a published paper I wrote in 2004 (A Drop in the Ocean for Foresight Practitioners). An attendee from the floor pushed back firmly and initially claimed I was one of those types against cotton. I also pushed back and said I have no issues with cotton as a fibre. I DID have a significant issue with it being grown in Australia given the lack of water available and that in my view, there were far better uses for that water.

Attendee stated that ‘..they only grow it when there is lots of water..’ I said ‘not the point, that water should be allowed to flow down stream to replenish ALL parts of the system’. Attendee continued to push back, So I said ‘well I’ve stated my bias, in this country there is NO justification for growing cotton – what’s your bias – where do you stand?’

‘Private investor’

And now we see the implications writ large – toxic rivers upstream and a lack of water flowing into South Australia downstream. Aquifers not getting overflows to replenish; private deals and illegal siphoning; farmers of non cotton and communities being pitted against growers of cotton. It’s the EXACT same challenge as the ‘Eat OR Extract’ concept I’ve proposed regarding farmland or mining – you can’t have both and Australia needs to choose.

Cotton is an EXTRACTION model. With the Darling Basin area providing about 65% of all food grown and using about 50% or so of all water in Australia, creating toxic lakes and rivers can only be seen for what it is:

We are killing ourselves

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