Those Cotton-pickin’ Multinationals!

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Farming, Nature, Politics, Social Responsibility | 6 Comments
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We are on a four-week trip through western New South Wales and Queensland in our little Toyota HiAce camper. Currently, we are at Maraboon Lake caravan park near the town of Emerald in Central Queensland.

Van at Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Our van with the washing hanging out

As I was waiting for a washing machine to become available, I looked out over the lake, said to be the size of three Sydney Harbours, and noticed how low the water was. It was clear from the bare ground on my side and on the opposite shore that there is only a fraction of the volume it should have – and that was after good rains to the north that should have filled it.

Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Lake Maraboon – the bottom of the boat ramp is about 25 metres back up the slope.

Another camper came to get her washing from the machines and we got talking. She said the water was noticeably down from when she was here last year, and that it is at only 15% of capacity now (it is officially at 18.2%). It is no wonder the park – and probably the town of Emerald too – is under severe restrictions on water use.

 

I mentioned the large cotton farm to the east of Emerald that we had passed on our way here yesterday and how stupid it is to grow cotton in such dry country. She agreed. “It’s not even a food crop”, she said, “and they’ll export it all to make cotton clothing in Bangladesh. Then we’ll have to import the finished products as we don’t have a clothing industry any more.”

 

Cotton near Emerald July 11. 2019 Xsmall

This photo was taken at a distance. Those yellow-wrapped cotton bales are huge!

I could only agree that it is all so terribly wrong stupid. Exporting cotton is, in reality, exporting our scarce and valuable water. All the profits will go overseas and we will just be left with the costs, which are huge. Unemployment, and loss of national and local income to the multinationals who don’t even pay tax on their profits but get subsidies instead. Even worse, much worse, is the cost to the environment and our surface and artesian water systems.

It has been a while since I drove over the dry Hay plains in western NSW, but the woman I was speaking with had been there recently. She said that the plains are now a sea of huge cotton farms with similarly huge dams that take the water from the Murrumbidgee River. No wonder the whole Murray-Darling river system, which drains much of north-western Queensland and NSW and of which the Murrumbidgee is part, is in dire straits.

Riverine water levels are terribly low, millions of fish have died, and whole towns have been left without a water supply, and all because of the billions of litres that go to irrigate the cotton fields. Check this article.

The cotton growers say it isn’t their fault, that they are farming sustainably [HAH!]. Governments, both state and federal, allow this destruction to continue, even promote it, and then cover up the extent of the damage to the environment.

As long as the multinationals are allowed to plunder this country for their own benefit and at the expense of the environment, and as long as our weak and venial governments allow this to happen, in order to get political power, our land, then our water, our wildlife and our people have little chance of surviving, especially in the current situation of climate change.

Cotton near Emerald July small

These cotton bales are about two metres in diameter, and there were hundreds of them

When will we ever learn?

 

(c) Photos by Dirk & Linda Visman

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6 Comments »

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  1. It’s the same, as they say, all over. About the only good thing to come from EU is the farming policy, which (although its primary motive is support of French smallholders) at least keeps the brakes on industrial scale farming. It’s a shame they don’t pay equal attention to drift mining, fracking, purse seining, speculative banking – the list goes on. I guess common sense doesn’t count for much anymore. Only asset-stripping and dividends make sense. As a small person, I feel I am getting smaller all the time! Roll on Armageddon?

    • I feel the same way you do, Frederick. 😦 The world is going to hell & it seems we can do little, if anything, to stop it. Very discouraging. and I wonder what our grandchildren and their children will have to do to survive.

  2. We never learn, no matter where we live.

  3. Cotton and rice and two crops Australia should never grow. I truly believe our governments, both state and federal, are tainted by a low level of corruption that no one wants to acknowledge. :/

  4. I fear you may be right. Was watching The Drum last night and apparently nothing has happened since the Banking RC. Canberra is an incestuous pit.


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