I’m reading a lot about Australia’s drought these past couple days. Two things. First, it looks exactly like an accelerated version of my dystopic version of how California agriculture will respond to climate change. I’m always relieved at validation, because I thought through that post from first principles, not from copying a drought scenario.
But, one real bad thing is that one of the sidenotes in my old post is pretty prominent in these articles about Australian drought. Farmers kill themselves a lot. I guess the identification with their land and way of life is overwhelming. Maybe people at the Department of Public Health know more about that, but I don’t think many water managers think of responding to that as part of their job. Also, the first and worst victims of California’s water scarcity are and will be farm workers, but I don’t see mention of suicide in any of the newspaper stories about them. Why do farmers kill themselves but the more destitute farmworkers not? (Catholicism? Different sort of self-identification? Sampling and reporting error?) What’s going on here and how does it become part of drought response?