“Basically we need rain and we need it now”

There are two stories I’ve seen as I wander around the internet (does anybody else experience internet-lag, when they travel? I can conquer my own jet-lag, although I did just oversleep; the news cycle however is much harder to adapt to, short-term): the first is another story about kids being killed in America (it is so prominent that merely searching Google news for “Newark” will get you nothing but the story.

A while back, now, Gary Younge wrote about this, following the Virginia Tech shooting – America’s ability to be ever surprised and confused by its own gun violence. Some of my favourite graphical statistics of the New York Times (who do a fine turn in this sort of thing) related to guns. One can relate, for example this graphic from April of this year (“An Accounting of Daily Gun Deaths” – no sadly, it relates not to the death of guns):

NY Times gun deaths

Larger version here. With this earlier one from the Op-Ed Piece, “The Toll of Small Arms“:

NY Times small arms

Larger version here. The second story, which I should have said from the top was not related – although the title alone should have had that covered – is this one, in which NSW is, apparently, back in drought.

More than three quarters of NSW is now in the grip of drought, latest figures show.

The percentage of the state in drought went up last month from 69.9 per cent to 75.8 per cent.

The area of NSW experiencing marginal drought conditions has increased from 10.8 per cent to 14.6 per cent since June while the area experiencing satisfactory conditions plummeted to 9.6 per cent from 19.6 per cent.

The statistics there aren’t nearly as well-presented but, then, we’re a little unsophisticated on the matter of selling newspapers. Our TV shows don’t even spend all that much on smart graphics and Law-and-Order background music. The link between them is this: I believe every culture has its own idiosyncrasy with regards to Benjamin Franklin’s insanity.

Politics does not count, because we are always suckered into believing that, this time, the government will elect will be good. Which is precisely how it should be, and perhaps one day we’ll be right.

So, while America’s is the persistent disbelief that all those guns will eventually fire all those bullets and hit all those people (caveat: the details of the Newark killings are rather horrid, even by generic American Gun Death Standards), Australia’s has got to be rain. Hence the title of the blog post. Here are a few quotes:

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said farmers needed a repeat of rains that fell in late June and early July.

“Basically we need rain and we need it now to ensure decent yields are received from winter crops.”

“For crops to achieve reasonable yields, significant rain will be required across most parts of the grain belt before temperatures rise in spring,” he said.

The time in which rain is ‘needed’ could pretty well be measured in Friedman Units. As usual, it doesn’t look promising:

BoM 3-month

Larger version here. Super-skeptic (not in the pejorative sense, entirely) Warwick Hughes, though, tells us not to believe the Bureau of Meteorology. His comparison of predicted vs. actual rainfall fairly splendidly sticks it to the Bureau, while also demonstrating that, of the country as a whole, the Eastern Seaboard has had it the worst.

So, I guess, I’m saying food prices (wheat, dairy and livestock-based) in Australia are probably still heading upwards.


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