Major inland cities are at risk of running out of water as the severe drought affects the Outback, with some left with limited time before their water runs out. Regional towns in New South Wales and southern Queensland are in danger of running out of water within the coming year. As the drought continues to tighten its grip across both states in the absence of rain, large regional hubs could exhaust their local water supplies as dam levels plummet. Major inland cities are at risk of running out of water as the severe drought affects the Outback, with some left with limited time before their water runs out (pictured: Armidale, NSW) Stanthorpe in Queensland is among the regional towns running out of water within the coming year Armidale (pictured) is also seeing severe shortages, forcing the government to jump in for help According to The Daily Telegraph, dam storage levels across regional areas have dropped 30 per cent in just 18 months. The major regional NSW areas most at … [Read more...] about How Australia’s beautiful inland cities are running out of WATER – as the ‘worst-ever’ drought shows no signs of ending – with residents being limited to 100 litres a day
A dank winter’s day in the Steel City did not hold obvious promise of the transformative power of nature. But not far from where a gaggle of office workers were enjoying a fag break, a friendly conservation volunteer called Paul ushered me down a ladder to an otherwise inaccessible spot on the banks of the river Don. I found myself, like Alice down the rabbit-hole, in a new sort of country, a lush carpet of floating weeds and a swift-moving ribbon of clear water at my feet muffling the sound of traffic and freshening the air. Paul and his colleague Karon were checking hidden cameras for Otterly Amazing!, a lottery-funded survey of Sheffield’s small otter population. The motion-sensitive cameras have captured these shy creatures hunting successfully in a river so polluted when I was a boy in the 1970s that it would literally catch fire. That’s not all they’ve recorded. Two urban explorers, wearing waders and headlamps, were once filmed emerging at the dead of … [Read more...] about Country diary: tracking otters on the Steel City riverbank
Nature writing is a boom industry in Britain, but it's nature writing of a particular flavour: astringent, controlled, in impeccably good taste. I can't think of anyone in these islands who writes like the American essayist Amy Leach, with such mad, magical exuberance and whimsy. This is a collection in the school of Annie Dillard, whose 1974 non-fiction masterpiece, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, has remained influential over the muddier sort of American letters. Leach begins with lilies and dickers marvellously onward through the cosmos, ranging from little to large, spinning exotic stories about the multiple feathered and freckled inhabitants of the Earth. Her roving eye might settle on portly, industrious beavers, "warm and dry in their oily parkas" and once categorised erroneously by a pope as fish, or else on Mars's moon Phobos, meaning "panic", which apparently resembles "a potato that has experienced one terrible, and many average, concussions". She certainly knows her onions, … [Read more...] about Things That Are: Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals by Amy Leach – review
The idealisation of the natural world is as old as the city, to the corrupting influence of which a return to pastoral life is always presented as a cure. But the increasing modern appetite of metropolitan readers for books about walking around and discovering yourself in nature is the literary equivalent of the rise of the north London "farmers' market". Both feed on nostalgie de la boue – the French term for a kind of rustic-fancying inverted snobbery, which literally means "nostalgia for the mud". In the case of the urban consumer of nature writing, of course, the mud is to be hosed off one's mental Range Rover immediately one lifts one's eyes from the page and gives silent thanks for the civilised appurtenances of hot yoga and flat whites. Much of the pastoral literary genre has long been a solidly bourgeois form of escapism. But nature is today also the arena for an oddly sublimated politics, and recent nature writing reflects some … [Read more...] about Is our love of nature writing bourgeois escapism?
When a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, hundreds of children were separated from their parents. More than 2,000 people died, with large areas being declared mass graves. But in recent weeks there have also been some extraordinary reunions.Fikri and Jumadil go missingMartha Salilama had left the stove on. When the earth shook with incredible power, she grabbed seven year old Fikri, her great nephew, and rushed out of the house. They had been cooking together, packets of yellow rice with fried chicken to sell at a beach festival to mark Palu city's anniversary."With things crumbling and falling around them, they ran out into the open. They were terrified that they would get trapped inside," says her sister Selfi Salilama, Fikri's grandmother.When the earth stopped shaking, Marta left Fikri with some neighbours who had gathered around a horse statue that sits on the Palu bay.She then went home to turn off the stove. "When she came back Fikri was … [Read more...] about Indonesia tsunami: ‘It’s an absolute miracle’ my child survived