44 x 60 cms – Luminance & Museum Acquarelle pencils on Canson Mi Teintes paper.
Lately I have returned to one of my favourite art themes, ‘Climate Change’, the result of a renewed interest in the subject of late. I’m amazed at the lack of understanding of the changes currently happening in the Australian climate by our politicians who spin a great deal of rhetoric, but seem intent to do very little especially when it comes to the perceived possibility of losing votes at the next election. Our climate is warming and we can do far more to control it than is being done.
The wine industry in Tasmania for example, has seen a steady influx of growers from the mainland who have come set up their businesses because the mainland climate has become too hot and too unreliable in some wine growing areas. This will no doubt benefit the local wine industry that is already enjoying great success locally, nationally and internationally. But then again, how much wine can one grow given the size of Tasmania and its share in the general wine market?
There’s another side to this issue that has begun to emerge in Tasmania; irrigation. On the ‘surface’ (excuse the pun) it all seems quite innocent, even enterprising to suggest that pumping water from a reliable source to a ‘arid’ area has merit. In theory this is quite a sound proposition. What concerns me is that the ‘reliable’ source is the Great Lake in Tasmania, a large volume of water that for many years has struggled to maintain any reasonable depth due to the demands placed upon it for Hydro Power generation. The ‘arid’ area is the Midlands region, more often than not, a tough, straw-coloured series of plains that is home to sheep and some cattle as well as cropping. This is a tough area to farm, where rainfall is scarce.
The aim is to grow a broader variety of crops on a commercial scale now that abundant supplies of water are available. Sounds great, but what of the water table? Is there a danger that the soil will become too saline and therefore become useless? How reliable will the supply of water be given that Tasmania’s rainfall patterns have changed over the years?
Tasmania is predominantly a ‘Hydro State’ when it comes to power generation. As has already been realized, when the lake levels are down, there is less power produced. Will this situation be repeated?
“Landscape Warming” is an aerial view of a section of landscape in Tasmania’s Midlands region. The ground is warming, bleached hay bales lay in one field, burnt hay bales in another, while salt (representing the rising saline level) can be seen in another. A smaller field is covered in rocks while nearby trees deal with the increasing salinity in the soil. This landscape is struggling. There’s no sign of vineyards here, but I suspect that it won’t be too long before this happens accompanied by a range of ‘new and exciting’ crops. In the meantime, new markings appear on the ground indicating a different direction in agriculture. Will the land cope?
Is the desire to produce ‘new’ crops because of the promise of irrigation and a warming climate visionary, or are we playing Russian roulette with the environment?