Slow Catastrophes: Living with Drought in Australia
Dead sheep, dry dams, cracked earth and economic devastation: we feel we understand drought and yet there is more to this story. Australias long history of drought has goaded people to adapt and respond creatively. This book explores the way people have lived and worked with drought from the nineteenth century until today. This history is revealed through the personal, intimate stories of eight farming families living between the 1870s and 1950s. Each of these households is brought to life, through personal diaries, in the daily rituals of life on the land in different times and places, in accounts of families, communities, weather and political events. More than a history of farming, this is a picture of humanity, resilience, emotions and creative ways of adapting to a changing climate which reveal stories of national and global importance. Living with drought is one of the biggest issues of our times. Climate change scenarios suggest that in the next fifty years global warming will increase the frequency and severity of drought; the book suggests new and surprising ways in which people have adapted to climate extremes. This is a lively, colourful and accessible history which will inform and entertain. It is neither triumphal nor didactic, but tells of people learning about the land, to cope and adapt to a variable climate which is a constant presence in their everyday lives.
Rebecca Jones is an environmental and Australian historian in the School of History and Centre for Environmental History at The Australian National University. She is author of Green Harvest: a History of Organic Farming and Gardening in Australia and has published widely in environmental history, Australian history and rural health and wellbeing.