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article imageFrom Germany to Australia, drought affecting national economies

By Karen Graham     Oct 27, 2018 in World
Little rain, low water levels in rivers and bone-dry farmlands have affected crop production, delivery of goods and even disrupted oil and gas shipments, from Australia to Germany.
In Australia, the ongoing drought is forecast to cut Eastern Australia's crop production to less than half, with New South Wales being hit the hardest, reports Reuters.
The ongoing drought in Eastern Australia, or the "big dry," is now into its third or fourth year - forcing some farmers to hand-feed their stock, sell them, or even shoot them to stay afloat.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday the government was setting up a billion-dollar fund to "future proof" the country against droughts, saying the Aus$3.9 billion fund would be established to pay for drought resilience and water projects in the coming decade, reports Phys.org.
Australia is currently experiencing a bitter drought that is hammering farmers
Australia is currently experiencing a bitter drought that is hammering farmers
GLENN NICHOLLS, AFP
"(It) means we better future-proof against drought over the next 10 years and beyond," Morrison told commercial broadcaster Channel Nine ahead of a summit with agricultural leaders to discuss the drought.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) has already cut its forecast for the winter crop by 15 percent from its September report, with wheat down 13 percent to about 16.6 million tonnes, barely down 17 percent to 6.9 million tonnes and canola down 20 percent to 2.2 million tonnes.
Germany's rivers need water
A very hot and dry summer has left rivers and lakes in Germany at record low levels, disrupting the inland shipping industry, and causing billions of Euros in environmental damage, a scenario that scientists warm may portend for the future due to global warming reports the Associated Press.
Pedestrians cross the Aseler Bridge over the partially dried out Edersee lake in Asel-Sued  in centr...
Pedestrians cross the Aseler Bridge over the partially dried out Edersee lake in Asel-Sued, in central Germany
Boris Roessler, dpa/AFP/File
While Australia is most affected by drought in its eastern and southern regions, close to 90 percent of Germany has been hit with a drought this year. Conditions have been so bad that Lake Constance now has a new island, a river in Berlin is flowing backward and barges that ply the inland waterways are barely loaded to keep them from running aground.
The German government on Friday resorted to the unusual move of releasing the country's petroleum product reserves due to the record-low water levels of the Rhine disrupting oil shipments in recent weeks. A spokeswoman for the economy ministry told AFP the temporary measure was “specifically aimed” at certain areas and that Germany was not facing “a long-term crisis."
Areas worst hit by the petroleum crisis include Frankfurt’s busy international airport, as well as the city of Cologne and the western states of Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland Palatinate.
Cows and their calves eat some hay from a manger standing on a dry pasture in Rheinberg  western Ger...
Cows and their calves eat some hay from a manger standing on a dry pasture in Rheinberg, western Germany, in July. With no fresh grass, farmers have had to dip into winter feed stocks
Roland Weihrauch, dpa/AFP/File
On the few rivers that are still navigable, shippers are using more vessels with less weight on the boats, meaning far more trips are needed to deliver the same amount of products. This has resulted in sky-rocketing freight costs from food items to higher prices at gas pumps and for home heating oil.
Michael Kunz, with the Center for Disaster Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in talking about the economic effects of the drought on the agricultural sector said, “If you look at the overall economic effects, we’re talking certainly in the double-digit billions."
“Climate change means not only an increase in average temperatures but also in the increase of extreme events,” said DWD Vice President Paul Becker. “This year’s summer has been exceptional with its intensive drought and prolonged heat, but we expect an increase in such extreme periods in the future.”
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