Jones, Rebecca: Slow Catastrophes: Living with Drought in Australia

Rebecca Jones

Slow Catastrophes: Living with Drought in Australia, Monash University Publishing, Melbourne, 2017

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 both the frequency and severity of these phenomena. Stories of drought are familiar to us, accompanied by images of dead sheep, dry dams, cracked earth, farmers leaving their lands, and rural economic stagnation. Drought is indeed a catastrophe, played out slowly. But as Rebecca Jones reveals in this sensitive account of families living on the Australian land, the story of drought in this driest continent is as much about resilience, adaptation, strength of community, ingenious planning for, and creative responses to, persistent absences of rainfall. The histories of eight farming families, stretching from the 1870s to the 1950s, are related, with a focus on private lives and inner thoughts, revealed by personal diaries. The story is brought up to the present with the author’s discussions with contemporary farmers and pastoralists. In greatly enriching our understanding of the human dimensions of drought, Slow Catastrophes provides us with vital resources to face our ecological future. (blurb)

Geoffrey Blainey reviews the book in The Australian. Review in the Weekly Times. Tom Griffiths launches the book in Melbourne.

Rebecca Jones contributed a chapter to The Honest History Book. The chapter was called ‘Fire, droughts and flooding rains: Environmental influences on Australian history’.

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