By Ian Longfield, Transition Towns Albury Wodonga
The tragic floods in Queensland should be a reminder that we can’t control the weather, but we can be prepared for it. While we have been spared in Albury Wodonga from the direct carnage of the floods in both Queensland and other parts of New South Wales and Victoria, we will start to feel the indirect effects soon enough in much higher food prices as supply and transport of produce has been disrupted.
While we are in no danger of starving (and some of us could do with eating less anyway) we should all be thinking about how dependent we are on long distance supply chains and the sorts of disruptions that could take us by surprise .
In this particular case a severe weather event that may have been linked to a changing climate, took everyone by surprise, just as we were starting to recover from a severe drought. There are other surprises lurking out there that could just as easily disrupt supply chains to Albury Wodonga, some of which we know, some that we don’t know…well you know how it goes.
One that is rearing its head again is high oil prices which are again nearly $100 a barrel. We know that this will increase the cost of transport of food all the way along the supply chain. As Australia now imports 80% of our daily liquid fuel supplies, and Albury Wodonga would import well over 80% of our daily food by road, we are just as vulnerable to oil supply shocks as we are to climatic ones.
While we can’t control international oil markets or the weather, there is much we can do locally to increase our resilience. Most of us on the Border have access to a little patch of land right outside our back doors that could easily be put to use growing some vegetables, fruit, nuts or olives. A couple of chooks can also add some eggs and possibly meat if things get really desperate.
While it may require some effort to grow some of your own food, it may just be the most important insurance each of us individually, and as a city, can take out. The worst that could happen is that we end up eating better healthy food and always have plenty on hand to cope with any unexpected shocks.