An eight-year drought in southeastern Australia is endangering the livelihood of farmers who depend on water to grow staple crops that help feed people around the world.
Many Australians believe that the drying up of the Murray-Darling Basin, an area the size of France and Germany combined, is a sign of permanent climate change.
As profitable crops like rice have collapsed, farmers are struggling to find new products and new technologies that use minimal amounts of water. Sometimes the challenges seem insurmountable: a record number of farmers have committed suicide.
While the Australian government has initiated various assistance programs to help farmers cope and survive, the total amount of water will never return to what it once was thanks to climate changes caused by greenhouse gases, according to the minister for agriculture.
This video report looks at how Australia's government and farming community is trying to adapt to the effects of climate change that are wreaking havoc on families, livelihoods and the agricultural output of the country.
"Farmers, in general, are very proud people, and this was a factor that we needed to address. So, we had these reports in the media of some horrific numbers of farmers taking their lives. We realized that we need to take the service out to the farming communities." - Andrew Gregory, Australian Government Drought Assistance
"We are in the front line of feeling the impact of climate change. And, as it's gone on, it's started to become, what's the impact then on the family? And that's having a very real bearing on some of the difficult decisions that they have got to make about their own futures." - Tony Burke, Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
"For those who hoped we were just in a normal cycle that was dipping a little bit lower than previously, it's not that. We need to be smarter than we have ever been before. That means we need to adapt to the new climate. We need to never turn our back on research and development." - Tony Burke, Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
1. What is climate change? What does it do?
2. Who is most affected by climate change?
1. The video says that an area the size of France and Germany combined is affected by drought in Australia. How would you react if this happened in the United States? How big of an area is that here?
2. How can a drought that impacts the agricultural sector affect other aspects of a country's economy? How would it impact the prices that Australians see at a grocery store for certain foods?
3. Are there communities in the U.S. that have been hit hard by climate change? What examples can you give?
4. What can you do individually to conserve natural resources like water and energy?
5. According to the video, the world's population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. What challenges does a population that large create? What can be done now to help plan for that situation?