Our living example of how bad things could get in areas prone to aridity is the continent of Australia where devastating drought, wildfires, heatwaves and flooding have plagued the land for years, now. This widely-circulated L.A. Times article describes how the situation in the land down under could visit many other regions of the planet including our own American Southwest if and when the atmosphere reaches a certain condition. We’re seeing plenty of water shortages already, and not only in our natural desert areas. The normally moist Southeast is just now recovering from severe drought.

If we can’t learn from Australia’s plight, we will have lost a perhaps irreplacable chance to plan and adapt.

Reporting from The Murray-Darling Basin, Australia — Frank Eddy pulled off his dusty boots and slid into a chair, taking his place at the dining room table where most of the critical family issues are hashed out. Spreading hands as dry and cracked as the orchards he tends, the stout man his mates call Tank explained what damage a decade of drought has done .

“Suicide is high. Depression is huge. Families are breaking up. It’s devastation,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got a neighbor in terrible trouble. Found him in the paddock, sitting in his [truck], crying his eyes out. Grown men — big, strong grown men. We’re holding on by the skin of our teeth. It’s desperate times.”