For Australian cattle farmer Jody Brown, the most chilling evidence of drought is the silence. Trees stand still, the warbling of birds gone. Lizards and emus have long departed, while kangaroo mothers, unable to sustain offspring, kick baby joeys from their pouches, leaving them to perish in the devastating heat.
“You just feel like you’re in some kind of post-apocalyptic scene,” 37-year old Brown said from her family’s ranch in Queensland’s central west. The constant dryness means her cattle herd has dwindled to around 400, down from 1,100 at its peak in 2002, and at times there have been no animals on the land at all. The native grasses, once green sustenance, have disintegrated into grey ash.
The world is facing a new era of rapidly increasing food prices that could push almost 2 billion more people into hunger in a worst-case climate crisis.