With the knowledge from their deserts, Australians can reshape the human story. The desert is teaching them new ways to live, manage slender resources, and cope with lack of water and energy, harsh climate and isolation. These issues will confront most of the worldâ€™s citizens in the 21st Century, as climate change, population growth and resource scarcity impact on society. The deserts also teach what it is to be Australian, how to dwell within the rhythms and constraints of a vast continent that is three quarters arid. Australians find it hard to decide about the Outback: is it remote and unassailableâ€”or at the core of their national identity? Endlessly Australians debate whether they should develop the inlandâ€”or ignore it, because it's too hard and too costly. Learning how to live well in this desert lies at the heart of Australian destiny as a nation and at the center of their response to climate change. It engages the culture, knowledge and skills that will matter most to future Australians as they strive to sustain themselves in world on the edge of sustainability. It is the ultimate test of their resolve to discover a truly Australian way to live on this continent. As the world faces increasing drought in the uncertain climate of the future, it is also a source of knowledge to export to many other places. Dry Timesis a wake-up call to Australia and the world. It explores wellsprings of creativity and innovation from the desert that can deliver solutions to the challenges of living in an uncertain and threatening future. It describes many positive lessons for our nation and humanity in a changing and resource-scarce world.
Derek Hayesis a noted historian and the author of numerous historical atlases, includingThe Historical Atlas of the Northern American Railroad, Historical Atlas of the United States, andHistorical Atlas of the American West, all from UC Press.Julian Cribbis an award-winning journalist and science writer and the author ofThe White Death.