Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 230 (Lemly et al. 2000 Dudgeon et al. 2006). Threats to rivers of the world are ubiquitous, with those potentially affecting sustainability of Lake Eyre Basin rivers including water resource development, other habitat degradation, invasive species, pollution and climate change (see Chapter 1). Most chapters in this book focus on the potential impacts of water resource development for obvious reasons: known widespread ecological and socio-economic impacts, a history of attempts to develop Lake Eyre Basin rivers, and the ever-present potential for further development. This has local, regional and global dimensions because the political and economic rationale for the development of water resources often relates to water supply and food security for expanding global populations. Current national policy is to develop natural resources of northern Australia, including water (Australian Government 2015). There are ~7.5 billion people in the world, with about two people added every second, leading to a projected total of ~9.7 billion by 2050. We all need water. Not only is water essential for drinking, but also the damming of rivers and diversion of water for irrigation enables much of our food and clothing production. The dilemma is that water resource development degrades rivers and affects water security for people and communities (Vörösmarty et al. 2010). Humanity seriously ‘injures’ rivers and their ecosystems by building dams and developing floodplains (Kingsford 2015 Kingsford et al. 2016). Dams allow river flows to be controlled and diverted, mainly for irrigation (Lemly et al. 2000), while irrigation and cropping on fertile floodplain can destroy a river’s most productive areas of biodiversity (Kingsford 2015). These two impacts often go together: once river flows are controlled, it no longer floods as extensively or frequently, allowing intensive cropping on the floodplain. For the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin, the spectre of mining exploration and development on floodplains is also a serious concern (see Chapters 19 and 20). This pressure to develop remains pervasive, despite a vibrant history of community opposition to such interventions (see Chapter 17). Fig. 22.1. Lively discussion of the future of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers involving people of the Basin who attended the 2013 conference, ‘Spotlight on the Lake Eyre Basin’, held in Longreach (photo, M. Turner).
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