Longstanding drought has wreaked havoc across Australia, drying up lakes into shallow, acidic puddles and threatening drinking-water supplies. Unable to coax rain from the sky, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has fast-tracked a plan to buy back water entitlements from the heaviest irrigators in the Murray-Darling basin, an agricultural stronghold which produces all of the country’s rice, nearly all of its oranges, most of its pigs, half of its wheat and apples, and much of its cotton. The region covers 14 percent of the Australian continent but consumes 52 percent of its water. Environmentalists applaud Rudd’s plan on paper, though point out that there is, in fact, little water to buy back. “I don’t want to say that there’s some magic solution here,” admits Rudd. “I am trying to turn around a situation which has evolved over many years … and we are dealing with the real consequences of climate change.”