Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: The Agony of Vanuatu and the New Climate Colonialism

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  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to st ephen,

    Hi st ephen

    There is a feeling that the estimated GWP grossly over-estimates methane’s contribution to damaging climate change (a view held by more than just dairy farmers and climate change deniers).

    What makes you think this? Anywhere I can reference it?

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Hansford, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Hi Amanda: of course, this Government has gone to great lengths to ensure that it WON'T assume any liabilities for emissions to date – and I suspect it will certainly push to have anything out to at least 2020 written off as well – especially from ag. emissions.

    Regarding the effective exporting of emissions – we've already seen the meat and dairy industries successfully convince the New Zealand public that they must pay the going international rate for goods produced just down the road from them. I wouldn't be surprised to see them simply externalise any extra costs/liabilities upon domestic consumers in exactly the same way, assuming of course that they're ever forced to start accounting for their own climate pollution.

    Regarding the costs of de-stocking: there are plenty of examples and studies around showing that diary, at least, doesn't necessarily have to be intensive to be profitable. The main winners so far from intensification have been the banks. If we would just start charging farmers for water and greenhouse emissions, the economics of 200-cow herds would change overnight, especially if dairy prices continue a long-term downward trend. And given what successive droughts have cost the country in lost productivity and emergency relief to farmers, the notion that de-intensifying must automatically mean losses is not at all clear-cut.

    Nelson • Since Apr 2008 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Hansford,

    Sorry Amanda: that should have been" 2000-cow herds" in the earlier post...

    Nelson • Since Apr 2008 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Dave Hansford,

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see them simply externalise any extra costs/liabilities upon domestic consumers in exactly the same way, assuming of course that they’re ever forced to start accounting for their own climate pollution.

    I’m a bit confused here.

    So you are saying that the farmer is entirely liable for the carbon emissions involved in the production of the steak that you are about to eat…? And the farmer shouldn’t be able to externalise the cost onto you, the consumer? So the steak costs more to produce but the public shouldn’t pay any extra for the environmental benefit of the farmer reducing their stocking rate? And you as the meat eater has no responsibility for any carbon emitted by virtue of your choice of diet?

    How can this approach be expected to produce the behavioural change needed to address climate change? Is your plan that we should reduce meat and dairy consumption by bankrupting the farmer?

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    I think it's more that the price paid has to reflect the true cost of production. That may indeed mean NZ and foreign dairy consumers have to pay more; and the price increase may decrease the demand.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1906 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Dave Hansford,

    Hi Amanda: of course, this Government has gone to great lengths to ensure that it WON'T assume any liabilities for emissions to date – and I suspect it will certainly push to have anything out to at least 2020 written off as well – especially from ag. emissions.

    What if the G20 start implementing border taxes on carbon emissions, given they're within WTO rules? If NZ finds itself on the receiving end of them, I suspect it'd only give the denialists an excuse to throw a Tea Party that would make the 1981 Tour look like a picnic.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    http://www.un.org/en/events/desertificationday/background.shtml

    A major part of desertification comes from changes in the weather patterns. The consequences will be diaspora of hundreds of millions of people needing food and water. This is bound to cause strife.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Amanda - not my field of expertise so I shouldn't really pass on half-remembered anecdote. Maybe start your Google search here.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    What do you propose we do about these huge stock numbers?

    I've said it here a number of times (yeah sorry), the best thing NZ could do about methane emissions from ruminants is leverage our existing scientific expertise to develop low methane producing grasses and low methane producing rumin bacteria.

    That would reduce our emissions but much more importantly it is a technology that could be applied (ie sold) worldwide which might actually make a real difference to the planet as opposed to any symbolic (also important) changes we can make to our own emissions.

    You could almost describe it as a national science challenge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    The way ‘we’ borrow I have no idea what the plan is for paying it all back (or if there even is one, or what we used as collateral in lieu)

    Paying it back is what the other government does when National isn't in power - really I thought that was obvious.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    how many other ‘deals’ has he got the math wrong on?
    I do despair at times…

    Well there were those assets he sold that were going to make simply squillions for us all ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That's GE crops you're talking about? NZ's got a long way to go before it would accept that. We'd sooner aerially dust the whole place with poison to protect the cattle from TB.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Peter Shaw,

    There is in fact no empirical evidence for CO2 being the problem it is touted to be

    And GMO foods have been proven to be dangerous
    Vaccination causes autism
    Flouridation of drinking water is bad for your health
    Trickle down economics works
    Traveling at speeds over 15 mph is unnatural and bad for you
    Paleolithic humans were healthier than modern humans

    Any others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Dave Hansford,

    Regarding the costs of de-stocking: there are plenty of examples and studies around showing that diary, at least, doesn’t necessarily have to be intensive to be profitable.

    I've read a number of pieces that suggest that most dairy farms do not produce milk at a profit, the business only makes a profit because of the capital gains on the farmland. So yeah current stock levels may not actually be the best for anyone really except the banks which are the big winners from the "buy land on debt and sell for gain" model.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    That’s GE crops you’re talking about?

    Not necessarily. But certainly if we used gene transfer it would be much quicker and easier.

    Worth noting that if we plan to sell the tech overseas then the fact that it is GMO is not relevant for China, USA, most of South America - those markets will do fine and have significant impact of methane emissions worldwide until we change our regulations.

    Also I suspect that a GMO grass that reduced methane emissions would prove to be a difficult problem for the anti GMO folks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I’ve read a number of pieces that suggest that most dairy farms do not produce milk at a profit, the business only makes a profit because of the capital gains on the farmland.

    That could only be because of debt servicing, though. Clearly a freehold farm producing twice the milk of another freehold farm the same size is going to be making more money. It can't be because the intensive farming is in some way less economically viable, otherwise they wouldn't do it. It's just that leveraging to the hilt is back in fashion. Effectively, the banks own the farms and are doing extremely well out of them.

    ETA: What I'm saying is that if an intensive dairy farmer suddenly won the jackpot and became freehold, I doubt that they'd choose to be less intensive in their farm for economic reasons.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Paleolithic humans were healthier than modern humans

    Not meaning to threadjack, but mention of the paleo diet always reminds me of Tim Flannery’s meeting with genuine cannibals in the Niugini highlands. The man of a village household described how they’d resort to cannibalism when times were tough. A neighbouring tribe served as “olosem eisbox” – the same as an ice box – for those occasions.

    After carrying out a night raid on their unfortunate neighbours they butchered the bodies and bundled the joints onto their backs. As they were about to depart a baby was heard crying from a string bag hung from a nearby tree, where his presumably now deceased parents had attempted to hide him.

    Returning to the present, the wife of the household put an affectionate arm around her now grown adopted son, who smiled happily as she explained that because they’d had so much to eat she’d had plenty of milk, just look how big and strong he’s grown.

    The moral that Flannery drew from that story was “We’re the ultimate plastic species. We can adapt to anything.”

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Paleolithic humans were healthier than modern humans

    Not meaning to threadjack, but...

    Easter Island/ rock mulch.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Hansford, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Yes Amanda: I'm saying that producers should be entirely liable for the pollution they cause in the prosecution of their business, just as the Government has said the forestry and energy industries already must be. If it can't turn a profit without polluting a public amenity/resource – air or water, say – and without forcing the public to pay the costs of that pollution, any business fails the standard measure of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

    Who pays the costs of the multi-million dollar cleanups of Lakes Rotorua, Ellesmere – the Waikato River? The public. Who will pay the costs – if ever we incur them – of our missed emissions targets? The public. Who pays to bail out farmers when drought – exacerbated by climate change – bites down? The public. This is straight-out protectionism, at the hands, ironically, of a neoliberal Government that under any other circumstances decries subsidy of any kind. It seems they can put market forces aside when it benefits their traditional voter/donor base.

    You may believe that all this is fair and equitable. I don't.

    Nelson • Since Apr 2008 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    We can adapt to anything.

    Yes, I don't think many scientists would suggest that we actually wouldn't survive a climate change disaster - it's not an extinction level event for our species. But that doesn't make it OK. The people of Vanuatu will pull through, but this is still a tragic turn of events.

    I do tend to agree with what Ian said earlier, though, that the horrific outcome for Vanuatu involves far more specific failures than our general human affect on the planet's climate. The quite extreme poverty of Vanuatu, leading to inadequate preparation and availability of disaster relief are very, very fixable things. But that was one hell of a storm. I'd be amazed if my house could withstand winds of that strength. What I do believe is that post-disaster the relief would come very quickly. A lot of people died from the earthquakes in Christchurch, but not so many from dehydration and starvation and disease in the days thereafter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    We can adapt to anything.

    Yes, I don’t think many scientists would suggest that we actually wouldn’t survive a climate change disaster – it’s not an extinction level event for our species. But that doesn’t make it OK.

    I'm not suggesting it's OK, My understanding of Flannery's take, which was on ABC radio some years ago, was that it's a reminder of the power we hold and it's attendant responsibilities. Retreating into spurious claims about how "nature intended us to be" is a vast cop-out.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I’m not suggesting it’s OK

    Of course you weren't, and I'm not suggesting you were :-) I thought I was elaborating on your point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    putting a damper on things...

    Flouridation of drinking water is bad for your health

    But flour and water is the basis of breadmaking!!
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7902 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    But flour and water is the basis of breadmaking!!
    :- )

    There you go wallpapering over my mistakes again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

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