Monday, July 31, 2006

Climate Change is Bull----, says Murdoch Press

Debate on climate change far from over
The UN panel from which governments get their information is deeply flawed, writes Economics editor Alan Wood

AT lunchtime on Monday, John Howard and Victoria's Steve Bracks were on their feet talking about energy, climate change and the environment. While their approaches were notably different, there is one thing on which they both agree: the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the font of all scientific wisdom on global warming.

In fact it has become quite fashionable of late to assert the global warming debate is over and an overwhelming scientific consensus prevails. This is simply untrue.

As acknowledged in an Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics report on climate change scenarios, also released on Monday, there are still considerable scientific uncertainties surrounding the nature and extent of future climate change.

A report released in the US on Friday has torn apart one of the main props used by the IPCC to illustrate the need for urgent action on climate change. The report raises serious questions about the IPCC process and the findings on which world governments rely in forming their climate change policies. First, some background.

In telling the global warming story the IPCC, since 2001, has relied very, very heavily on what has become known as the "hockey stick". It is based on a 1999 paper, the principal author of which was paleoclimatologist Michael Mann.

Before the publication of his paper the generally accepted view of the past 1000 years was that there was a period of elevated temperatures known as the Medieval Warm Period, which was followed by the Little Ice Age, and then a new period of global warming.

Mann's hockey stick eliminated the Medieval Warm Period, flattening the fluctuations in global temperatures over most of the past millennium (the handle of the hockey stick) until we get to the 20th century, where the rate of global warming takes off in a sharp upward surge (the blade of the hockey stick).

This is the basis for the IPCC claim, now widely accepted, that the 20th century was the warmest in the past 1000 years, the 1990s were the warmest decade in the past millennium, and 1998 was the warmest year in the past 1000 years. Scary stuff!

Two Canadians, Steve McIntyre, an engineer, and Ross McKitrick, an economist, challenged Mann's work in 2003. They argued his technique produced hockey sticks from just about any set of data. Mann responded in a notably less than scientific manner by withholding adverse statistical results and important data, and discouraging the publication of criticism of his work.

A Wall Street Journal report of the controversy last year attracted the attention of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce. It wrote to Mann and his co-authors, as well as to the IPCC, demanding relevant information and then approached independent US statisticians for advice on assessing the data provided.

Leading US statistician Edward Wegman, of George Mason University, who is chairman of the US National Academy of Sciences' committee on applied and theoretical statistics, agreed to assemble a group of statisticians to assess the Mann data. Their report was released last Friday and supported McKitrick and McIntyre's criticisms of the hockey stick, finding Mann's statistical work flawed and unable to support the claims of the hottest century, decade and year of the past millennium.

Yet the IPCC used the hockey stick in its publications, media releases, press conferences - where senior IPCC figures sat with the chart as a backdrop - and, for a time, incorporated it into the IPCC's logo.

It is important to understand that this is a debate about the use of statistics. Mann did no original scientific work, using available data and manipulating it in a new way.

However, it destroys the idea of an alarming escalation in global temperatures and, as the Wall Street Journal remarked on Friday, brings the present temperature rise within the range of natural historical variation.

There remains plenty of room for argument about the projections of future temperature rises and their implications, based on what are still primitive climate change models. But there is no escaping the damage done to the IPCC's reputation. It has relied heavily on a badly flawed piece of work, produced by what Wegman discovered was a small, insular group of paleoclimatologists who incestuously peer review, reinforce and defend each others' work.

Significantly, former commonwealth statistician Ian Castles and his colleague David Henderson, former head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's economics department, have also exposed statistical and analytical flaws in the economic scenarios underlying the IPCC's climate change projections. As with McIntyre and McKitrick's criticism of the hockey stick, the IPCC establishment initially tried to ignore, then discredit, their work.

However, last year a House of Lords committee looking at the economics of climate change praised their work and said that without them the debate on emissions scenarios would not have taken place.

The Lords committee also expressed concerns that the IPCC was an increasingly politicised body that tried to suppress dissent. It warned of a risk it was becoming a knowledge monopoly, "in some respects unwilling to listen to those who do not pursue the consensus line".

In an article last week in Canadian newspaper the National Post, McIntyre and McKitrick say the IPCC's lead author, who selected Mann's hockey stick for prominent display, was none other than Mann himself. They quote eminent US climate science academic Kurt Cuffey as saying the IPCC's use of the hockey stick sent "a very misleading message".

They ask a pertinent question.

If the IPCC process isn't fixed, and there is no evidence the IPCC intends to do anything about it, how do we know it won't send out another very misleading message in its upcoming Fourth Assessment report?

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Government just doesn't get it, says Fairfax press

Australia's Fairfax press empire is throwing its weight behind a sane approach to global warming. Two recent articles sound the call to arms. In The Age, Tim Colebatch wrote on July 18, 2006: "If the science is right (and each year seems to confirm it), then we and the world are facing changes that will reduce our ability to grow food, and could threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

"The Prime Minister's disappointing speech yesterday was more evidence that at the top of this Government they just don't get it. New technology is not an alternative to carbon taxes and emission trading schemes, it is their outcome. And the massive scale of the problem is not a reason to do less, but to do more.

"You can pour money into research and development of clean technologies and hope for breakthroughs. But let's be pragmatic. Unless the new clean technologies cost less than the old polluting ones, business will not take them up. That's why you need a tax or regulatory system that creates a financial incentive to do so. Then markets will work, and clean technologies will take over."

The next day, the Sydney Morning Herald's planning writer Elizabeth Farrelly wrote, "This is the mystery. Polls show we worry about climate change, but we vote from the hip pocket. John Howard, the polls tell us, makes us feel safe. But we blind ourselves to the yawning chasm between feeling safe and being safe."

Climate change has become a moral issue, she says. Maybe the moral issue. "In Australia, where governments quail before moral issues, the vacuum is filling with an unlikely alliance of business and philanthropic lobby groups. The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change argued in April that a 60 per cent cut in Australia's emissions is compatible with strong economic growth. Westpac's chief executive officer, David Morgan, known for lampooning emissions proposals as Mein Kampf and seeing carbon trading as a European conspiracy, notes that 'the next president of the United States … [is expected] to initiate urgent action on climate change'.
"In the US, where the writer Elizabeth Kolbert argues the need for an "environmental Churchill", an obstructionist Bush White House is nevertheless ringed by cities, states, Congress and the courts, plus a few inner-Republican colleagues, determined to make change. Last year, California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, launched a plan to cut state emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. "The debate is over," he said. "The science is in. The time to act is now." Right-wing evangelical leaders of 30 million people marched on Capitol Hill, urging leadership on climate change. Since then, 238 US mayors have pledged to "meet or beat" Kyoto; the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has supported emissions caps and the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether CO 2 regulation should be mandatory."


U.S. government scientists testified before a congressional committee July 20, trying to dispel any doubts that climate change and the human role in it is real, documented by abundant scientific research.

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, a Republican from Virginia, urged the issue be discussed in a nonpartisan way. “For too long, the political dialogue on climate change has been dominated by black-and-white grandstanding, either finger-wagging or head-in-the-sand denial and denunciation,” he said. “There has been no reasonable discourse.”

Committee members wanted to know if climate change was real and what is the impact of human activity.

The director of the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Thomas Karl, said: “Some greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere because of human activities and increasingly trapping more heat.”

Scientists use climate models to project what the different outcomes might result from fluctuations of the many variables in the climate system. Climate models are computer programs that use mathematical equations to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice. “Climate models have become the primary means to predict climate,” said Karl.

Scientists have to use some approximations in their data about climate conditions in constructing the models. Critics of climate-change science argue those models are inaccurate and provide insufficient basis upon which to make major changes in the use of fossil fuels, which create the greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.
Mr Karl stood by the models. “They’re reliable enough to be a very useful guide into the future,” he said.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Big corporates call for carbon credits for Aussies

A group of leading companies, including Visy Industries, BP Australia, Insurance Australia Group, Origin Energy, Swiss Re and Westpac called on the Commonwealth Government to set up a national carbon trading scheme.
The six-company Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change is a part of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). Business could not act effectively on climate change without a government-sponsored carbon trading policy, said Visy Industries chief executive Harry Debney, addressing a CEDA luncheon on 20 July, 2006. "We need more policy certainty to achieve the long-term investments needed to really change the game," he said. "We will never really achieve the optimum policy in water as we won't with energy unless we have the right economic signals. A carbon trading signal of some form has to be developed."
BP Australia environmental affairs adviser Fiona Wild said that by not taking action on climate change today "we are not only making the task a lot harder, we are also making it more expensive".
The federal government has ruled out a national carbon trading scheme.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Soil sequestration hero wins highest award

A world leader in the race to find the methodology for accurately measuring soil carbon for sequestration has been awarded the highest honour a soil scientist can achieve. Ohio State University soil scientist Rattan Lal was given the prestigious Liebig Applied Soil Science Award at the World Congress of Soil Science conference. Professor Lal is director of Ohio State's Carbon Management and Sequestration Center and a professor with the School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Prof. Lal has spent 18 years studying carbon sequestration -- the technique of storing carbon in the soil -- and its influence on soils throughout the world. Other areas of research include soil processes and atmospheric greenhouse effects, sustainable management of soil and water resources, restoration and rehabilitation of degraded soils, agro-forestry, tropical agriculture and agricultural development in the Third World.
The 18th World Congress of Soil Science, held in Philadelphia, Pa. July 9-15, 2006, was organized by the International Union of Soil Science and the Soil Science Society of America. More than 2,500 soil scientists from 70 countries attended. Prof. Lal delivered a paper at the conference: "Are Recalcitrant Biomacromolecules Potential Sinks in the Global Carbon Cycle?" Sounds cool. For the soil scientists who understand this stuff, here's some of the abstract of the paper he co-authored with Dr Klaus Lorenz:

"The major reservoirs of carbon on Earth are the oceans (38,400 Gt), the lithosphere (75,000,000 Gt) and the terrestrial biosphere (2,500 Gt). The atmospheric CO2 exchanges rapidly with the C pool in the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere. Fossil fuel burning, however, unlocks C from the lithospheric pool (i.e., kerogen, coal, petroleum) while land-use changes may release C from the soil organic C (SOC) pool. The resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 by human activities contributes to the climate change. Until CO2-neutral technologies for energy production are available, managing the SOC pool is an opportunity to slow the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2. The proportion of the stable SOC increases with increase in soil depth due to physical stabilization and changes in microbial processes but also due to increase in inputs of recalcitrant plant-derived biomacromolecules and their selective preservation. By comparing the occurrence of biomacromolecules preserved in fossil fuels and fossil plant remains for thousands to millions of years (i.e., terrestrial biomarkers) with those stored for thousands of years in sediments and in soil profiles in the stable SOC pool, plant biopolymers with a high residence time can be identified. The n-alkyl compounds are found in recent and ancient sediments, vascular plant leaf extracts, fossil plant tissues and petroleum. However, only the very high range of the n-alkane odd-over-even predominance in the number of C atoms is a potential chemotaxonomic tool for inputs from higher plants. A variety of pentacyclic triterpenoids are used as general tracers of higher plant input (e.g., in crude oils, marine sediments). Steroids are common in higher plants and attributed to higher plant inputs in petroleums and ancient sediments, but not in marine sediments. Cutin-derived compounds are used as chemotaxonomic tracers for higher plant inputs to younger marine sediments. Lignin commonly occurs in woody tissues and cell walls of vascular plants, but lignin-derived records for marine and lacrustine sediments can be biased by selective preservation. Furthermore, lignin is not as stable in soil as previously thought. Resin-derived compounds (i.e., sesquiterpenoids and diterpenoids) are commonly found in petroleum, and inputs by gymnosperms and conifers can be distinguished. Suberins/suberans and tannins may also contribute to the stable SOC pool. By selecting plant/cultivars with higher concentrations of biomacromolecules showing a high preservation potential, the residence time of C in the soil can thus be directly managed. The scientific knowledge, however, about biomacromolecules contributing to the stable C pool in biosphere and lithosphere is scanty. With the development and application of new techniques for the elucidation of structural features of organic compounds in the earth's crust, the potential of biomacromolecules as C sinks in the global C cycle and their role in mitigating climate change can be evaluated."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Inspiration when it's needed.

How can we hope to win if the most popular Prime Minister in history declared carbon credits are a dead letter?
What can we do against the might of the most powerful nation on the planet who's President is a fossil fuel fanatic?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Prime Minister "discourages" farmers on carbon

Australia could become an 'energy superpower', selling coal and oil to an energy hungry world. Renewable energy is too expensive, so nuclear is likely to become mainstream in Australia. And carbon credits are not on the horizon for anyone in Australia. This is the conclusion from Mr Howard's speech to the Council for the Economic Development of Australia on 17 July, 2006.*
"Clean coal" and nuclear are the future, he says, both playing to Australia's strengths. And Kyoto is not for signing, he says, because companies would leave Australia if it signed.
"This is a very discouraging message from our national leader," says Michael Kiely, Convenor of the Carbon Coalition.
"Surely Mr Howard has been badly advised by public servants. ABC 4Corners revealed how the coal industry had been given unusual free access to influence energy policy, even to the extent of writing the Department's Cabinet submissions," he says.
The Prime Minister's speech writers have made some glaring errors, says Mr Kiely. "Fancy having the Prime Minister make a statement such as that companies would leave Australia if we signed Kyoto. Where could they go? The rest of the world has signed, except the USA, and most observers believe it will sign when the new Administration is sworn in. Big companies here like Westpac, IAG and Origin Energy are asking for Kyoto."
The Carbon Coalition will be lobbying the Prime Minister to ask him to consider the opportunity for Australian farmers and the natural resource base if soil carbon credits can be traded. It will also be lobbying the Kyoto signatories to ask them to allow Australian farmers to trade on the European Climate Exchange.

*Posted at

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Government policy against soil C credits

A research paper called "National and International Policies Affecting the Demand for Soil Carbon Sequestration" reveals how US Government Policy stands in the way of Soil C Credits. The paper by Linda Young, Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, gives an overview of the various climate change policies currently in place or being discussed around the world. It discusses how these various policies affect the market for carbon trading and the demand for soil carbon sequestration.

She concludes: "U.S. markets for agricultural carbon sequestration services will likely be small unless there is a change in U.S. federal climate-change policy. The Bush administration's climate-change policy establishes emissions reductions at roughly the same pace that they have occurred over the past twenty years due to technological advances. Current U.S. policy is likely to keep demand for carbon credits weak in the United States and given that the United States cannot export carbon credits to entities in countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, international demand for U.S. carbon credits will remain weak as well. As a result, there is little impetus to overcome the verification and measurement challenges the market would require for agricultural sequestration services. State programs are strengthening demand for carbon credits, but at the cost of complying with a myriad of requirements for business that vary by state.

"The development of the carbon market would be facilitated by the emergence of a seamless market with one set of rules for those demanding and supplying carbon credits. Market demand for agricultural sequestration services is likely to remain weak."

Australia's federal government policy follows US policy in lockstep.

See the full paper, with references, at:

British companies demand tougher emission targets

Fourteen British companies are demanding that the UK Government push for tougher emissions limits in the second round of the Kyoto process, the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The group, known as the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, includes oil company Shell, consumer goods company Unilever and teleco Vodafone.
They believe that tougher targets will drive investment, putting the UK ahead in low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen storage, wave and tidal power, and carbon finance. "We need EU governments to set clear targets for the ETS out to 2025 so that our businesses and others can have the confidence to make long-term investments in reducing emissions," said Shell's chairman James Smith. Green groups welcomed the call. "This is exactly what is needed if we are to tackle climate change and ensure that the British economy reaps the rewards of going green," said Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper.

Are the Kyoto carbon trade walls coming down?

The first carbon credits trade deal to link North American and European greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading systems ttook place in May. Baxter Healthcare Corporation transferred allowances to emit 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from one of its Irish operations into the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). The company was a founding member of the CCX, a voluntary US market which requires its members to cut GHG emissions on an annual basis.
While EU allowances can be transferred to the CCX, the flow is not permitted in the other direction, as the US is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Carbon market booming (too bad we're not in it)

The global carbon market could be worth US$25 to US$30 billion in 2006, based on the first four months of trading, according to the World Bank. CLose to $7.5 billion in carbon contracts were exchanged in 4 months, compared with close to $11 billion in 12 months of 2005. The volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances traded in 2005 grew 4000% compared to 2004. The number of contracts grew by 300% in the same period. "We have a working market that has grown faster than expected," said Andrei Marcu, president of the International Emissions Trading Association.

Carbon hits A$29!

Carbon is back in the stratosphere as prices approach the $30 mark again after months of volatility which saw prices fall below $10. Analysts point to the fact that the market is still only a year old and prices depend on Kyoto signatories reporting their mandatory limits. Inexperience has led to several over-estimations and changes in allocations, which causes wild market swings. At present, Australian carbon contracts cannot be negotiated with companies in Kyoto countries because we are non-signatories to the agreement. American carbon contracts are also restricted.
However the next round of negotiations is starting, with Australia co-chairing the sessions. With a change of leadership expected in both countries within the time frame in the lead up to 2012, the start of the new agreement, the trade in soil carbon credits comes closer. So start sequestering (locking up) carbon now. You'll be so pleased you did.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"May I ask who is blocking you/us and why?"

"May I ask who is blocking you/us and why?"

This question came through after the latest Coalition Update email included the following reference:

"The sooner we become a mass movement, the sooner those people blocking us will feel the call of destiny and either join us or at least wave us through."

NB. The Carbon Coalition has supporters of all sides of politics as members. The Coalition is not aligned with any political party or pressure group.
Q. "May I ask who is blocking you/us and why?"

A. Where do I start? At the top: It is my personal view that the President of the United States George W. Bush is discouraging us by refusing to sign the Kyoto protocols that the US negotiated up until the last minute, then bailed out, even though it was given massive concessions to join the 160+ other countries that signed. No Kyoto, no mandatory ‘cap and trade’ system, no market for carbon credits in the US.

Next comes the Commonwealth Government of Australia which followed America’s lead (the only other nation to refuse to ratify). The attitude of the Commonwealth Government is not encouraging. Ministers don't return the Coalition's calls; even a high profile parliamentary secretary that I worked with before he was drafted into parliament does not respond, despite him requesting a briefing when I ran into him months ago; Federal Government agencies are reluctant to help us. All the evidence points to the Carbon Coalition being shut out by the Commonwealth Government.

Third comes the Government’s Greenhouse agency, which officially dismisses soils as a potential sink. (There are many areas of agreement between the Coalition and the Greenhouse Office, which we will outline in a later post.)

Fourth the scientific establishment. Defending the old paradigm that Australian soils can’t sequester much carbon, a belief based on research studies which typically focus on land managed according to traditional farming methods, rather than carbon farming. Or when they do include rotational grazing, they use too few paddocks and too short a time

Finally money is blocking us by not being available in sufficient quantities to allow us to make faster ground.

Who is standing beside us?

The vast majority of the nations of the world – 160 of them.

Many corporations in Australia and America, including power companies, want stricter regulation. The world’s airlines recently went public, pleading with Mr Bush to introduce a mandatory cap and trade system. Westpac is leading a corporate ginger group lobbying the Federal Government for mandaotry reductions. British companies are lobbying their government for even tighter controls than Kyoto imposes. Intelligent companies understand that it’s bad for business to have extreme weather events.

US Congress - A bill to establish mandatory limits on emissions came before Congress narrowly missed being passed by a handful of votes – with prominent Republicans in favour. 70 Senators wrote an official letter to the President last month demanding that he show leadership in this area. (Most oil and coal companies lobby the President against these moves.)

The US Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy are vigorously searching for many solutions, including soil carbon sequestration. The measurement methodology is the focus of two scientific teams who are in the proof of concept and validation phases on research and expect to report in 2009.

The Chicago Climate Exchange – the world’s first carbon market, has offered Australian farmers the use of an international trading instrument for selling our carbon credits on the voluntary US market. (Last week the first cross-Kyoto border deal was done, which indicates the wall is coming down.)

US State Governments – 13 have introduced their own mandatory cap and trade systems.

Australian State Governments – all 7 states and territories have formed a greenhouse initiative and lobby Canberra for stricter controls.

Enlightened soil scientists – who ‘get’ carbon farming and can see the methodological problems with the 'legacy' research.

Farm lobby groups – we are getting great response from farmers’ associations.

Farmers and graziers – wherever we speak we enlist the vast majority of landholders.

Time – is on our side. President Bush’s Administration comes to a close within 18 months. Peter Costello is reported to have made positive remarks about carbon credits in a speech in San Francisco. John Howard hasn’t said ‘never, ever’. I personally believe that he hasn’t been fully briefed on the matter and that if he knew the facts he’d change his mind.

Remember, the pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs.

Farmers' Association NSW give us a hearing

NSW Farmers are right behind us - Jock Laurie gave us his support for the motion going before their conference this month. He is very enlightened about natural resource management. If it gets up we'll go to the NFF, MLA, AWI, etc and see if we can't line up solid support from industry bodies for something that is in their members' best interests. If they get behind it, we'll have the best agripoliticians on our side. CC Member and CMA Farming Systems classmate Mark Pickford pushed the motion through Wellington Branch and arranged a presentation to about 25 members last week, facilitated by Hamish Munro of Cumnock.

Deborah Willis, a dynamic personality (and don't we need more of them in agriculture?) got us in to see Jock within a week! She's one of the progressive people we met at the Gloucester Manning Landcare Pater Andrews seminar.

It is people like Mark, Hamish, Deborah and Jock who will make this vision become reality.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Christine Jones 'Managing the Carbon Cycle' Forum @ HORSHAM 26-27th July 2006

'Managing the Carbon Cycle'
HORSHAM 26-27th July 2006


Ray O'Grady   Importance of Soil Carbon
This paper reviews the historic loss of 50-60% of soil carbon, and its effects on crop yields, the physical, chemical and biological aspects of soil health and the health and wellbeing of the farming family. Farming practices that influence these soil carbon losses and the methods and principles of increasing the carbon sink in the soil are discussed.
Ray O'Grady and Rod Rush  The Terra Preta phenomenon
The greatest legacy the Amazonians left to the World was not the famed 'City of Gold' but the Terra Preta. These man-made 'Indian black earths' cover an area the size of France. They hold a secret to carbon sequestration that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. We require only 10% of our productive, degraded lands to absorb the estimated 6.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide of emissions to make a carbon negative world possible in our life time. The question must be then asked 'Do we need nuclear power to reduce Global Warming?
Andre Leu  Organics and Soil Carbon:
Increasing soil carbon, crop productivity and farm profitability
This paper explains how atmospheric carbon is introduced into the soil and how it stored in stable forms. It identifies the farming techniques that are responsible for the decline in soil carbon and gives alternative practices that do not damage carbon. Increasing soil carbon can reduce the 25% of Australia's greenhouse gases created by agriculture and assist in ameliorating climate change. Increasing soil carbon will ensure good production outcomes and farm profitability. Soil carbon, particularly the stable forms such as humus and glomalin, increases farm profitability by increasing yields, soil fertility, soil moisture retention, aeration, nitrogen fixation, mineral availability, disease suppression, soil tilth and general structure. It is the basis of healthy soil.
Rod Rush Understanding mycorrhizal fungi
Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic associations with the  roots of many plant species. Mycorrhizae supply their hosts with mineral nutrients (notably phosphorus) in exchange for energy compounds. However, there are many land management practices that can severely deplete and sometimes extinguish mycorrhizal populations. This paper focuses on a discussion of these management practices and their consequences for ecosystem health and farm productivity.
Tony Scherer Back to Basics
Returning to a biologically based farming system
How we moved away from the importance of soil structure, humus and water holding capacity to an NPK mentality Should we treat agriculture as a biological or industrial system? Do consumers know what they are eating? Effect of government policy on alternative agriculture. Effect of agricultural research on alternative agriculture. How do we retrieve a sane and sensible farming system?
Andrew Helps  Climate change and dryland farming
Soil carbon levels - overview of the National and Regional inventories such that they are. Does the farming sector have any understanding of albedo-related feedback mechanisms and the impact of these mechanisms on farm scale - and on regional and national productivity? Is big still beautiful? Was it ever really beautiful? Is there a role for a small intensive dryland model?
Michael and Louisa Kiely  Carbon Credits from Soil
The Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming was launched to promote carbon in agricultural soils as a natural carbon sink for the purpose of trading on the global emission credits market.  Global Warming presents farmers and graziers with an opportunity to sell carbon credits worth thousands of dollars per hectare. Soil carbon levels can be increased by replacing soil management practices such as stubble burning, ploughing and inappropriate grazing with minimum tillage, regenerative grazing and revegetation with perennial grasses. Baselining is essential for registration in possible future trading programs. Landholders need to take action now to be ready for the anticipated first day of trading.
Bob Mackley  Sacred cows with zebra stripes
Agricultural practice and the shape of farming communities have changed enormously over the last four decades. There have been obvious benefits in gross production but whether we are accounting for the full cost is in considerable doubt. Whenever the environmental cost of farming is brought up in discussion there is usually a heavy silence and people trying to find the door marked EXIT. The enthusiastic adoption of herbicide, pesticide and fungicide products may be masking a greater danger to sustainable agriculture than the current generation of 'pests'. Resistance (selection pressure) has become the new fear phrase in farming circles with the common response being to apply more, stronger, earlier or differing mode of action chemical. This more-on farming method has caused many farmers to look elsewhere for answers and the soil may hold many of them.
John and Val Hanley Organic grain and fodder production
We farm 2000 acres in Central Victoria. We grow BFA certified grains for milling and fodder (oats, oaten hay and pasture hay), as well as silage for organic dairy farmers. This presentation will cover our experiences within the organics industry; human health issues; weed control in broadacre farming, especially grass 'problems'; green manures; the use of aerators and rollers; crop rotations; livestock management; weevil control in silos. No matter what you are growing, you are a microbe farmer. Microbes are what make your living for you. For everything you do, always ask 'is this going to be beneficial for microbial life on my farm?'
David Marsh A different decision-making process can produce profits, increase carbon sequestration in soils and regenerate landscapes
With different grazing management, there is huge potential for carbon sequestration in soil. The effect of higher soil carbon levels on landscape function and possible solutions to other land degradation issues are discussed. Drought performance of a farm where decisions are made using the Holistic Management model are examined.
Colin Seis Carbon farming through Pasture Cropping
Concerns about declining profitability, poor soil structure, dryland salinity, soil acidification and increasing numbers of herbicide resistant weeds have prompted over 1000 farmers throughout eastern, southern and Western Australia to trial Pasture Cropping.  The year-round groundcover results in reduced wind and water erosion, improved tilth, reduced weed numbers, increased nutrient availability and increased levels of soil organic carbon. The soil health benefits from plant root exudates derived from a mix of shallow rooted crops and deep-rooted perennial pasture are numerous. In an era when dryland salinity, soil acidification and loss of soil carbon are having increasing impacts on the productivity and profitability of farming enterprises, Pasture Cropping may provide one option for addressing these issues.
Liz Clay Positioning soil in the carbon market - a Victorian perspective
There is now a scientific and political consensus on the reality of climate change. It is happening and it has serious implications - for our ecosystems, our health, our economy and our future. This paper reviews the risks and opportunities associated with positioning soil carbon in the emissions trading market.
Andrew Helps  Carbon, energy and water
Making the case for high carbon fertiliser
Can Australian farmers remain profitable under their current dry land model? Will selling grain for export continue to be the best use of farm production? Manufactured fertiliser is hooked to the price of oil and gas. It takes .65 of a tonne of natural gas to make a tonne of urea, a tonne of natural gas to make a tonne of ammonia and the equivalent of a tonne of gas and up to 20,000 litres of water to make a tonne of phosphorus. It is reasonable to expect that farm gate prices for diesel could well rise to the $1.50-$1.60 region after excise claw back in the next 18 months. At this level most farmers will want to explore alternative fuel options - what are these options?

REGISTRATION: Places for this information packed two day forum are limited. Registration deadline 14 July 2006. Visit
or contact UNE Conference Company (02) 6773 2154

An Open Letter To Soil Scientists About Carbon

Dear Soil Scientist,

Scientists have rarely had the opportunity to change the course of history that you have today. Global warming is now widely considered inevitable. The race is on to find ways to avert the worst case scenario.

While millions of trees are being planted and various solutions are being investigated, including pumping C02 into oceans, empty coal seams and oil wells, none has the capacity to sequester sufficient CO2 in the next 50 years. Only soils can do it. "Results from integrated assessment analyses indicate that soil carbon sequestration may have an important strategic role – due to potential for early deployment and low costs – within a technology portfolio to mitigate climate change," says US climate change economist Professor Bruce A. McCarl of Texas A&M University. "Unlike many other technologies to offset fossil fuel emissions (e.g. geologic carbon sequestration, carbon capture), land management for soil C sequestration can be implemented immediately, provided there are economic and other incentives to do so."

Soils can sequester large amounts of carbon*. "Soil organic carbon is the largest reservoir in interaction with the atmosphere," reports the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation. (Vegetation 650 gigatons, Atmosphere 750 gigatons, Soil 1500 gigatons). Poor management of the world's soils in the past 200 years has seen soil carbon levels severely depleted in many regions. Grazing land alone comprises more than half the total land surface of the world. Any incremental change in carbon levels through improved soil management on such a scale could have a massive impact on atmospheric CO2 stocks.

Soils used for C sequestration would reach their carbon saturation point within that 50-year window of opportunity. But they will have done the job until alternatives come on stream.

There are two more links in the chain between you and saving the world from the worst of Global Warming. Link #1 is the motivation to get conservative farmers to make radical changes to their farm practices. The income derived from selling carbon credits would be sufficient incentive to change for most farmers if prices were in the range currently being achieved under the Kyoto Agreement.

Link #2 is the mechanism which can make such trade possible - the measurement, monitoring and verification of amounts of carbon sequestered in soils. Here the spotlight falls upon you. The world needs a reliable, bankable methodology that will be acceptable to markets. Currently the ruling paradigm states that it can't be done: soil carbon levels are in such flux that they can swing wildly from one side of a field to another, from furrow to furrow, from day to day.

Consider this: Before Columbus, educated Europeans thought the earth was flat. Before Copernicus, educated Europeans thought the Sun revolved around the Earth. These old paradigms were fiercely defended by the establishment. There will come a day when soil carbon measurement will be a problem solved and the world will reap the benefits.

These benefits are not just greenhouse-related. The soil management techniques required for carbon sequestration - constant groundcover, deep-rooted perennials, minimum- or no-tillage cropping, and the like - will have the positive effect of restoring soil structure, rebuilding biomass and microfauna communities, increasing the soil's water-holding capacity, reducing the incidence of salination, and improving soil fertility and productivity. Add to these the protection of topsoil from wind and water erosion and you can see how powerful is your opportunity.
The carrot of carbon credits will motivate an entire generation of farmers to learn the benefits of husbanding the soil.

There are profound social benefits, as well. Increased farm incomes would help farm families stay together on the land. Increased farm values would give farm families financial flexibility and confidence in the future. Soil carbon credits would also foster new growth in farm communities, providing employment opportunities and protecting social infrastructure that is crumbling as you read this.

Given the benefits for the environment and society, the search for a methodology should be pursued with the same passion as the search for a cure for cancer. The scientist who discovers the solution will not only enter the history books. You will have made a real contribution to the lives of everyone on the planet, an opportunity few people are given.

Yours in hope for the future,

The Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming**

PS. Shakespeare said it all:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries."

PPS. *Soil carbon sinks can play a key role in the global strategy to mitigate against greenhouse emissions, says Prof. Bruce A. McCarl. "With focused effort, the amount of carbon sequestered in soil by land management could be significantly increased. Various studies estimate that the soil C sequestration rate may be increased to 0.44-0.88 Pg C y-1 and sustained over a 50-year time frame."

**The Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming is a farmers' and citizens' movement which seeks to have agricultural soils recognised as an effective carbon sink for the purposes of trading on the global greenhouse emissions offset market. Visit for more details and to join.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933)

There is a tide in the affairs of men...

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

AP6 locks world in to four degrees global warming

AP6 locks world in to four degrees global warming

12 Jan 2006

WWF, the global conservation organisation, has grave concerns following today's announcements at the AP6 meeting in Sydney that the Howard Government is willing to accept runaway climate change.

The Prime Minister's office today stated that the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate would lead to 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than would otherwise be the case by 2050, based on analysis by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE).

What is not being said is that the ABARE report (PDF 1.2 MB) shows global emissions will in fact increase by 100 per cent by 2050 under the Partnership plan, when climate scientists are calling for emissions to halve.

A 100 per cent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, as allowed under the new Partnership plan, would lock the world into a four-degree rise in average global surface temperatures.

A four-degree rise in temperatures would wreak havoc on infrastructure and the natural environment.

In Australia this would result in the destruction of our natural icons, including World Heritage sites such as Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest. Global warming of this magnitude would also place untenable pressure on the country's healthcare and emergency response systems as more people are affected by heat-related diseases, cyclones, bushfires and other freak weather patterns.

The Australian Medical Association yesterday said that by the year 2100 up to 15,000 Australians could die every year from heat related illnesses and the dengue transmission zone could reach as far south as Brisbane and Sydney if emissions continue to increase.

"In my whole business career, I have never seen a more misleading public statement as that made by Prime Minister John Howard today," said WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne.

"If the statements made today become a reality, this will lock us in to a four-degree rise in global average temperatures, when two-degrees is considered extremely dangerous," he said.

"There couldn't be anything more irresponsible than to knowingly embark on a path towards massive increases in emissions and runaway global warming."

The only way to avoid dangerous climate change is for the world to agree on a plan to reduce emissions. The Kyoto Protocol is the only global treaty to do this.

WWF urges the United States and Australia to join the 148 countries that are working on effective emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.
For more information

Charlie Stevens, Press Officer, WWF-Australia
Phone: 02 8202 1274
Mobile: 0424 649 689

* Last month, a WWF report entitled Are we putting our fish in hot water? (PDF 1.03 MB) reveals that fish are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change as temperatures rise in rivers, lakes and oceans. For a copy of the report and for the full scientific reports on climate change and freshwater and marine fish, see Hot, hungry and gasping for air - climate change puts fish at risk, warns WWF.
* Studies by WWF show at least 90 Australian species are at risk from climate change - including koalas, wombats, birds, reptiles, frogs and fish. According to the Australian Government's Department of Environment and Heritage most highland faunal species will disappear if average temperatures increase by 1-5°C.
* Science journal Nature has revealed that between 15 and 37 per cent of terrestrial species worldwide could become extinct by 2050 if estimated levels of climate change are not reduced.
* In the Arctic, an expected temperature increase of 2°C could result in the extinction of such iconic species as polar bears, seals and walruses.

For more information

Contact the WWF-Australia Press Office by email or phone on 1800 032 551, or 0410 220 608 after hours.
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Friday, July 07, 2006

Senate pleads with Bush: "Be a leader. Cap and Trade!"

CAPTION: The US Senate says President George W. Bush is not a visionary when it comes to his country's future in a carbon-conscious world.


On 29 June, 40 US senators, including prominent Republican leaders, sent an urgent letter to President Bush. "Provide leadership on climate change," they said or the US could lose its competitive edge in a "carbon conscious" world. They want a mandatory cap and trade system whereby companies will have to buy carbon credits to offset the CO2 and other gases they are emitting into the atmosphere.

A year ago, the Senate passed a resolution calling for a mandatory federal programme to reverse global warming.
In other words, they wanted a cap and trade system. Nothing happened, so they are pleading with him again. Bush is a global warming skeptic. He has only recently agreed it is real. He doesn't accept its man made. (He career in the oil industry, one of the biggest polluters that would be forced to buy offsetting credits, has been offered as an explanation for his reluctance.) The Bush Administration's own scientists have proven climate change is linked to human influences.

The 40 Senators make an appeal on economic grounds: "It is important to keep US businesses competitive in a carbon-conscious global marketplace. Since we have not given them a clear signal to reduce global warming pollution, American businesses continue to make long-term capital investments that commit us to ever-increasing global warming emissions. Our inaction has discouraged the deployment of existing technologies and development of new technologies."
America will be a backwater, they warn, as "foreign companies are advancing innovative designs and patents in photovoltaics, auto technology, wind and efficient buildings".

"We urge you to provide leadership on this critical issue..."

Several bills are before Congress, including the Strong Economy & Climate Protection Act, which would cap emissions from large polluters. Republican Sen. John McCain says he will re-introduce the Climate Stewardship Act, which would cap greenhouse gas emissions.

Australian farmers are blocked from receiving full value for the carbon they sequester by the refusal of President Bush to mandate cap and trade and the way the Commonwealth Government in Australia takes its cues from the US.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

CRC for Greenhouse Accounting closed

The Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting, opened in 1999, has been closed. The Centre has not been re-funded. The Centre's website will be maintained. The CRC announced the closure with this statement: "Tasked with a vision to develop world-class capability in greenhouse accounting that would support Australia in meeting the greenhouse challenge on the land, the CRC has achieved that and much more Through the seven-year life of the CRC its members have produced about 400 first class journal papers. Of 15 Centre papers examined, six are in the top 1 per cent in their field for citations, and all are in the top 10 per cent. The citations will only get better in coming years. The Centre's website currently serves about 46,000 sessions a month and eCarbon News reaches nearly 2000 people. More than 30 PhD students have been an integral part of the CRC, and four CRC Members became Professors during the life of the CRC. The Centre has held more than 30 CRC workshops and briefings that have delivered our messages to at least a couple of thousand of people from all sectors of the community. Members attended and contributed to conferences, seminars and briefings all over the world - in this financial year alone members made an average of about four presentations a week. CRC for Greenhouse Accounting research has contributed to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Guidelines and greenhouse gas inventory methods, to the development and implementation the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, the National Carbon Accounting System, the proposed (Australian) National Emissions Trading Scheme, to international and national standards, to individual firms through consultancies, and to the development of local, state, federal and industry policy. The CRC is proud of its contribution to greenhouse science, and its members look forward to continuing their contributions through other avenues."