Saturday, August 15, 2009

Minister Burke Joins the Anti-Soil Carbon Society?

Tony Burke bamboozled by the “Anti-Soil Carbon Society”

The Minister for Agriculture and Soil Carbon,Tony burke, appears to have fallen under the spell of the “Anti-Soil Carbon Society”. He’s joined the “It’s Too Hard” Brigade. Every discredited, worn-out argument used by the soil carbon denialists have turned up in Tony’s speech to Parliament during the CPRS debate in August. He made the following school debating points: (1) “You can’t trade what you can’t measure.” This assumes we can’t measure soil carbon, which is untrue. Scientists measure it every day. If it’s good enough for science, it should be good enough for trading. (2) “There are real challenges in the science at the moment”. There will always be real challenges with science. No one is naïve enough to believe scientists will ever be satisfied with the degree of accuracy of measurement of soil carbon. Finer and finer degrees of measuring fractions are irrelevant for trade. Buyers are only interested in Total Organic Carbon. Scientists won’t tell you that. (3) “Australia has different soils to those in the United States.” We have degraded soils. The US has degraded soils. We have deep, rich soils, and so do they. Nothing about our soils stops them from adding carbon. But wait – here’s a new entrant in the “To Hard” arsenal: (4) Our soils are ‘more complex’ given ‘the amount of desert that we have’. Que? Does this mean we have more variety of soil types in the arid zone and that this would make soil mapping difficult? Very poor reasoning. (5) Current Kyoto rules would force Australia to account for bushfires and drought if we included soils in our accounts. This is the most absurd of all Kyoto absurdities and the first one most likely to be removed at Copenhagen. (6) The voluntary market in the USA has CO2 at 40¢/tonne on the current science and on the limitations on intrnational trading. What happens to prices when a major new market initiative is about to unfold (the Obama Initiative for Copenhagen)? What has happened to prices on the main mandatory market before such moves? Precisely what is happening now. Tony points to the millions he is spending to get the measurment right. But has he invested in the right sciencec to do that? Will the outcome in 3 years’ time be a trading-based measurement model tt satisfies all parties? Can it possibly be?

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