Thursday, February 11, 2010

Can the globe afford modern science?

"We often say in science that eminence is measured by the length of time progress is held up by a scientist's ideas." (James Loveock, The Revenge of Gaia)

The National Carbon Offset Standard released in December was not a standard that described how we could trade soil C. It was a plea for help. How long will we have to wait for the Government to realise that science will never provide a workable trading mechanism because science cannot, has not and will not create such a thing. it is against its nature to do so. The process of science is not to simplify but to complicate. The needs of a market is simplicity and averaging. The market needs low cost solutions to weights and measures issues. Science cannot supply them and therefore says they can't and won't ever exist. Science would rather see the trade not occur than suggest less than pristine mechanism.
Will the Minister have the courage to tell Dr Brian Keating - director of CSIRO's new Sustainable Agriculture Flagship - that we are dealing with an emergency that could destroy civilisation. We don't need to be told that "the science is not advanced enough to confirm that whether this abatement could be achieved in practice." Can we do nothing until the CSIRO says we can?
There is little possibility that the CSIRO will be able to do anything more than confirm the beliefs of the scientists, such as that expressed by Dr Jeff Baldock in The Land: "A CSIRO soil carbon expert, Dr Jeffrey Baldock, said that while the technology had enormous potential in Australia, it was hard to measure and retain carbon stored in soil over a large area." The phenomenon of scientists being unable to verify what farmers on the ground are finding was demonstrated in a paper called Production-Oriented Conservative-Impact Grazing Management. It was prepared for a WA Department of Agriculture workshop in 2002, by Professor Ben Norton. He points out that the majority of published research studies of rotational grazing find that continuous grazing is better than or comparable to rotational grazing in terms of either animal or plant production. Yet “Hundreds of graziers on three continents claim that their livestock production has increased by half or doubled or even tripled following the implementation of rotational grazing…”

The Parable of the Space Pen illustrates the point: During the Space Race the AMericans spent US$25m developing a titanium biro that could write in weightless conditions (There was a Seinfeld episode featuring a Space Pen.) The Russians achieved the same result for a few cents. They equiped their cosmonauts with a pencil each.

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