Saturday, September 18, 2010

Have mercy on the scientists

Reliable scientific data on soil carbon is hard to find. When the old Australian Greenhouse Office collected data for the national inventory of Greenhouse Gases, it could find little that was more recent than the 1980s. In the 30 years that separated those feeding data into the National Carbon Accounting Scheme from those who generated the data, there had been a major shift towards conservation land management. More than 50% of West Australia’s croppers had switched to no-till, for instance. So the scientific models were loaded up with out-of-date data and the myth that Australian soils are too old and degraded to sequester carbon was born. This lack of data has caused a dilemma for scientists who are asked to give their expert opinion on the matter. Not only is there very little data, The CSIRO’s recent survey of the available data found, according to the Report of the Inquiry into Soil Carbon Sequestration in Victoria. that most of the data comes from overseas, little of it is the result of long term trials, and the influence of climate and soil type is so great that it masks the results of land management. (This last observation nullifies measurement of man-made changes to soil carbon entirely.) For all these reasons there is little ‘sound science’ that scientists can refer to when their political masters ask for their advice on soil carbon. This creates a dilemma for the scientist: either admit ignorance or feign knowledge. The way out is to say something like this: “There is no sound scientific evidence that proves that Australian soils can sequester significant amounts of carbon.” (This appears to say that the prospects for soil carbon sequestration are limited when in fact it is saying there is no such research.)


Peter Donovan said...

Hear hear Michael. This is an insoluble problem unless research or rather monitoring is farmer-driven, preferably with the notion of publicizing data from the positive deviants.

I'd love to put Australia on the map of soil carbon change as well as include them in the Soil Carbon Challenge) but I can't find anyone yet can provide reasonably credible data about repeated measurements over time in the same place. Any help appreciated.

Peter Donovan
Soil Carbon Coalition (USA)

Rajan Alexander said...

Salute this man! Pachauri did what no climate sceptic is able to do. A Trojan Horse that destroyed the IPCC from the inside.

If Pachauri did not exist, we climate sceptics would have had to literally invent him. He is in fact every sceptic’s dream. How could we have asked for more when he embodies the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in all completeness? Interestingly, he also strongly epitomizes the typical climate activist and their organizations that they are attached. Did he mould both in his image or its vice versa is however for history to judge.

Next month 194 governments of the IPCC are scheduled to meet in Busan, South Korea. This is where a plot to ouster Pachuari could be unleashed. Pachuari remains defiant: “At the moment, my mandate is very clear. I have to complete the fifth assessment” The Indian Government who Pachuari is their candidate is equally defiant, backing him to the hilt. If Pachauri goes, we leave the IPCC! And if India leaves the IPCC, it can trigger an exodus.

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