Friday, April 29, 2011

Science Fiction, for Certain

Measurement The key issue with measurement for the purposes of trade is not accuracy but certainty. The buyer needs to know that they are getting at least as much value as they are paying for. Every transaction requires an assessment of risk. There are several ways to manage risk in commerce: accurate measurement where possible and a margin for error based on a high degree of probability where it is not. There are several ways that soil carbon can deliver 95% certainty. But buyers of offsets based on avoided emissions - such as alternative energy - have no guarantee that the tonne of coal that was left in the ground as a result of their purchase will stay there for any length of time. Yet sellers of these offsets are not required to guarantee that this tonne of coal will remain unburned for 100 years. It can be measured accurately but it can't be guaranteed at even 5% certainty. The Kyoto Protocol is structurally biased against biosequestration. The 100 year rule has no technical or scientific basis - it was a policy decision. It is not based on the decay profile of a tonne of CO2 as we have been led to believe. The Permanence Requirement is a legal fiction. The fact that it was even considered for soil carbon proves that either the IPCC was ignorant of agricultural reality or there was a conscious attempt to block agriculture because the architects of Kyoto have a prejudicial view of farmers as climate vandals who should not be rewarded for doing the right thing anyway. The CSIRO's ECOS magazine let slip in September 2010 that 'there is a virtual consensus among scientists' that farmers should need no incentive to build soil carbon. Senior CSIRO scientists have described anyone associated with the trade in carbon farming offsets as ethically challenged. Scientific objectivity is another fiction. The dearth of soil carbon data... who chooses what will be studied and how? How many learned papers appear to prosecute the case against soil carbon? How does the buyer of soil carbon science (us) measure what we get for our money? What does unsound science look like? It looks the same as sound science to the untrained eye. Policy makers should learn to tell the two apart.

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