Unfinished Symphony

December 17, 2009

Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony was first performed on this day in 1865.


Wouldn’t it be good if. . .

December 17, 2009

. . . there was another week between the end of November and Christmas?

That way people like me who turn off at the first sight of tinsel in September wouldn’t find themselves more than a little under-prepared with just a week to go.


Sugar beet silliness

December 17, 2009

Phil Clarke blogs on sugar beet silliness in the EU.

Good weather has led to a bumper crop of beet and the EU as a whole is expecting to produce about 2.4 million tonnes. But that exceeds the 1.37m it’s allowed to export under a WTO ruling.

That was based on a complaint by Australia, Brazil and Thailand which had argued that the EU was “dumping” its surpluses on the world market.

But that was in the days when world prices were way below EU levels. The situation is very different today, with the global shortage of sugar leading to a doubling in prices in just 12 months.

The response suggested by CIBE is for the EU to increase the export ceiling for 2010, so that, instead of having to stockpile about 1m tonnes of surplus sugar, processors can sell it to the world market and help relieve the global shortage…

What could be more sensible? Global prices would come down a bit, the EU sugar industry would earn a bit and consumers the world over would save a bit.

But that’s not the way Brussels sees it. It maintains that “it is not possible to export out-of-quota sugar in excess of the WTO limit” and suggests the only option is to carry over any surplus into next season.

The EU could make a request to the WTO to lift the export ceiling.

 It certainly seems unlikely that the likes of Australia, Brazil and Thailand would complain, since their consumers are feeling the impact of high sugar prices too.

The more likely outcome, however, is that the EU will do nothing. As a result, each member state will have to put its extra sugar into storage this winter, with all the cost that involves, and carry it forward to next season.

And that will mean further reductions in EU growers’ 2010/11 contract tonnages – even though prices are sky high and the world is crying out for sugar.

I presume the reason the WTO is involved is because the sugar beet production is subsidised.

The market might not be perfect and it means accepting the lows which inevitably occur but this illustrates how silly subsidies are when they prevent producers from benefitting from the highs.

It’s not good for consumers either. They’ll have been taxed to pay for the subsidies when demand was low and now there’s a sugar shortage they’ll be paying higher prices.


$45m for Global Research Alliance

December 17, 2009

New Zealand will contribute $45 million over four years to the Global Research Alliance on agriculture greenhouse gases, Climate Change Issues Minsiter Tim Groser and Agriculture Minsiter David Carter announced.

Ministers from 20 countries last night joined New Zealand to establish the Alliance which brings together public and private researchers.

“New Zealand is pleased to have been able to pull together such a diverse range of countries, including major players like the United States and India, to work together on finding practical solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. 

“This Alliance will be a credible force for ensuring the resources, research capability and international goodwill to reduce farm emissions while ensuring food production meets the demands of a growing world population,” says Mr Groser.

Founding Alliance member countries are Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

The Alliance – proposed by Prime Minister John Key at the UN General Assembly in September – has been heavily promoted by NZ ministers as a constructive initiative that brings developed and developing countries together on reducing emissions from livestock, cropping and rice production.

Mr Groser says the commitment is a significant step in boosting the profile of agriculture greenhouse gas research internationally.

“14 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture, but for New Zealand and parts of the developing world, that figure is much higher. There is an urgent need to develop technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in agriculture while enhancing food security,” says Mr Groser.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the Government is confident the Global Research Alliance will help the world’s food producers keep their emissions to the minimum possible, and play an important role in overall global mitigation efforts.

“The Alliance is one of a suite of measures the Government is working on to address agriculture emissions, including the domestic Centre for Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Research, based at AgResearch, and the amended Emissions Trading Scheme passed last month.

“Other efforts include greenhouse gas footprint projects for primary producers and trials of carbon sequestration techniques such as biochar.

“The culmination of these measures will be a big step towards assisting New Zealand farmers to meet their climate change obligations,” Mr Carter says.

Global Research Alliance members will meet early in 2010 in New Zealand to establish working groups, and discuss priority setting and opportunities for encouraging participation.

Regardless of the motivation, international co-operation on agricultural research is a positive move.


MacKenzie dairy development applicant responds

December 17, 2009

Environment Canterbury has recieved more than 3000 submissions on the application for intensive dairy operations in the Mackenzie Basin.

Richard Peacock, a director for two of the companies applying for resource consent for intensive dairying operations in the Mackenzie Baisn has responded to my post on the issue.

Since the post is a few days old and his comment may be missed, I have copied it in full:

Fonterra utilise this farming system in China and believe it to be appropriate there, 75% of dairy farmers in Europe and USA utilise this farming system. If it is environmentally sustainable in these countries why not in that part of NZ that most closely replicates these continental climates. Having travelled widely I encounter reference only to sheep when NZ is mentioned. There is total surprise when it is advised that NZ is one of the largest exporters of dairy products in the world. This farming model works. It reduces feed requirement (30% less in winter). There is total control of effluent discharge. Wet ground, no grass growth, no spreading of effluent on ground. No urine patching (the biggest cause of nitrate leaching, methane can be collected economically and re-utilised on farm to drive plant, equipment (tractors and trucks, surplus power can be fed into the National grid, research is being undertaken to collect CO2 and Nitrous Oxide in the barns, scrub it and store it in the effluent management system. Self sustainability in emissions is potentially achievable and this system should be encouraged. The financial model works at $4.50 per kg of milk solids as cows can be milked during winter to capitalise on winter milk premium, production is 25-30% higher due to less energy expended walking to and fro and the capital cost of the stables are paid for largely by not having to send cows off farm during the 10 week winter period ($300-350 per cow including freight).
The Greens have focused on negative by attacking this farming system as a way to get some oxygen (albeit that it answers all their environmental concerns), people are encouraged to think that free stall stables similar to pigs in crates (nonsense), 3000 submissions have been lodged against the applications on the back of the Greens generated hysteria but Environment Canterbury advise that of those who have submitted only 130 have bothered to view the applicants submissions to understand just what is proposed. I know these things because I am the project director for Southdown Holdings Ltd and Williamson Holdings Ltd, 2 of the applicants.

I encourage all those with genuine interest to view the ECan website and in particular the Farm Environmental Management Plans of SHL, WHL and 5 Rivers prepared by Melissa Robson of GHD. Informed submissions in support are welcome.


December 17 in history

December 17, 2009

1538  Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII of England.

1577  Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth, England, on a secret mission to explore the Pacific Coast of the Americas for English Queen Elizabeth I.

1590 or later Marcus Gheeraerts, Sir Francis Drake Buckland Abbey, Devon.jpg

1773 At Wharehunga Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, 10 men who were with James Cook’s navigator Tobias Furneaux died at the hands of Ngati Kuia and Rangitane, led by their chief, Kahura.

Ten crew of Cook's ship <em> Adventure </em>  killed and eaten

1819  Simón Bolívar declared the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela).

1834 The Dublin and Kingstown Railway, the first public railway in Ireland opened.

1865 First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert.

1889 New Zealand’s Eifel tower opened at the South Seas Exhibition.

New Zealand’s own Eiffel Tower opens

1904 Paul Cadmus, American artist, was born.

1915 André Claveau, French singer, was born.

1918 Culmination of the Darwin Rebellion as some 1000 demonstrators march on Government House in Darwin.

1935 First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane.

A DC-3 operated by Flygande Veteraner in Sweden

1936  Tommy Steele, English singer and actor, was born.
 
1937 Kerry Packer, Australian businessman, was born.
1938  Peter Snell, New Zealand runner, was born.
1939  Battle of the River Plate – The Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff outside Montevideo.

Graf Spee at Spithead.jpg

1944 Major Major, No. 1 Dog, 2NZEF, and member/mascot of 19 Battalion since 1939, died of sickness in Italy. He was buried with full military honours at Rimini.

Major Major, mascot of 19 Battalion, dies of sickness

1947  First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber.

Boeing B-47E-65-BW (AF Serial No. 51-5257)during rocket-assisted takeoff test.

1961 Sara Dallin, English singer (Bananarama), was born.

1967  Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappearsed while swimming near Portsea, Victoria and was presumed drowned.

1969 The SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) began.

1969  Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closed its study of UFOs, stating that sightings were generated as a result of “A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects.”

1983 The IRA bombed Harrods Department Store in London, killing six people.

1989 Pilot episode of The Simpsons aired in the United States.

Simpsons FamilyPicture.png

2003  SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first supersonic flight.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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